10 tips to Ease Holiday Party Awkwardness
Holiday parties of all types can be sooooo awkward, especially when you don’t know anyone at the party really well. There is so much pressure to be “lively”, “talkative”, “engaged”, and “excited” because you are supposed to be in the holiday spirit. YIKES! Thinking of that kind of pressure is enough to make most people want to just go hide under the covers and say ‘forget it’. But, I always remind myself that “every friend was once a stranger” and “feel the fear and do it anyways”. It sounds corny, but you have to talk yourself into these kind of events, or else you would never go, right??
So since holiday parties with lots of random people can trigger feelings of anxiety even before arriving, here are some tips on how to ease the awkwardness:
1. Your outfit. Most events will be casual-ish, but if the event is going to be ‘formal’, make sure you get the deets about exactly what that means ahead of time. Formal or not, DO NOT wait until the last minute to figure out what you are going to wear – decide on your outfit at least a week before so you have time for modifications. Make sure your outfit is something that makes you feel extremely confident. And make sure it is comfy; no new high heels or shirts that choke you.
2. Pre-game with activities that encourage happiness. The day of the party, do some things that burn off steam, offer distractions, or really anything that makes you feel good and/or relaxed.
-Take a bath
-Work on your favorite hobby
-Read a book
-Hang out with your favorite friends
3. If you are not good at small talk, don’t beat yourself up about it. Sometimes nervousness can cause a person to talk way too much about themselves, or to not say anything at all. Solution: just have some things prepared that would allow you to have a two-way conversation. What are your favorite shows on Netflix or Hulu? Latest movies you saw? Cool cars out on the market? How the sports season has been going? Something you learned on the internet? Don’t involve politics, religion, or your personal beliefs that could come off “judgy” to people who don’t know you. And remember, open-ended questions lead can lead to conversations! So, instead of saying “So, you’re a chef huh?”, ask “What is your favorite meal to cook?”
4. Your grand exit. Know how long you are going to stay before you get to the event so you know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t feel bad about leaving early – the important thing is that you showed up and gave it a shot.
5. Take your own car. How many times can you think of when you were stuck somewhere you didn’t want to be because you carpooled with someone? Yeah, let’s take this stressor out of the picture right away. Can’t drive yourself? Consider taking a cab or Uber, especially if you plan on drinking any alcoholic beverages. (Drinking + driving = NOT COOL, Man. Not cool.)
6. Arrive early or on time. This way you don’t have to be the one walking into a large group of people who have already made acquaintances and end up feeling like the odd one out.
7. Bring something you made – like your grandma’s cookie recipe, or “spiked” egg nog – it’s a great way to have something to talk about right when you come in the door that will attract people to come over and engage with you.
8. Watch the Booze. Alcohol can help people relax a little. However, too much alcohol may make you unable to communicate properly which has the potential to exacerbate your nervousness/anxiety. You know yourself best, so decide what your limit will be ahead of time.
9. Take part in the games or activities. If you can find someone who is awesome to hang out with that makes you feel better about being there, keep hanging out. But, if you are having trouble with your surroundings, a great way to get comfortable with the people around you is to share an experience with them – participating in whatever activity is being suggested is a great way to feel a sense of inclusion.
10. Identify a place where you can escape to. We all need to have an ‘out’ if things get weird. Find an area to escape to at the party that isn’t overly-crowded (outside, the bathroom, etc…). Or, if the party awkwardness is truly unbearable, send a 911 text to a friend and have him or her call you regarding an urgent “emergency situation”. You can immediately excuse yourself from the festivities, dignity still intact (for the most part).
Whatever happens, always remember that everyone in the room is probably feeling some degree of uncomfortableness. So, just do the best you can and consume all of the free food and drink that you desire. It IS the “most wonderful time of the year” after all, right?
If you have an awkward holiday party experience to share with us, please do. Pictures are always welcome! Twitter: @BioTerraHerbs #goherbal or firstname.lastname@example.org