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Surviving Holiday Parties

The Introvert’s Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year if you’re a social butterfly - aka an extrovert. However, for introverts, the holidays can be extremely stressful. To lessen the anxiety, experts advise that with a little pre-planning even the most introverted individual can survive the holidays - and maybe even enjoy them.

Dr. Miriam Blum, PhD and licensed psychologist, says the first step is knowing if you are more introverted or extroverted. “It’s all in how you recharge,” Blum says. “If you’re more into being at home and having down time, then you are more introverted. If you recharge by being around people, chaos and laughter, then you are an extrovert.” 

Introverts value self-awareness and being in touch with other people in an introspective way. They tend to be good listeners and don’t care to talk about themselves, so making small talk at a holiday party is uncomfortable. There are, however, things introverts can do to plan ahead and make the party circuit more palatable this holiday season, Blum says.

“Prepare for being in a social setting. Go online and get up to speed on current events, humorous happenings or jokes and other things that would be comfortable to bring up in conversation. And if you seek out an extrovert to strike up a conversation with, you will be off the hook because they love to talk and can be friendly with everyone.”

Setting expectations is a good idea for you and your partner or spouse. This might include the number of parties you are willing to attend during the season, the length of time you’ll stay at each and how many nights in any given week you are willing to be out in a social setting. It’s important to know your limits.

When attending a party, take a break, or a few, throughout the evening. You can take a bathroom break to recharge in the quiet, or offer to assist the host or hostess in the kitchen where you can busy yourself with a mindless task for a few minutes.

“Do not pull out your phone to escape,” Blum says. “That is a neon ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign and sends the wrong message to other party-goers.”

Find a meaningful reason to attend the party and be mindful of it while you are there. Make a mental list of attendees you only see once or twice a year that you would enjoy catching up with or vow to try a new food or drink.

Experts also suggest hosting the party yourself. After all, you can set a beginning and end time and control the number of guests with just the right mix of introverts and extroverts. The downside is there is no escape if you have reached your limit and the party has not.

And finally, decide what you will wear ahead of time so when the time comes to get ready, you’ll feel good about yourself and put together. 

“Whatever the occasion, dress mentally for it, embrace it, and be relaxed and at ease because it will be over soon,” Blum says. “Introversion is not a disease. It’s a way to be. And if you are OK with that, then others around you will be, too.”