One fantastic way to introduce your friends to making, or to help grow the local maker community is to have a maker themed party. There are tons of ways to do this, ranging from a slight maker angle to full-on project party. Here are 3 tips to help you get started.

Add a maker tray (my favorite)

typical party tray

typical party tray

At most gatherings I’ve attended, I find that people will group around food. It isn’t that they’re particularly hungry, it seems like it is more of the concept of having something to do with your hands. When we were having a gathering, we got an idea to set out “maker trays” which were just random bits of stuff that people could use to make things.

DSC02103 (Medium)

maker tray with wooden bits, pipe cleaners, a jar of miscellaneous trinkets, glue, yarn, and more.

Your maker tray could include anything. Here are a few suggestions:

  • pipe cleaners
  • yarn
  • popsicle sticks
  • construction paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • tape

Sounds a bit like arts and crafts in elementary school doesn’t it? Well, this is supposed to be the “making” equivalent of finger food. Nothing too complex, just something to occupy their hands. In my experience, they were very well received and we found little characters and structures placed around our house for weeks afterward.

Show and tell

Two men crouch next to a drone sitting on the ground outdoors.

© dusanpetkovic1 -Adobe Stock

Invite your guests to bring something they’re working on. Some will be more than happy to show off and brainstorm.  At our last party, Brian Zweerink showed up with a box of 3d printed radio controlled cars from his classroom. We all stood around and learned a thing or two about their construction.

Sometimes show and tell spills over into new toys or machines. At the last gathering I had, we did also end up standing around the sewing machine I had recently purchased. It is a great conversation topic, my friends had many questions! I didn’t make them sit down and learn how to use it like some kind of seminar though.

Don’t be too pushy

Two male and female couples gather around a laptop making funny faces.

© SolisImages – Adobe Stock

Remember that people don’t necessarily always feel like taking on a project. If you’re going to throw a party with a maker angle, keep the option open to just hang out. Even the most ardent makers may sometimes cringe at the thought of having to build something when they’d rather just hang out. Sometimes a build party or project party can be delightful! I’ve seen groups get together to assemble models, rebuild a floor, and even recently been invited to a stop-motion party. However, most of the time, I’d be happier to twist some pipe cleaners together while enjoying a nice conversation.