An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving Holiday Parties

screen_shot_2015-12-02_at_3.34.19_pmIt’s that time of year again—the merry-go-round of holiday parties at the office, in the neighborhood, at book club, at your spouse’s office, at the kids’ school…the list goes on and on. As an introvert, that packed calendar, full of occasions when I will have to make small talk with people I don’t know, makes me want to put my head down on my desk.

But wait! I’ve learned a few tricks over the years that I’ll be using this holiday season, and I’m going to let you in on the secret. (Spoiler: the secret is not “have a couple of drinks.”)

  1. Decide that you’re going to have a good time. This may sound obvious, but often we are anxious about the party, and we bring our nervousness into our expectations about the whole event. Remember that you do like people! And that the rest of these tips are going to help you enjoy the party.
  2. Stand in line. As you are waiting to get food or a drink, it’s a natural and easy time to exchange a few words with the person nearest you. Offer your name, then follow up with a comment about how you know the hosts, a compliment of your new friend’s clothes or jewelry, or a question about what brought them to the get-together. The finite nature of the line itself gives a quick out if you’d like to get away from the conversation, or you can keep chatting when you’re out of the line if things have gone well.
  3. Give yourself a goal. If you know a few people at the party, don’t just huddle with them on the couch. This is a great, low-stakes chance to practice chatting—give yourself an achievable goal, like “I’m going to talk with three people I’ve never met.” Once you’ve met three new people, you can go hang with your friends.
  4. Ask if you can help. Sometimes introverts feel awkward because we feel out of place. If you know the host well enough, see if you can come a little early and help them move chairs or put ice in the cooler. You will have loosened up before the other guests start to arrive, and you may feel more comfortable with the gradual build-up of guests than walking into a full-on party.
  5. All parties are not created equal. Some parties you have to go to, some you really should, some you really want to. If you know the holiday party swing is going to leave you with too little alone time, budget your energy. It’s fine to go to a party and stay for just 30 minutes, so look over your calendar and decide where that party energy is best spent.

Happy holidays, fellow introverts! May your home be a quiet oasis this holiday season. ☺

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