August 21, 2017
As an introvert, I know that playing host can be exhausting — but I also love it! How is this possible? It’s all about having the right game plan. Read on for a dozen ways to cope — even enjoy yourself — when you have people over, even if your ideal night usually involves a good book and a comfy armchair.
Entertaining when you’re an introvert takes a lot of effort, so don’t waste it on an event your heart’s not invested in. Think honestly about annual holidays and birthdays and intentionally choose which you would enjoy hosting — and which you’d rather attend at someone else’s home.
Prepping early is good advice for anyone throwing a party, but it’s essential for introverts. While extroverts tend to gather energy from being around others, we introverts find it incredibly draining. After years of wasting my limited energy reserves on frantic last-minute prep, I’ve finally learned to get things done ahead of time: Clean the house, do the shopping and prep as much food as possible the day before, leaving plenty of time before the party to get myself ready and maybe take a few deep breaths.
As someone who loves decorating, I may be more than a little biased. But hear me out: Having cool coffee table books, photos, unusual antiques and objects sprinkled around the party space makes for natural conversation-starters. Been on a trip recently? Put a small photo book or bowl of loose photos on the table where guests can’t help but reach for it, or introduce your guests to a new food discovered on your travels.
Having a bestie arrive before the other guests is like having a “soft opening” for your fete. Then, when other guests arrive, your friend can help take some of the weight of socializing off your shoulders.
Stressing out about whether the food will come out all right is the last thing you need to be doing. This goes for everyone hosting a gathering, but for introverts most of all. When you have a few go-to recipes in your back pocket that you make with confidence, you can relax about the menu and turn your attention to other things.
make it music you love! Having music on in the background makes it less
awkwardly silent when those first guests show up. Of course, if you
followed tip No. 4 (invite a good friend to show up early), you’re already
ahead of the game.
•Drinks tip: Introverts, imbibe with care! It can be tempting to calm your party nerves by sipping those drinks a little too quickly. If you do choose to imbibe, select something light (and less alcoholic) to begin the party, like Prosecco or rosé.
One thing I tend to stress over when hosting is how to create good flow within the party space. Will everyone clump together uncomfortably in one room? What if there aren’t enough seats? Eek! I feel much better when there’s something to tempt guests into each corner of the party zone. The art of strewing is simple: Put some snacks on the coffee table, a self-serve bar tray on the credenza and twinkle lights on the patio. These small touches let guests know they’re welcome in these areas, without your having to say a thing.
The great thing about hosting when you’re an introvert (as opposed to attending a party at someone else’s house) is that you have complete control over the guest list. No more worrying that you won’t know anyone!
Be sure to invite a few people you feel totally comfortable around, and who’ve been to your home before, to put you at ease.
Also invite a few extroverted friends — they’ll help get (and keep) conversations going.
Put a little potted plant or flowers cut from your own garden on the table instead of fussing with fancy flowers; set out mixed nuts and olives instead of baking trays of complex hors d’oeuvres — in other words, keep it simple. And if you actually enjoy making intricate floral arrangements, or calligraphy labels for each dish, limit yourself to one special touch per party. Save your energy for what matters most: enjoying time spent with people you care about.
Does the formality of a sit-down dinner give you the willies, or does the structure make you feel more secure? Go with what feels most comfortable and doable to you, whether that means hosting a dinner for six or a backyard barbecue for 12.
As the host, it should be easy to come up with reasons to get away from the hubbub for a few minutes. Let yourself check on something in the kitchen, snip fresh herbs from the garden or just hang out on the front porch.
In all likelihood, no one will notice a thing, and if it helps you maintain your energy throughout the party, it’s worth it.
What does your ultimate night in look like? Gather a few of your favorite treats in advance (a book, some delicious tea, a new season of a favorite show cued up on Netflix) and reward yourself after the party with a restorative evening at home.