That moment before you walk into the holiday party.
Her palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on her sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
She’s nervous, but on the surface she looks calm and ready to drop bombs…
A little dramatic, sure. But if you’re an introvert you know what I’m talking about. Crowds of people, hours of small talk. I’d rather be at home, in my PJ’s, watching Netflix!
While many people think I’m an extrovert because I appear calm and at ease in a large group, the truth is:
Parties stress me out.
Any gathering bigger than about three people will bring on some introvert-induced anxiety in me. I’m much more of a cozy-night-with-my-bestie kind of girl.
I used to cope with these feels by downing a few glasses of prosecco and hoping for the best. After I hit 30 I realised that’s not really a long-term strategy and decided to deal with it like a Grown Woman.
I felt inspired by this quote, inscribed on the duster bag of my Kate Spade party clutch:
Whoever she is, I wanted to be her.
The kind of girl who floats back to parties, not the kind that hides out in the bathroom. (I have always been like this. As a child I used to hide in the coatroom at preschool). So, I bought some bright lipstick and got to researching: how can I feel more relaxed and happier at parties?
I found loads of advice. Here’s what helped me most:
- Dress in something that makes you feel fab (ah, now the lipstick makes sense!)
- Allow yourself to leave whenever you want (take the pressure off yourself!)
- Plan some conversation starters ahead of time (preparation is key!)
Conversation is so important. It’s how we connect.
This last tip addresses the number-one source of my own party stress: small talk with people I don’t know very well. I love deep conversation about life, what inspires us, what moves us … not so much about the weather or Brangelina’s divorce.
I was surprised that great conversation is something you could plan ahead and prepare for. But it makes sense. Even Eminem wrote down his lyrics before he “dropped bombs”.
Because conversation is such an important skill – and such a big part of your holiday party experience – I’ve called in the communication experts for help! I asked my friends at Schmooz Media to share their best conversation starters with us. Here’s what they had to say.
Small Talk with the Schmoozers
Holidays are a Time to Find Common Ground: At parties, I often struggle with the question “Where are you from?” because of my international background. This is something that I’ve noticed other people struggle with as well, being that we live in a diverse country. I tend to always prepare something along the lines of: “I’m Nigerian-born but I grew up living in 3 different countries before settling in Canada to complete my university degree and start my career. Were you born in Canada?” I practice this so I’m not caught off guard at parties. – Idris Lawal
Holidays are a Time To Make Someone Feel Great: “I always assume that everyone feels at least a bit insecure at an event – they likely don’t know everyone in the room, and making conversation doesn’t always come naturally with strangers. I like to compliment someone on something nice they are wearing – a necklace or a pair of fun socks. Showing someone that you noticed the little touches of what they chose to wear creates a warm and friendly bond, and conversation is much easier after that.” – Laura Maize
Holidays are a Time For Sharing Stories of Giving: “Here is a question I would ask at a holiday party to make small talk. What is the kindest gesture that you’ve received from a complete stranger? For example, back in University I went to the 9th floor of our library to study for an exam and upon sitting down in a cubicle I found a giant snickers bar and a cute post it note telling me to relax and that I will rock my exams. To this day I still have that post it note.” – Cassia Bommarito
Holidays are a Time To Reflect: I am much more comfortable one on one than I am in a group. Something that I do is try to find one or two people to talk with instead of sitting in a big group. Sometimes, I like to mention something that I thought about a year ago and how that has changed from then to now. For instance, “If you had asked me last December, I wouldn’t have any idea that Schmooz would have an office location. I was running my business from home then!” Then I like to ask what’s changed for them. You can learn a lot of interesting things about people when you reflect on something yourself. – Zoe Share
What I love most about this advice?
None of it really feels like small talk! It’s light and easy conversation that comes straight from the heart. These Schmoozers certainly know how to create instant connections with new friends. 🙂
I hope these tips help you, my fellow introverts, enjoy your holiday party season feeling happier and more relaxed!
Need to chill out after a night of chit chat?
Here’s a holiday card colouring template that you can print at home, courtesy of Colour Me Mindful (one of my passion projects). Enjoy it alone or with your bestie, with a cup of tea, snuggly blankets and some holidays tunes. You’ve earned it!