An Introvert's Guide to Hosting a Holiday Party
Being shy shouldn't prevent you from entertaining, should you want to.
If you consider yourself an introvert, chances are you love a quiet day or a night spent solo. That's not to say that you don't enjoy company at all—you simply prefer to limit the amount of time you spend socializing. Introverts often feel that the pressure to create conversation with others, sometimes even close friends and family, can make them feel self-conscious or anxious, which is why most prefer not to host holiday parties, notes Rudi Rahbar, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who specializes in couples and families. "It is more challenging for them, as big parties, crowds, or get-togethers only make them feel more exhausted—unlike extroverts, who usually thrive in that environment."
Being an introvert, however, shouldn't exclude you from participating in or even hosting a holiday party—especially if you'd truly like to. Ahead, expert tips for introverts hoping to host a celebration this holiday season.
Set time limits.
If you're an introvert planning a holiday party, be sure to set clear starting and ending times, advises Dana McNeil, a marriage counselor in San Diego, California. "A good example of this might be to host a holiday happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m., with the timeframe clearly stated on the invitation," she says. "This gives the host permission to shut down the party at the designated time and serves as a gentle way to let guests know when it's time to leave." This also reduces the host's anxiety over having to be mentally and emotionally "on" for long periods of time.
Structure the party.
McNeil explains that introverts prefer to know what to expect at a given time, so it's better to host a party that includes some sort of schedule. "This allows the host to have conversations that can be pre-planned; [they] can start the party off in a way that allows them to feel more in control of the intensity and flow," she says. "Structure is better for an introvert because it reduces the anxiety created by worrying about the unknown."
Suggest visitors stay at a hotel or vacation rental.
Especially if you're short on space, consider asking that out-of-town family member or friend to stay at a local hotel or Airbnb for the duration of their time in the area. "The introvert needs downtime and space to collect their mental and emotional energy," says McNeil, which is near impossible if houseguests are in the mix, even post-party.
Invite at least one extrovert.
"An introvert doesn't like being the center of attention or going through all the duties that's expected of a host (such as making the rounds)," notes Rahbar. For this reason, she recommends inviting at least one outgoing person who is likely to place all the attention on them—in this case, this isn't a bad thing. At the very least, he or she will provide some conversational entertainment.
Don't compare yourself to others.
Just because many of your family and friends thrive in social environments—and even feel energized by them—doesn't mean that you have to. "There is no value comparing how others approach life or their interest in being social because that is not how you operate," says McNeil. "You are perfectly acceptable and complete as you are, and different doesn't mean broken."