Some of us love parties – and some of us don’t. Party-lovers relish the opportunity to see lots of old acquaintances and make some interesting new ones. They enjoy the buzz, the energy, the noise. Some love the spontaneous stuff that just seems to happen at parties.
Others amongst us can find parties quite difficult, even painful. They find them too loud, over-stimulating, too demanding of energy and attention – and too long.
And some people might be in the ‘Goldilocks’ camp – somewhere in between these two.
To help you survive what can be a seasonal minefield, take these 5 festive party tips:
- Get yourself a job
- Go easy on the alcohol
- Ask great questions
- Keep your valuables on your person
- Set a realistic time to leave
If you find parties an endurance test, this one’s for you. Someone somewhere will be grateful for help. Just ask the host what you can help with – taking people’s coats, topping up everyone’s drinks, passing the canapés around, handing out the quiz or organising games, being a roving photographer. These all give you ways to circulate and meet people with a reason to strike up a conversation. No, not the washing-up – that’s a cop-out, and it’s what dishwashers are for.
This is particularly important if, a) it’s a business party or, b) it’s a family party. Both have the potential to turn really bad if there’s too much booze involved. Quiet souls can be more at risk than the exuberant here: gulping nervously on a drink whilst sitting quietly listening to others talk, and then suddenly behaving out of character. Start with a soft drink, have mixers, not neat drinks, and grab several glasses of water during the evening (memo to self: take own advice). Not surprisingly, “Don’t drink too much” is one of the top tips from UK managers in the Institute of Leadership & Management’s ‘DOs & DON’Ts for the Christmas party’.
“What are you doing for Christmas?” doesn’t really cut it for originality and great conversation. “What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you at Christmas?” is a bit more like it. Or “What’s your favourite book or film of this year?” And how about “What are your predictions for next year?” If it’s a business function, you can always apply the wise words of a former boss of mine from long ago: ask people about their hobbies. You’ll be amazed how many taxidermists and dectectorists are out there. The School of Life has some great conversation starter cards – check them out here.
Hands up if you’ve ever left your phone / wallet /house keys / etc at a party (and only realised when you got home that you had). This is what pockets and tiny handbags are for – See The Independent’s selection of party bags here. And at risk of sounding like your gran, hit the ATM before the party not on your way home.
If you really can’t bear parties and want to leave early, do your host the courtesy of telling them you’ll be leaving early, either when you accept the invitation or when you arrive. If you don’t want to be the last person on the dance floor, or you’re with a partner / group of friends, agree beforehand when you’ll be leaving to pre-empt any sulking later.
If you’re an introvert who’s dreading the party season, you might like (fellow introvert) Beth Campbell’s post on Dr Nerdlove, which has tips on handling different types of parties, from the one where you know no-one – to weddings. You might also like Menninger’s tips here.
Dawn is the author of ‘How to be Zoomly at work’, available on Amazon.