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Friendship Etiquette: An Expanding Group of Neighbors

Published: June 7, 2015 | Last Updated: March 2, 2023 By | 7 Replies Continue Reading

A friendly group of neighbors has gotten so large that logistical problems arise in arranging get-togethers.


Hi Irene,

A woman invited about eight (8) neighbors to a luncheon. Everyone had such a good time they wanted to do it again and one of the neighbors volunteered to host it at her house.

This time, one of the ladies could not participate so another neighbor was invited. This neighbor volunteered to host a luncheon at her house but invited twice as many neighbors.

Now one of the ladies wants to have a luncheon at her house, but can’t invite more than eight others. How can she limit the number of guests without offending the other neighbors (more than 15) who were at the previous large group luncheon?

Signed, Arielle


Hi Arielle,

How fortunate you are to have such friendly neighbors and a “organizer” who effectively created these get-togethers. It seems like this group may have been more successful than anyone ever imagined (or planned!)

Hosting more than 15 people is a big undertaking that many people wouldn’t be able or willing to take on. Thus, I would guess that the size of the expanded group may be an issue for others besides the woman who wants to host the next meeting.

Perhaps the initial group of neighbors needs to consider whether it wants to remain a posse of eight or expand.

Although well intended, the very friendly neighbor who expanded the group probably shouldn’t have made this decision on her own. It probably would have been prudent for her to discuss the plan with the initial organizer and/or the rest of the women from the first get-together.

Given what’s happened, you may want to speak with the initial organizer and get her thoughts. If the consensus is that the group should expand, everyone probably needs to figure out logistics for future meetings. For example, if one or more people among you can’t or don’t want to host such a large group, perhaps they can share hosting duties with someone who can and is willing, offering logistical and financial support for the get-together instead of their homes. Or perhaps, everyone could meet in a public place like the local library.

If the group members decide to limit its size, it is incumbent on someone (perhaps the organizer and the woman who expanded the group informally) to let the others know it simply isn’t feasible to keep the group so large and perhaps, it would be better split into two.

More to the point, I don’t think this problem should fall squarely on the shoulders of the woman wanting to host the next get-together.

Hope this is helpful.

Best, Irene

P. S. Coincidentally, I just read an article in Bottom Line Health that reported on recent research by Eric Kim at the University of Michigan on the topic of neighborhood cohesion.

Of 5000 adults surveyed and followed over four years, those who rated their neighborhoods as “friendly” had a 67 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who rated their neighborhoods negatively.

The presumption is that friendly neighborhoods provide essential social support, which prior research has also tied to better health outcomes.

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Comments (7)

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  1. ruthie says:

    Honestly this depends on so many things, e.g. cost to host, comfort level and / or experience of the hostess, risking fallout from hurt feelings of the uninvited, time and effort to organize the get together, who is the final decision maker, to name just a few.

    One thought is that a certain day or night of the month can be designated as the get together & all who desire to come can come. Everyone knows it’s always on such and such (2nd Thursday of the month, for ex) & it’s potluck (hostess provides meat only or whatever).

    I think it would be beneficial for the original organizers to meet and re-assess exactly what are the goals of the get together. I’m sorry to sound so sexist….if I know women and i hope i do since i am one, there will be 10 cooks in the kitchen each with varying ideas of what is the goal and what is acceptable and who is the decision maker.

    The goals may have changed, and it may clear up ambiguities if they are spelled out.

    One website that I find helpful for such situations is etiquettehell.com. Even though I’ve seen some rough attitudes there, generally speaking the good outweighs the bad on that site.

  2. Liz says:

    I’d also suggest that if you do separate out, and it probably does need to happen, that you keep the groups fluid. Don’t become group A, group B. Switch up who gets invited to your functions, and be transparent about it right from the beginning. This keeps it from becoming personal, hurtful, and you never know may lead to becoming friends with someone you didn’t expect to.

  3. Laura says:

    Time to move it to a restaurant. It’s getting too big and complicated. The next issue will be the cost. I also don’t see a big group like that holding up over time. It’s likely to split off into smaller groups, which in my opinion, would be best.

    • Laura says:

      Oh, and I agree with Irene that the woman who doubled this thing, should have checked with the others first! She messed up!

  4. Amy F says:

    Another idea, to keep things fair and people from being hurt, if women in smaller homes want to host functions, they can ask open the gathering to the first 8 respondents. Thus would avoid the perception of cliqueyness.

  5. Amy F says:

    I was going to suggest the same thing as Elaine about choosing s park or at the homes of those women who can accommodate more than 8. When dealing with that many people, in my experience not everyone can attend events on every date. Once a group has expanded, I think pulling back on invitations is bound to create hurt feelings, especially since 8 is roughly half the total number. If you make each event potluck, those with larger homes shouldn’t feel burdened with hosting. Also, some people are more naturally hosts than others.

  6. Elaine says:

    As Irene points out, this is a good problem to have. I would suggest that your neighbors hold a potluck in a local park instead of one neighbor’s home. That way, everyone can attend — and there is no burden on one host for food or clean-up.

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