The Introvert’s Guide to Holiday Parties

party by jpovey

{photo by jpovey}

I‘m one of those people who doesn’t like parties very much. Although people find it hard to believe, I am painfully shy when it comes to talking to people I don’t know. I find social occasions challenging and would rather stay at home. Funnily enough though, once I’m there I usually have a good time. It’s the thought of the party that does my head in.

This holiday season, I have a few tips on how to survive parties when you’re an introvert.

Give yourself a time limit

Before you go, tell yourself you’ll only stay for one or two hours. You can endure anything for a few hours and when the time comes to leave, you won’t feel guilty because you’ve made an arrangement with yourself in advance. Of course, if you’re having fun you can always stay.

Feel beautiful

Unless you rock the sexy look normally, don’t try and look sexy for the party. Pick part of your body that you love and highlight it. If you have great legs, wear a short skirt. If you have great boobs, wear a low neckline. If you have a great back, wear a halter top. Try for pretty rather than smart. Wear a floaty dress or a patterned top. Feel comfortable and attractive rather than poured into a tight dress that makes you feel self-conscious.

Listen rather than talk

Most people love talking about themselves. Reply with more questions than answers. Rather than use the tried and true opening lines, lead with a compliment and a question.

That’s a great shirt you’re wearing ~ where did you get it?

I’ve never seen a bracelet as pretty as that before ~ did you buy it in Australia?

Repeat back their answers

To keep the conversation, just repeat back their answers to them in question form. It is the same as saying “tell me more” and it also signifies you are listening to them.

Your wife gave it to you last Christmas?

You got it at the Rocks Markets?

Talk about a different subject than you normally do

If it is a work party, then ask questions about the person’s family or hobby. If it’s a family affair, ask about their work. Try to uncover one thing you didn’t know about that person.

Start with the men

I’m not talking about flirting, but if you’re a woman, talking to men can be easier than talking to women. Men enjoy company, are natural story-tellers and love having their egos boosted. Just ask them about their dreams, their mission, and their latest accomplishment and they’ll talk for hours.

Make the first move

Don’t wait for someone to start talking to you, make the first move. It will make you appear more confident than you’re feeling and will stop you sitting in the corner feeling out of place. Pick an extrovert rather than an introvert to start with (you’ll know the difference).

Make it a game

Decide to talk to six different people or to three people you’ve never met before. Make it your mission to find out the holiday destination of everyone at your table or what they were most proud of in 2011. Give yourself a challenge and then go for it!

Have fun

It won’t be fun at the beginning because the voice in your head will tell you you’re not interesting enough for anyone to bother with you. Ignore it and go talk to someone anyway. Action brings confidence not the other way around.

What about you? Do you feel shy at parties? What are your tips on how to meet new people when you’re an introvert?

About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

8 thoughts on “The Introvert’s Guide to Holiday Parties

  1. I just went to my first holiday party of the season last night, and I realized just how much more sensitive I’ve become this year. Once the room surpassed 7 people, I totally shut down – I just couldn’t take all the energy and noise around me. For me, the idea of the party is always more enticing than the party itself, so I usually have to duck out early. It makes me a bit of a party-pooper when it’s big groups, but I’m awesome at smaller gatherings. Hey, at least I know my limit, right?

    1. I went to a party on Friday night and had a brilliant time. You comment made me think about why I didn’t feel overwhelmed by all the people (what you describe happens to me too). It was because it was a cocktail party that flowed from inside to outside and I tended to stay outside on the edges of the gathering and talked to a few people at a time.

      The actual geography of a party does make a difference.

      I’m one of those people who wants the outside table at a restaurant too and I always face away from the crowd. I bet you’re like that too?

      1. OMG… the “outside table” thing totally describes me!

        I’ve learned that I can only be comfortable in a crowd inside if I can at least *see* a wall with a window or door on it. If I’m somewhere in the centre of the room with people pressing in around me on all sides it often feels as though I’m going to go into a weird kind of synesthesic sensory overload – I tend to avoid crowded shopping malls and events for exactly that reason.

  2. Here via the shout out in Ellie Di’s newsletter, and so glad I checked your post out – so much great information in here.

    I have this weird blend of extroversion and introversion where I’m fine meeting one new person and talking to them… or being a in a small group of new people who are all there to do something specific. But put me in a party environment and I’m terrified. If someone comes over to talk to me, I’m fine making conversation; but insinuating myself into an existing conversation, or walking over to someone who’s not talking to anyone else can sometimes feel like it’s going to trigger a panic attack

    1. Hi Tanja — I’m exactly the same. If I know people or we have something in common I’m passionate about you can’t shut me up but with strangers it’s a completely different story.

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