Attending a party and socialising like a normal human being, in a non-pandemic world, is challenging for everyone. Read this guide before your next get-together …
Under the current restrictions in the Republic of Ireland, members of three households or more are free to meet outdoors, or six people from any number of households. Fully vaccinated people – those folks with both doses – can meet indoors in private homes if there are no more than three households there. This means, yes, a little get-together, is now on the cards for the general public.
But… we are a bit rusty on the socialising front.
Hello, I’m, hey, how are you? Wait, sorry, thanks, you too …? Ugh. Attending a party and socialising like a normal human being, in a non-pandemic world, is challenging for everyone. Yes, not just introverts – we all feel like social disasters. So, if you feel this way, you’re not alone. You just need reminding as to how to attend a party, because you have forgotten.
Remind yourself of why you want to go. Know you don’t have to go
Before you head out to the party, employ a little mindfulness. Think about why you’re going. It could be to reunite with beloved friends you haven’t caught up with in forever, or to let off some pesky built-up, work-related steam. Maybe your reason to attend is that the party could be useful, from a networking point of view – or maybe, it is merely to enjoy a fun chat and a glass of wine, in a different house, without worrying about the clean-up.
There is usually a decent reason to attend a party, and where there is, remind yourself of it. Maybe chant a little inner mantra. This will boost your confidence and self-assurance ahead of the get-together, and you’ll be better company for the other guests when you don’t have one eye on the door. However, if you really wrack your brain and can’t find a damn good reason to go, then, don’t. There will be other parties, particularly as the pandemic recedes.
Dress comfortably – and like yourself
The first gathering after lockdown is not the time to try out a new-fangled statement piece. Don’t try curling your hair if you’ve never tried it before. Don’t don a heavy bejewelled ear cuff all of a sudden, or try out a pair of pointy-toe heels you haven’t worn before.
Ensure you’re comfortable. It is often the case that the first thing we think we want to wear is actually what we return to 30 minutes later having discarded all other options. And then, we’re 30 minutes late. But if it feels comfortable, it’s the right choice. Add a coat or layer keep you warm when mingling outdoors.
Bring a token
Bringing something to the party is a great way to break the ice. Extra points if it’s inventive – once, a guest arrived to my Christmas party with an industrial-sized box of Tunnock’s Tea Cakes. Joy! Freshly baked sourdough, a chilled, ready-to-open bottle of bubbles, a huge bag of coffee beans – all simple but stylish.
Give yourself a job
The other great thing about being on time, when others aren’t, is the potential to make yourself busy and helpful. Nobody likes a busybody, but busybodies love being busy. If you’ve watched Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix, you’ll know superchef Samin Mosrat takes the time to give her dinner party guests a specific task that contributes to the dinner that they will soon all sit down to eat, e.g. chopping lettuce, or shucking peas, or grating cheese. This is a great idea, as the ice is broken without too much small talk.
The guest who comes alone is the most approachable person at the party. Nobody likes two-headed demons – we get it, you and your partner or BFF are inseparable – but it can be considerate to arrive at different times and talk to different guests, so that other guests don’t feel they’re attending a panel interview when you stand in front of them, hand-in-hand. That way, you two will also have more to talk about later.
When it comes to greeting, go with the elbow bump
No one has ever been so protective of their personal space as they are now. It is totally normal to be cautious yourself – you have done so well, kept to all the rules, and deprived yourself of hugs for this long – it would suck to fall at the final hurdle. The best way to go about this is to go with an elbow bump. Most are cool with that, and those that aren’t can do a half-hearted air-elbow-bump in response. For those feeling starved of intimacy, I assure you, just being at the heart of a laughing, happy, warm gathering will fill a significant part of that void.
Manage your energy: take a break
It can be exhausting, social interaction. We are certainly not used to it – and doing so if also taking a drink is doubly taxing. Take your time. Feel free to find an opportunity for a break , or choose to listen and ask questions instead of talking.
A quick self-evaluation regarding the capacity of your social battery can be useful. You might say, well I do tend to start to flag around three hours into the function. That’s vital information! You can arrange to leave around then, and book a taxi ahead of time.
Leave your phone alone – it sends the wrong signal
Although it’s tempting during quiet or awkward moments to check your messages, hold off. A phone in hand can be off-putting to other nervous partygoers who might fancy talking to you. It is very normal to be suffering from a little addiction to the screen, given that it has been your access portal to humanhood for the past while, but tell yourself this party is the best springboard to recovery. Sitting and listening – even passively, to another conversation – is something you’d have killed for over the last few months.
Apparently, and somewhat annoyingly, the physical act of smiling can elevate your mood, and banish nerves. So turn up the ends of your mouth in a natural humanlike fashion! Less of a beam and more of a cheerful expression … Relax and enjoy!
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