Entertaining For Introverts

August 11, 2017 (Last Updated: November 5, 2020)

With the holiday months approaching, you might be excited to throw parties, but may not be the most social of butterflies. Here are 7 tips to ease the anxiety.

A vintage image of a concerned woman at a party.

Just because you have limits to the amount of social interaction you can handle, it doesn’t mean you don’t want company. Introverts are just extra sensitive to the amount (and kind) of company we can engage in before we become socially fatigued. 

I’m intensely uncomfortable in forced social situations, with small-talk and in large groups of people, but I do want company and to be with people I care about.

With my parties, I get to carefully curate the tone and mood. I choose the company, I choose the atmosphere and I design a social experience that makes me comfortable.

It’s actually quite liberating because I often feel so forced into company with strangers. After all, I live in New York.

That doesn’t mean throwing parties is always easy. Sometimes friends bring people I’ve never met. Sometimes I have to throw family parties with folks I’m not too fond of, and sometimes I love everyone at the party but they don’t mix well and conversation becomes tricky.

And then there’s the dreaded “What if they don’t show up?” fear that everyone has, whether they’re introverted or not.

You can’t always be prepared for every awkward party situation, but if you’re brave enough to throw one as an introvert, here are 7 tips to calm your fears and help you throw a glamorous party.

1. Plan to be finished a half hour before guests arrive

You can’t always perfectly plan to be done with everything just in time, but if you can, plan to give yourself at least a half hour of time to chill, light some candles, survey your lovely, clean space and have a little drink before guests arrive.

It will calm your nerves and give you time to collect yourself for the social barrage ahead.

2. Have lots of conversation pieces

If conversation doesn’t come so easily, and the cat gets your introvert’s tongue, it’s always helpful to have some great conversation starters on deck. A few of my favorites are:

  • A muted television with a visually fun classic movie like Barbarella, Sunset Boulevard or Some Like It Hot.
  • An eclectically decorated dinner table
  • A fascinating coffee table book
  • An automated slideshow of photos of my guests from parties or trips that I can play on my Apple TV. They always spark fun conversations about lovely memories.

3. Only invite people who appreciate your efforts

First and foremost, (if you don’t HAVE to invite these folks) don’t invite flakes, bailers, fair-weather-friends or people that don’t appreciate how much work goes into a dinner or cocktail party.

You don’t need any more anxiety than you already have. Fancy parties are for those who deserve your lovely work, not for people who show up 3 hours late, or don’t show up at all.

4. Be very clear about the time in your invitation

…And I don’t simply mean correctly adding it to your Facebook event. For cocktail parties, folks tend to be a bit fashionably late and that should be expected, but for dinner parties, you need to be very clear about what time dinner goes on the table.

Our generation doesn’t enjoy as many fancy dinner parties as our parents and grandparents did, so they may not be aware of the rules. Make sure to politely inform guests that cocktails are at 7:00, but dinner is at 8:00.

That way, you won’t have jitters about how to serve everything hot and fresh and keeping the conversation going while your other guests hungrily wait for the others to arrive.

5. Give yourself permission to be imperfect

Right off the bat, give yourself permission to make mistakes. Expect that you will. You’re not a 4 star restaurant, you’re one fabulous person.

Everyone wants to impress their guests, but if the steak’s a little tough, if the bottle of prosecco bursts open, if the deviled eggs aren’t perfectly ready by the time your door bell rings, take a nice deep breath. People feel more comfortable around imperfection anyway. They want to help.

If at the last minute, the cake drops to the floor, laugh it off. Again, you’re only inviting people that appreciate your efforts. They’ll understand, and it will make for a funny story next time.

6. Don’t leave music to the last minute

Music is one of the most important aspects of a cocktail or dinner party, but it’s so easily left to the last minute and it can cause a lot of panic.

There’s nothing more awkward than silence or when your typically predictable Pandora station goes rogue. You have enough to worry about than to leave the atmosphere to chance.

And if you’re looking for suggestions, I’ve got the perfect music for your party!

7. Face your fear, head on

Everyone in the world has party anxiety. You want everything to be perfect, you’re afraid people may not show up, and if you’re an introvert, you may simply be afraid that you won’t know what to say or might even be afraid that you don’t have enough social energy to get you through the night.

It’s stressful, so tell yourself it’s OK to be stressed. Say to yourself “Yup. There’s stress. There’s anxiety. There’s my introversion.” And say “Hello, anxiety. I see you there. I know you think you’re protecting me from having my feelings hurt, but I’m OK. I’ve made beautiful deviled eggs. See?” And move a tiny bit slower.

Breathe a little deeper and say to yourself, “No matter what happens, I’ve done my very best and perfected my tiramisu.”

Recognize your efforts, congratulate yourself and when the terrible things your mind tells you will happen don’t actually happen, notice it!

Listen to the laughter, enjoy the hugs, accept the help. You’ve got this. You’re the loveliest host(ess) in town!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    September 13, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    These are such great ideas! The ability to have a cocktail (or meditate, if that’s your thing) beforehand really helps to feel centered.

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