The twinkling lights are shining on the front of houses, the trees have been put up and decorated, and carols have once again been added to shopping centre music playlists. That’s right, it’s Christmas time and we all know what that means: party season.
For those of us who may err on the side of introversion, the month of December can become an onslaught of forced small talk, uncomfortable gatherings and increased levels of social anxiety.
Whether it be an extended family get together or an end of year work party, there are times when this interaction is unavoidable, so here are some tips to help you get through the silly season.
Seek out fellow introverts
An introvert’s default hang-out spot at a party tends to be in close enough proximity to the food table that they look like they are participating in the festivities but are able to avoid conversation by shovelling handfuls of nibbles in their mouth. Get those introvert radars working, seek each other out and introduce yourself. Even if you don’t speak to each other, having someone else standing with you can be just the reassurance you need to not feel completely out of place.
Offer to help out
Ask the host of the party if they need any help with setting up or handing out food. Having a job to do can keep you focused and excuse you from entering into unwanted conversations as you move from group to group with a platter of hors d’oeuvres in your hands.
It may seem a bit stupid at the time, but practising some conversation starters or noting some topics of interest to talk about with people beforehand can be a godsend. As much as you may despise small talk, it’s just something that must be endured and finding ways to navigate it can ease the awkwardness at least a little bit. Try thinking of movies you’ve seen recently or a current event happening; talking about the weather can only work for so long.
Befriend the pets
Introverts all know that animals can be a lot easier to hang out with than other people, so if there happens to be a furry guest in attendance, great! You might even make a new friend (no, not the pet cat, I mean a human) as you bond over your love of small cuddly creatures.
Take time to regroup
Sometimes Christmas parties can just get too much to handle and you may need to take a bit of a timeout to recharge your social battery. Don’t be ashamed of that! We’ve all done a sneaky bathroom dash when we need to escape for a minute. Take regular breaks during the party to calm down and centre yourself before going back out there into the throng of chit chat and shenanigans.
Don’t feel guilty for leaving
If you find that your 5 minute bathroom meditation sessions aren’t helping your stress levels, just leave! Don’t sacrifice your mental health for the sake of chatting to people you never normally would in the first place. Find the host, thank them for the invite and their hospitality, and walk out that tinsel-covered door!
Now, go yonder and conquer that Christmas party!
I love a good Christmas party, but I know some of us can feel a bit out of place in overwhelming situations like these. I’ve definitely had my fair share of mid-party panic attack because I don’t know anyone else there. Do you have any strategies to help you get through the party season? Drop them down in the comments because I would love to hear them!