Finances & Money

Minimum Guest Parties: Five Steps To Not Get Stuck With the Bill

hosting parties, party tips, hosting tips

My wife has been working hard to coordinate a ladies night out event. It started with just a few women, but the original group decided to expand it to a wider group of friends. Eventually the group grew to about 20 people that were interested in being a part of the event.


The group decided on doing a painting event using a service that puts on the event at your home. My wife started creating plans to have the event at our home including food, beverage, and the painting event. The minimum amount of people for such an event is 15, each costing $35. Since my wife had almost 20 interested people, ¬†she didn’t think hitting the minimum would be a problem. After a few phone calls and a $175 deposit, the event was booked.

One week before the event my wife checked in with the representative, and found out that despite repeated pleas and reminders, only five people had registered and paid.

If nobody else showed up, we would be on the hook for the other 10 registrations, totaling $350.

My wife immediately started working the phones as well as social media and email. The responses came in several flavors:

  1. Unsure if they could attend
  2. Just haven’t gotten around to registering yet, but would.
  3. Just haven’t gotten around to registering yet, could they just pay my wife the night of event?

If everyone that had verbally committed to attended had registered, there would be well over the 15 minimum guests. But, we are at the mercy of people living up to their promise as we are past the point of cancellation. Maybe they’ll come, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll register, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll wake up the day of the event and decide not to come, and we’re stuck with a bill of several hundred dollars.

If we ever coordinated an event with a minimum event cost, I would suggest we handle it differently:

  • Get verbal commitment : Just as my wife did for the current event, find people that wanted to participate.
  • Know the Terms : Again, we did this part right. We knew that there was a 15 guest minimum, the price is $35 per guest, and the cancellation policy.
  • Communicate Payment : Ensure people know they need to go register and pay, and continue to nag them. My wife actually did well with this.
  • Nag : I would suggest that we continuously check in with the representative as to who has registered. The representative actually said they would give us this information anytime we asked. I would check in every couple of days, and then send emails or make phone calls to people who said they would participate but haven’t paid yet.
  • Don’t be afraid to cancel : If the point of no return approaches as per the cancellation policy, don’t be afraid to simply communicate to the group that unless enough people register by a certain date, the event will be canceled due to lack of interest.

We’re past the point of being able to cancel for this event. Hopefully we reach the fifteen guest minimum and don’t end up paying for guests that decided not to come. If we ever do something like this again in the future, we’ll be handling it differently.

Have you ever hosted an event that had a minimum purchase, or minimum guest policy? Did you end up stuck with a large bill people people decided not to show up?




Disease Called Debt

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • Yikes, that’s a big risk. I think I would try to avoid a minimum requirement type of situation because getting stuck would be something I would have little tolerance for, and it would probably make me question my friendship with some of the people as well, which is never something you want.

  • Luckily, I never had to deal with that. I’d suggest another tack entirely. Ask people to write a check for $35 before booking this kind of thing. You’ll get a better idea of who’s serious, who’s just paying lip service and who is genuinely concerned about schedule conflicts.

  • @Moneybeagle – I’m actually very surprised that things turned out this way given the friends and *family* involved. Who knows..maybe everything will turn out just fine. Kind of a stress point right now though….

  • @Abigail – I don’t disagree at all…..the reason we went this route is because we trust the people involved, and it’s very convenient to just have everyone register and pay for themselves (some people are traveling for the event). Great suggestion though…..

  • Wow, that sucks! I’ve never heard of a hosting event like this and I would be furious! I think paying up front would be a good preventative measure. If it’s not paid by a certain date then I wouldn’t plan for them to come and wouldn’t be out of any money.

  • That’s a tough situation and very frustrating. Like others have said, next time I’d consider getting payment from people up front before booking the event. I hope this doesn’t become an expensive lesson. But more importantly, I hope this doesn’t affect your wife’s relationships with the people involved. It’s always tough when friends and family mix with money issues.

  • @Cathie- Surprisingly, it did work out OK. We did have some people flake out that had verbally committed to coming…but we also had some extra people decide to come last minute. Not the way I would have liked it to occur, but it did all work out in the end. Thanks for reading!

  • @Latoya – That’s definitely how we’d operate if we did this again….in fact we wouldn’t have booked the event until we had gotten the money in hand! Thanks for commenting!

  • @Gary – fortunately, it didn’t turn out to be an expensive lesson…..we did have some people that had verbally committed flake out. BUT, all of them realized that they had committed and said that if we couldn’t get anyone to replace them that they’d pay anyway. Of course, whether that would have happened or not is a different story….

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