Examples Of Organizing Various Group Social Plans

In another article on this site I talked about the importance of being able to make plans with people. This is a quick supplement to that one, where I'll provide a few examples that show how it could play out if someone tried to organize a larger social event. It'll also illustrate some of the principles I mentioned in that article, such as the how it's good to stay flexible and patient.

I keep the examples to group plans because that's where things can get more complicated. For one-on-one outings, you can use the examples in the article Examples Of Various Ways To Invite People To Hang Out. Then imagine the other person quickly accepted the plan, couldn't make it, or they were interested but you and they just had to work out or change around some of the particulars.

I've just made them the shorter examples in other articles. In this case to keep things more realistic I based the examples on plans I've been a part of myself (either as an organizer or participant). Some of the discussions below are taken from my own Facebook account. I've removed names and changed a lot of little details and phrasing, but the general beats of how things played out are preserved. As always, I'll refer you to the site's quick examples disclaimer.

Proposing and organizing a group lunch with new classmates

This example's Planner is a new graduate student who has been at his program for about a month. During this time he's made an effort to be friendly with his fellow students. After the first official class he asked a bunch of his classmates if they'd be interested in grabbing a drink, and he and about seven other people went to a pub down the street and got to know each other a little better. The weekend after that, he joined some of them when they went out dancing.

As he's been meeting people, he's added everyone he's gotten along with to Facebook. He wants to continue being proactive about forming a social circle and sends out a group message to all his new contacts. Here's how the thread plays out over a few days:

Planner: Lunch on Thursday or Friday? Hey everyone, I was thinking a bunch of us could try getting together for lunch on either Thursday or Friday, to provide a break from the endless hours of reading alone in our rooms. Maybe we could check out that Sushi place some of us were talking about the other day? Ideas???

Classmate A: I could do lunch on friday!

Classmate B: Sounds good to me. Friday would be perfect. I've heard that Sushi place is good (Classmate C went there).

Classmate C: Hahahahahaha, I'm a little obsessed with that place. I blame Classmate Z for getting me hooked on it. I'm not 100% sure about Friday, but I'll check back in.

Classmate D: Ah, I'd love to go, but I'm going home this weekend to visit my parents. Will hang out with everyone soon.

Classmate E: Either day works for me. I'm open to any place.

Classmate F: Thursday works best for me (I'll be out of the city on Friday), but whatever works for the most people!

Classmate G: I could go for either Thursday or Friday, whatever works best for the most people! Thanks for setting this up btw!

Classmate H: Working on Thursday and Friday, good idea though.

Planner: It's looking like Friday works for the most people. Meet at the Sushi place at 1 or so???

Classmate G: Sounds good! Thanks for putting the word on the street!

Classmate E: Great! Works for me, see you all there!

Classmate A: Cool, see you all then!

Classmate B: Sounds great, see you friday

Classmate I: hey! i really want to come, but i have way too much work to do :( thanks for setting it up Planner, and hopefully there can be tons more!

Classmate E: ugghh not sure if i'll make it now! Sorry!! Have fun :)

Classmate F: oh it's a sushi restaurant too; that's amazing!! i don't think i can make it today (heading back home) but there is another sushi restaurant i've been meaning to check out just down the street from the campus. Does anyone want go grab lunch there next week/some time? Think about it

Classmate J: Ah, the downside of commuting. I think I'll just have to plan on having a car the next time we do this. I won't make it today unfortunately.

Classmate K: Unfortunately, I'm seconding Classmate I.... way too much to do today. Great idea though! Enjoy lunch

Planner sent the message out to eighteen people. Not everyone replied to the message. Of those who did some said they could make it. Some said they couldn't. Some said they'd check back later and never did. One person said she'd be able to come but then backed out in the Facebook thread a day or so later. Another person who said they were coming canceled by text the morning of the lunch. One person didn't reply to the thread, but told Planner in person she was coming. In the end five people showed up to the lunch and everyone had a good time. Two of them were students Planner didn't know that well yet, but who had come with Classmate G.

At first getting five out of eighteen people to come out may seem like a low 'success rate', but it's probably realistic given that everyone was busy, and that Planner didn't know everyone he was inviting incredibly well. Plus, in the end things like the ratio of people you invite to people who show up doesn't really matter, as long as you can get enough of them together to have a good time.

When he suggested the lunch he didn't care who did or didn't end up coming, just as long as someone did. He just wanted to get to know his fellow classmates better, and give himself a break from studying. Also, he was still in the early stages of trying to form a more consistent group of friends. The invitation was a way to fish out the people who seemed interested in hanging out with him more. He'd focus his energy on them, and not worry about the ones who repeatedly turned him down. Those people could remain as friendly acquaintances he saw at school.

Organizing a pub night after work

The next example's Planner has been working at a small company for a few years and is friendly with several of his co-workers. A few times in the past they've all gone to a nearby pub after work on Friday. They don't go as often as he'd prefer though, and this week he wants to take a shot at organizing an outing.

That Friday at lunch he mentions the possible pub night to the three co-workers he's eating with. They're around his age and he's hung out with them socially outside of the job before. Two of them seem interested, and one seems open to it, but is a bit non-committal. Planner knows one of the co-workers who said he's interested is fairly unreliable, so he only tentatively counts him as being able to come.

After lunch, on his way back to his office, he runs into another colleague and asks them if they'd be interested in going, which they are. At his office he writes a quick email to everyone in the small company who he hasn't already spoken to, asking them if they feel like going out. He phrases it based on the fact that some other employees are already on board:

Hey everyone,

Some of us are thinking of going to the pub after work tonight. You're all welcome to come of course.

-Planner

As he could predict, several people don't get back to him, or politely decline. Most of them are in more senior positions, are busy with their families, or haven't ever really taken part in past office social activities. Planner never really expected them to want to come out, but sent the invitation anyway to be polite, and in case they felt differently this time. Of the people who are a more realistic possibility for coming out, one says he'll go, and one says she can't make it. Another says he has to work late, and will see how he feels when he's done. He may join everyone later if they're still all at the pub. The last person says she has to go home for a bit first, but will join everyone later as well, and will bring a friend.

When 5 o'clock rolls around a couple more people who want to go end up having to work late. Planner and someone who doesn't have to work late either hang around the office and kill time for a bit, until two more of his co-workers become free. The unreliable co-worker is able to come out with everyone after all. They all head to the pub and have some drinks and appetizers. About an hour later three more people show up, and everyone ends up staying for another two hours.

Unsuccessful proposal

In this quick example the Planner, an undergrad college student, sends out a Facebook message on a Friday afternoon. She has plans to go to a club with one of her friends, and wants to see if anyone else is interested in joining. The recipients are a mix of her good friends, and several acquaintances she wouldn't mind getting to know better. If she was only trying to arrange a smaller outing with a few existing friends she'd have done it through text messages instead.

Planner: Hey guys, I may be going to Club X for their Retro Night tonight. I know a bunch of us have been talking about checking that place out for a while. Anyone up for it?

Friend A: Ha ha, I was actually planning on going there tomorrow night! Tonight I gotta work on a paper.

Friend B: I'm sick... and I have to work tomorrow morning... so no go for me.

Friend C: Sorry! Going home for the weekend.

Friend D: Hey Planner! Sorry, I'm heading out of town this weekend. I'll try to make it another time though!

Friend E: I have to work tonight, then tomorrow at seven in the morning, and I have a ton of homework to do. Sorry!

Friend F: Sorry Planner, I'm gonna have to take a pass too. Have fun though.

Friend G: I think I'm going to go tomorrow night too, and stay in tonight. Let me know if you want to go with Friend A and I.

Planner: I'd totally go tomorrow, but I'm heading out of town on Saturday too.

Friend H : Thanks for the invite! But I'm working at 6am tomorrow.

Friend I: Sorry, I'm going to an old high school friend's party that night, then I gotta study for a midterm. Good idea though, hopefully we can get together another time.

Friend J: I love that club! Retro Night is the best night to go to. I've got a friend coming into town tonight though, and the rest of the weekend I have school work. Another time though!

Friend K: I'd be up for it. Either tonight or tomorrow!

Friend A: Friend K, you should come out with us on Saturday!

Friend L: I might be up for tomorrow night. I'm still trying to figure out how much work I have to get done this weekend.

Friend A: Come on Friend L, do it! We're going to have some drinks at my place first, and you're welcome to join in. In fact, you have to come!

On Friday night the friend who Planner originally was going to go out with flaked on her. She didn't end up doing anything that night, and spent the rest of the weekend back in her home town. Friend A went out with a bunch of people on the Saturday.

Planner tried to organize something, but it didn't work out. If you wanted to look at things through a pessimistic lens you could say that everyone rejected her, and on top of that Friend A stole her thunder to organize a more successful plan of her own. That's not really the best way to look at things though. It was just bad luck that no one could make it out on Planner's originally proposed time. It's not going to pan out every time you suggest something. Planner continued to be friends with everyone for years after that, and she suggested and organized plenty of outings during that time.



Unsuccessfully trying to organize a catch-up night between friends, then making it work on the second try

This is a longer example about a plan to take a while to get off the ground. It can show the importance of preserving when it seems like a solid plan is never going to get nailed down. It also shows that just because one person got the planning process started, that another can still jump in and take the wheel if things are looking dicey.

Below a meeting to grab dinner turns out to be hard to plan because everyone is tied up with their jobs, but the same core difficulties could just as easily appear if the example was, say, about a bunch of parents trying to arrange a house party, but they're all too busy with their young children.


Planner has been really busy with work for the past few months. So have her old university friends, and they haven't hung out together in about two months. When they were in college they used to see each other all the time and spent most weekends together. She still talks to or runs into them one-on-one fairly often, and the last few times she's done so there's been talk of everyone getting together one night after work to catch up. Planner figures someone may as well take a shot at organizing something and creates a Facebook event and invites her five friends. The event has a tentative date and time of an upcoming Thursday from 7pm to 10pm, but no venue. The description is:

A few of us have been chatting and think it's a good time for us to have a get together! How about dinner and drinks? The only nights that work for me are Thursdays so I'm hoping you are all free. Next Thurs I know some of us are busy so how about the one after that? Feel free to invite anyone I missed.

Friend A: I'll be out of town and just getting home at 10pm that day. Next time though, I'd love to catch up with all of you.

Friend B: I'm down. Any place in mind? Were you thinking dinner or just drinks somewhere?

Friend C: I'm in

Planner: Both! Dinner and drinks. We could even go play pool somewhere. I'm down for whatever.

Friend D: Yeah, let's do it. I'll be available after 8:00 that day

Planner: Well we could move it to 8pm. Come to think of it, if we do that I'll have time to visit my sister that day.

Friend E: Cool, I'm down for sure!

A week and a half goes by...

Friend B: I just remembered this get together is coming up next Thursday. Any thoughts on where we want to go? If it's drinks and pool I'd suggest Pub X in neighborhood Y, or maybe somewhere in neighborhood Z instead??

Friend D: I'll be looking for dinner so my vote would be the burger place we went to last time.

Planner: Crap, I didn't realize I have to be traveling for work that day when I originally planned this. I'll still be able to make it, but I may be a bit late.

Friend E: I'm still down for wherever whenever!

Friend B: So... the official plan is to meet at the burger place at 8?

Friend C: I'll have to work late too so I won't be able to meet you guys until closer to 9. I'll text someone to see where everyone's at when I'm close to getting out of there.

The day of the meeting rolls around with three of the attendees (Planner, Friend C, and Friend D) all saying they may be able to make it, but not until later. In the afternoon Friend E texts everyone to say they aren't feeling well, have taken a sick day, and won't be able to make it tonight. Friend B texts everyone to note that now the only people who were still attending are saying they didn't know when they'll be arriving, and asks everyone if they want to set a new time, so things won't be totally up in the air, and they could coordinate around that. Friend D texts everyone after work to say they're feeling tired after a long day, and that they should all try to get together another time. Planner and Friend C don't reply that day, but post on the event the next day apologizing for being flaky and to say they didn't see themselves going out after working long days.

During the next two weeks the friends all chat to each other briefly. They regret the event didn't work out, but mention they should try again soon, and that it would help if someone just took the initiative to try to arrange another one. Friend B sends out a Facebook message:

Friend B: Hey guys, wanna try the whole 'get together and catch up' thing again sometime soon? Maybe Tuesday next week, around 8 or so? That date and time is more to get the ball rolling than anything.

Friend A: I'd love to catch up with everyone. Tues nights I'm doing a course in the evenings for the month of March...so any night other than Tuesday.

Original Planner: I can do next Wednesday if that works

Friend C: I can possibly do Wednesday too. I get back from a trip on Sunday so as long as i am up to date on everything, I am good to go and would love to see y'all.

Friend B: I think I can do next Wed too

Friend D: I'll check my schedule and get back to everyone

Friend E: That day should be good for me, but you never know with my job!

Friend D: Yep, Wednesday I'm done after 7.

Friend A: Ugh, my job just called a meeting for Wednesday night so I'm going to have to be the one that throws a wrench in. I know everyone else says Wed works for them, but could thursday potentially work too? If not, that's okay. I'll just have to try to make the next one.

Planner: Thurs I have plans earlier in the evening, but I'll be free by 8.

Friend B: Got my work schedule for that week so I know I can do Wed or Thurs for sure now. So whatever everyone decides, I can make it.

Friend D: Okay, I'm open for Thursday. 8-8:30 is fine for me too.

Friend A: I can do Thursday at whatever time works for everybody :)

Planner: I forgot, besides from my plans, I also have a meeting after work. It doesn't matter, I should still be out of everything by 8. If you guys just tell me where you're going, I'll be there.

Friend B: What about Pub X?

Friend A: Sure! Pub X, 8pm, Thurs?

Friend B: Yeah, 8pm on thurs works for me.

Friend E: works for me!

Friend C: Hey everyone, so I have to work late on Thursday, but I'll be there closer to 9. Hope that's okay!

Friend D: Alright, 8pm, Pub X.

Friend E: I'm there!

This time it all thankfully works out. Everyone arrives when they say they will, and they all have a fun time catching up with each other.

Plan to go to a bar that goes off the rails, but still ends up being a fun night

This final example, which may make your head hurt to read, will show how a plan can change in all kinds of ways once the get together has started. It's important to know the kind of night outlined below could happen at any time, and that it's good to be able to go with the flow and not get too hung up on a certain agenda being executed without any alterations.

Earlier in the week several friends made a plan to go to a particular bar on a Saturday night, at around 11:00pm, so they could avoid having to wait in line. One of the friends volunteered their place for everyone to hang out at before they headed out. Seems simple enough: Meet everyone, hang out, go to bar, the end. They organized it fairly quickly and painlessly as well, through text messages and when they saw each other in person.

Everyone agreed to meet at Friend A's place at around 8 o'clock that night. Friend A knew it was unlikely anyone would actually show up at exactly 8, and so relaxed with a movie and didn't think too much of it when two of his friends, the couple Friends B and C, were the first to arrive at around 9pm. The three of them chatted and had a drink or two while they waited for everyone else to get there.

At 9:30 Friend D texted Friend A to say that she and Friends E and F were getting ready and hanging out at her place, and were going to be a bit late. Friend G texted soon after that to say that he was leaving soon, and that he would pick up Friend H on the way over. About forty five minutes went by. Friend A texted G to get a status update. The ever undependable Friend G said he was just leaving his house now, that he was still planning to pick up Friend H, and that he'd be there in ten minutes. About half an hour later, at a quarter to 11, Friends G and H finally showed up.

Friend D texted again to say that she had been talking with E and F and that they were thinking they may go to another bar instead. They said they'd be over soon. About fifteen minutes later, at 11:30pm, she texted back to say that the three of them were going straight to the new bar, and that everyone should meet them there. Friend A relayed this news to everyone at his place. They had no problem going to the new venue, but were just starting into the drinks they brought and were in no hurry to leave. They said it was still early and they could meet the others later. Friend A texted D-F to pass the news on to them. Another person, Friend I, also said he was going to come, but no one had heard from him all night, and figured by this point that he had flaked on them.

At around midnight Friend D texted to let everyone know that the new place they wanted to check out had too long of a line, and that they were currently hanging out at a certain pub. The people at Friend A's place were fine with this further change of plans, but still were having a good time hanging around and didn't want to head out yet.

At about 12:45am, the couple, Friends B and C, announced that they were sleepy and going to head home for the night. Friends G and H still wanted to hang around at A's apartment and suggested they just not bother to go to the bars at all. Friend A still wanted to go out though and convinced them to come along. While they were waiting for a cab to take them to the bar Friend D texted to say they had left the pub, and were now at yet another club's Alternative Night. It was a venue that the others weren't a fan of, but they agreed to go anyway.

The cab took a while to arrive, and by the time they got to their destination they'd only be able to hang out there for forty five minutes or so before closing time. They also found out from the doorman that the cover was a lot higher than they thought it would be. At this point Friends G and H said they weren't that interested in paying a ton to go a place they didn't even like to begin with. Since it was late anyway, they said they were going to head back to Friend H's place. Friend G said he'd pick up his car from Friend A's in the morning.

Friend A tried texting Friend D to say he was outside and just had a short wait to get in, but she didn't get back to him. When he got inside and located the others, Friend D told him her cell phone's battery had died. They hung around that club until fifteen minutes before closing time, then went to a diner to get something to eat. After that Friend E headed home, but A, D, and F went back to F's place and stayed up until three in the morning watching a movie and chatting. Friend D eventually wandered home, and A crashed on F's couch.