Solving for the Perfect Party

Solving for the Perfect Party


2017 has just begun; hopefully, you celebrated the end of 2016 with a bang. If you happened to be one of the many who hosted a party, then you definitely did. Nothing creates chaos like hosting a party. Throngs of people in and out the door, the constant demand to entertain and feed your guests, as well as all the havoc that alcohol provides… Well, you see why some never attempt to host their own party. They leave that to the pros.

And, while planning my own New Year’s Eve party, I finally realized exactly where I went wrong. Yes, party planning is stressful, but that’s only because of the unexpected. How do you account for no-shows? What will you do with all the extra food? What if there’s not enough booze? These are frightening scenarios, but don’t worry: there are simple solutions to guide you. In fact, there are simple equations. Solving for them helped me plan my New Year’s Eve party with minimal stress, and I’ll certainly be applying these equations to every party from here on out.


  1. How Many People Will Actually Show Up?

We’re all increasingly busy. We’re booked weeks in advance, and sometimes, no matter how much you care for the person, you can’t make it to your friend’s event. Realize that your friends aren’t intending to hurt you by just “swinging by” or by foregoing your party altogether. They were probably just invited to several events, and there’s only so much time in the day! However, that leaves you in an awkward position: you don’t want to set up for more guests that will attend, but you can’t risk not having enough either.

First, gauge your guest lists’ interest level. If they don’t drink, and you’re already concocting your special margarita mix, count them out. If they have a baby, they probably won’t be there at midnight. Are they very popular? Expect them to dip in and out. All these maybes and in and outs count for half a person.


.5 * (# of maybes and in and outs)= A


Next, realize that despite your best promotion, some people would just rather sit in their PJs, eat take out, and watch Friends reruns every weekend. You might not understand how someone could be such a social recluse but to each their own. So, go ahead and do yourself a favour and just count out 30% now.

Given this, you’re left with a simple equation:


.7 X (A + # of your real friends)= expected guests


2. How Long Will it Last?

Too late, and you won’t have time to get the ball rolling before everyone has to leave. Too early, and the party burns out before midnight, which is an acceptable cut off point for most parties. While some might want it to last longer, no one will be affronted if you kick everyone out at midnight. People understand that it is technically the start of the next day, and you probably have plans for tomorrow.

First, realize that most people will show up late, so don’t plan for the party to really get started until about an hour after your official “start time”. Given this, 7:00 is a bit too early, and 9:00 is a bit too late. Settle on 8 pm as an official start time, as this will give everyone enough breathing room to arrive when they wish and party as hard as they want to. So, that’s four hours until midnight, but really only 3 hours with everyone present.


That leaves us with:


3+ (# of hours past midnight you can tolerate before you kick everyone out)= # of hours your party will last


If this isn’t enough time for you, or you think your friends might bail before then, tailor the party specifically for friends who you want to stay longer. You might have a friend that loves unicorns, or Harry Potter, or whiskey. Include those things into the theme of the party. People will also stay longer if they’re comfortable, so make sure that you remove any bad smells and tidy up before having anyone over.


3. How Much Booze Do You Need?

If you don’t want alcohol at your party, you can just skip right over this section…

If you want to be able to tolerate hosting a party, on the other hand, booze is required. But how much? We all have that friend that can only down two drinks before they’re on the bathroom floor and you’re rubbing their back, but we also know one person who needs a bottle to get a buzz. This can be a little tricky, but luckily there is an event planning standard to help you out.

(# of guests from step 1) X (# of hours from step 2) = # of servings

Make sure you realize how much a serving is. While this is obvious with a bottle of beer, take note of what a serving of wine is five ounces and a shot of liquor is 1.5 ounces. This will help you plan out how much booze you need to buy, which, honestly, can be the breaking point of any get-together.

Now, following these equations doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have a stress-free planning experience. But it definitely helps. Considering that you’re attempting something that others do professionally, don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself plenty of time, and then it’s just an issue of plugging in the numbers.


Guest Blog Post: AJ Earley

MandiHeadshotAJ is a personal chef, caterer, freelance writer, travel junkie, and root beer float aficionado from The Pacific Northwest, USA.

Girl Geeks wanted. Help Needed.

Reading Girl Geek Dinners needs volunteers to help us to keep the group going in 2016. We have big plans but little time to execute them and therefore we need some interested Girl Geeks to become a part of a team and work with us to deliver great events in 2016 and beyond.

You can give a lot or a little of your time. Anything you can do to help us is a brilliant contribution to the Reading Girl Geek Dinners chapter. You will help to grow our community and allow us to continue encouraging women into STEM roles. Your contribution will also help to support women who are currently working in STEM roles and aim to keep them growing in these roles.

We will meet once every few weeks either over coffee, a meal, a drink or Skype if time is tight so we can discuss our events, activities and share tasks. We can always stay in touch over the phone, email or face to face in between those times. It’s about being flexible and enjoying the tasks that we fulfill. It’s also about making new friends and contacts too.

The tasks that we need to fulfill include (to name a few):

  • Locating venues for events
  • Attracting sponsors for events
  • Co-ordinating and promoting events
  • Locating speakers for events and working with them to ensure their talk is a good fit for our group
  • Promoting Girl Geek Dinners via Twitter or Facebook
  • Writing blogs for our website promoting STEM careers
  • Locating Guest Bloggers for our website and working with them to help their blog contributions are a good fit for our group

To be a Reading Girl Geek Dinner team member, you don’t have to work in a STEM career. You simply need to have an interest in meeting other interesting people and having a fun time learning new things and a desire to build a community.

Contact us at for more details.


We look forward to getting Girl Geeky with you.



Reading Girl Geek Dinners event, 30th October 2012, hosted by Symantec


We’re thrilled to announce our next Reading Girl Geek Dinners event which is sponsored by Symantec and will be held at Symantec’s offices in Green Park, Reading.

The event will open at 6.30pm with registration for a 7pm start.


Full Details:

      • Date & Time: Tuesday, 30th October, 2012 @ 6:30pm for a 7pm start
      • End Time: 10:00pm
      • Venue: Symantec, 350 Brook Drive, Green Park, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 6UH.
      • Hosted by: Girl Geek Dinners and Symantec
      • Food & Drink: Buffet
      • Subject for the evening: Special Guests and talk subjects to be announced
      • Evenings Agenda: 
        • Registration 6:30pm
        • Start 7pm – Talk/s
        • 8:00pm – buffet and networking
        • 9:00pm – 10:00pm – close



      • Maggie Philbin – Symantec have worked with Maggie over the last 6 months around Teen Tech, and Maggie will join us to talk about Teen Tech and attracting young girls into STEM roles. This also supports a lot of the SWAN and charity work that Symantec and the Girl Geek Dinners movement in the UK carries out.
      • Kate Russell –  A reporter and journalist, Kate Russell started writing about technology, gaming and the Internet in 1995 and now appears weekly on the BBC’s flagship technology programme Click, as well as being a regular on the sofa at ITV’s Daybreak. She writes technology columns for National Geographic Traveller magazine and Web User magazine as well as curating a daily blog at Her first book Working the Cloud: a collection of tips, tricks and online resources for small businesses and entrepreneurs, will be published early next year.
Kate also recently presented at London Girl Geek Dinners and therefore we are delighted that she is available to continue sharing her knowledge and experiences with another chapter of Girl Geek Dinners.
      • Sian John –  Snr Security Advisor, Symantec – Sian will give an overview of the threat landscape
      • Carolyn Herzog – Snr Legal Counsel and chair of SWAN will host the session as a senior female Symantec leader


Capacity: 30 people


Attendees: As ever, boy geeks are welcome to attend if invited by a girl geek although on this occasion we do stress that there are few and limited spaces so more boy geeks = less girl geeks.


If you’d like to attend on 30th October, please sign up via the ‘Click and Register’  button, and we’ll see you at the event!

NOTE: If you are an internal employee of Symantec, please contact your SWAN representatives for registration details. This registration is for non internal Symantec attendees only.
Your SWAN contacts are:
Claire Scull –
Hayley Mowat –
All Non Internal Symantec attendees, please register via the button below…

Eventbrite - Reading Girl Geek Dinners Event, October 30th 2012, hosted by Symantec

Reading Girl Geek Dinners – Mentoring Event

Reading Girl Geek Dinners will be holding our next event on 18th July, 2012 on Copa Bar, Reading. The event will commence at 7:00pm and and our guest speaker will be discussing Jacqui Hogan of MentorSET who will be discussing Mentoring.

Our Sponsors

Reading Girl Geek Dinners welcomes Apple Print Limited as our sponsor for this event.

Apple Print Limited logo


Beavering away in their central Newbury location, they love nothing more than to turn your ideas and artwork into a creative reality. As well as offering a full printing service including lithographic, digital and large format, they also have a fantastic creative studio on-site.
Whether you have an exciting graphic design or art-working project you’d like help with or you want to launch a brand spanking new website, then our studio is THE creative hub to contact to discuss your requirements.

You can contact Apple Print Limited on 01635 521 654 or for all of your printing needs.

Thanks to Apple Print Limited, our event will be free.


MentorSET is a successful mentoring scheme to help women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). We provide independent mentors who understand the challenges faced and who can provide support and advice.

MentorSET aims to increase the number of women who can maintain their STEM careers, and realise their full potential.

Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool. It is an effective way of helping people to progress in their careers and is becoming increasing popular as its potential is realised. It is a partnership between two people (mentor and mentee) normally working in a similar field or sharing similar experiences. It is a helpful relationship based upon mutual trust and respect.

A mentor is a guide who can help the mentee to find the right direction and who can help them to develop solutions to career issues. Mentors rely upon having had similar experiences to gain an empathy with the mentee and an understanding of their issues. Mentoring provides the mentee with an opportunity to think about career options and progress.

A mentor should help the mentee to believe in herself and boost her confidence. A mentor should ask questions and challenge, while providing guidance and encouragement. Mentoring allows the mentee to explore new ideas in confidence. It is a chance to look more closely at yourself, your issues, opportunities and what you want in life. Mentoring is about becoming more self aware, taking responsibility for your life and directing your life in the direction you decide, rather than leaving it to chance.

About our guest speaker: 

The speaker is Jacqui Hogan, who has managed the MentorSET scheme since March last year. Originally studying Architecture and working as a building surveyor she has, for the last 30 or so years, worked in a variety of technical and managerial roles in the IT industry. Jacqui has experience with a wide variety of sectors including local government, oil rig design, electronics, civil engineering, pharmaceuticals, utilities, telecoms and entrepreneurs. She is an experienced mentor and speaker, and has worked as an independent consultant for the past 9 years.

She is qualified in both IT (MBCS, CITP) and Business Management (MBA, FCMI), and is a self-confessed Girl Geek.

Within the Girl Geek movement, we are also working to promote mentoring and are now undertaking the steps to offer mentoring to our community. Please visit us at to find out more.

Full Event Details:

  • Date & Time: Wednesday,18th July 2012, 6:30pm arrive for a 7pm start
  • End Time: Late
  • Venue: Copa, Reading
  • Hosted by: Reading Girl Geek Dinners
  • Food & Drink: Buffet (vegetarians catered for); buy your own drinks
  • Subject for the evening: Mentoring with our special guest speaker Jacqui Hogan of MentorSET.
  • Format: Reception, Mentoring Discussion, Buffet.
  • Capacity: 50 people
  • Attendees: As ever, Boy Geeks are welcome to attend if invited by a Girl Geek.
  • Cost: Free
  • Registration for this event will close on11th July.

If you’d like to attend on 18th July, please sign up via the Register button, and we’ll see you at the event!


Eventbrite - Reading Girl Geek Dinners Mentoring Event

Reading Girl Geek Dinners Re-launch event – Wed 30th May, 7pm at Copa, Reading


Girl Geek Dinners are hosting a re-launch event on Wednesday 30th May at Copa,  
76-78A Kings Road, R Reading eading, RG1 3BJ

The event will commence at 6.30pm with some networking and games, a raffle followed by a buffet. We will have some more time for networking after the meal.

The theme of the evening will be “I’m a Girl Geek because…..”. Come and share ideas, get inspiration and meet like-minded people. Remembering that you don’t have to work directly in IT to be a Geek. You just need to have a passion for it so you can share your knowledge and ideas or learn from others at the event. Most of all, this is a social occasion where we can enjoy ourselves.   Full Details:

  • Date & Time: Wednesday, 30th May 2012, 6:30pm for a 7pm start
  • End Time: Late
  • Venue: Copa, Reading
  • Hosted by: Reading Girl Geek Dinners
  • Food & Drink: Buffet (vegetarians catered for); buy your own drinks
  • Subject for the evening: I’m a Girl Geek because…..
  • Format: Reception, Dinner, Conversation, Networking Games, Raffle, Prizes.
  • Capacity: 50 people
  • Attendees: As ever, Boy Geeks are welcome to attend if invited by a Girl Geek.  
  • Cost: As we have been unable to locate a sponsor for this event, we do need to request £9 on entry to cover the cost of the catering for the event which we will collect on the night.
  • Registration for this event will close on 25th May.

If you’d like to attend on 30th May, please sign up via the Register button, and we’ll see you at the event!


Eventbrite - Reading Girl Geek Dinners Re-launch Event

5th Anniversary Dinner – 23 September

[tweetmeme source=readinggd] We’re thrilled to announce our September  2010 Reading Girl Geek Dinner, which is also Girl Geek Dinner’s 5th Anniversary, at Glo in central Reading. This event is kindly sponsored by DediPower.

You can come any time from 6.30pm with some networking; dinner will follow and we will have some more time for networking after the meal.

Being the 5th Anniversary, we are delighted to have a great speaker: none other but the founder of Girl Geek Dinners, Sarah Blow.

The topic is “Where It All Began”.

The event will commence at 6.30pm; dim sum dinner will follow from 7pm and we will have some time for networking during and after the meal.

As usual, come prepared to share ideas, be inspired and meet like-minded people. In a nutshell: join us to have a great evening.

Thanks to DediPower for supporting this event.

Full Details:

  • Date & Time: Thursday, 23rd September, 6:30pm for a 7pm start
  • End Time: Late
  • Venue: Glo, Reading
  • Hosted by: Girl Geek Dinners
  • Food & Drink: Dim sum, buy your own drinks
  • Subject for the evening: Where It All Began
  • Format: Reception, Dinner, Conversation
  • Capacity: 40 people
  • Attendees: As ever, boy geeks are welcome to attend if invited by a girl geek although on this occasion we do stress that there are few and limited spaces so more boy geeks = less girl geeks.

If you’d like to attend on 23rd September, please sign up via the Register Now button below, and we’ll see you at the event!

23 September Reading GGD: 5th Anniversary

We hope you are enjoying the summer – despite the occasional rain!

Some of you know already, but Girl Geek Dinners is turning five this year! At Reading Girl Geek Dinners we want to have our Anniversary dinner, and this is set for Thursday, 23rd September.

Eventbrite site for registration will be up very soon.

Sponsors Wanted
In the meantime, we have a great opportunity for a sponsor willing to support this next event. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested and/or want some more information: @readingggd or post a comment here.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing many of you on the 23rd.

Thank You and Dates for May

Thank you to those who came along on Thursday, despite the weather and the traffic! It was lovely to see you all at the April Reading Girl Geek Dinner.

Special thanks to our speaker Rachel Cooper and, of course, our sponsors Microsoft UK – without whom this event would not have been possible.

The next event will take place on Thursday 20th May and the registration page will be up very soon.

If you are interested in speaking at any of our upcoming events, or know of someone who is, please let us know. If you wish to support Reading GGD in any other way (including sponsoring one or several dinners), please do get in touch.

Have a lovely Easter!

The Reading GGD Team

April Reading Girl Geek Dinner – and the Team

[tweetmeme source=readinggd]We are setting up regular Reading Girl Geek Dinners for this year: we are holding them on the THIRD Thursday of each month after this session. We are always interested in your opinion, what you would like to hear about and, of course, if you wish to sponsor the event.

We are also delighted to announce that Natasha O’Brien has joined the Reading GGD team.

Our next event is Thursday 1st April (no joke!) and it is sponsored by Microsoft UK. We will be going back to La Tasca in central Reading.

The event will commence at 6.30pm; a lovely tapas dinner will follow from 7pm and we will have some time for networking during and after the meal.

The theme of the evening is “Dedicated to Ada Lovelace”. We will have a very interesting and entertaining speaker: Rachel Cooper, from Graphico – who will be talking about how she started in IT and about the amazing figure of Ada Lovelace.

Full Details:

  • Date & Time: Thursday, 1st April, 6:30pm for a 7pm start
  • End Time: Late
  • Venue: La Tasca, Reading
  • Hosted by: Girl Geek Dinners
  • Food & Drink: Spanish tapas, buy your own drinks
  • Subject for the evening: Dedicated to Ada Lovelace
  • Format: Reception, Dinner, Conversation
  • Capacity: 40 people
  • Attendees: As ever, boy geeks are welcome to attend if invited by a girl geek although on this occasion we do stress that there are few and limited spaces so more boy geeks = less girl geeks.

If you’d like to attend on 1st April, please sign up via the Register Now button below, and we’ll see you at the event!

Reading Girl Geek Dinners on Twitter

twitter_icons_256[tweetmeme source=readinggd]Recently we added a twitter feed to the London Girl Geek Dinners site and now I’ve created another one just for the Reading Girl Geeks. On it I’ll be sharing info from this blog, any big announcements and event related info.

Also when we have an event on in an evening and you want to know more or want to give us some feedback/ improvement suggestions etc, you can either leave us a comment on the blog or send us a tweet!

Our twitter URL is

We hope you like it!

Have a great New Year!