As the holidays approach, you may find yourself swamped with social expectations, dinner parties, and gatherings. As a person with parents who love nothing more than socializing during the holidays, I’ve developed a few ways to minimize the toll it takes on me, both as an introvert and as a person with a generally low tolerance for intrusive social interaction.
Personally, I find hosting dinner parties one of the hardest things to deal with during the holidays- my parents typically expect me to help before, during and after, which is exhausting. So I’ve developed a few ways that tend to help things go smoothly and retain energy. I know these won’t work for everybody, but they work for me. I hope they can help you, or simply entertain.
In order handle the preparation with the lowest amount of stress, my mum typically tries to make something that can be prepared a few days ahead of time. This is great in theory, but it also stretches pre-party prep to several days instead of a few hours. Personally, I find that if I can help with chores that don’t make me want to burn the house down, it’s much less daunting. Taking care of dessert? Setting the formal table? Sounds good! Cleaning up the dog shit on the lawn 20 minutes before everyone is supposed to be there, already in a dress and heels? Let’s just say my internal monologue gets -ahem- colourful.
I find the easiest way to ensure the happiness of my mother and impress her guests with my *good child* charms is to put on a persona. I typically go with a character that’s a little bit archaic; spoken only when spoken too, seen not heard, but when addressed can uphold an intelligent conversation with gusto. It also helps to play the role of a server; you’re there to ensure everyone else enjoys themselves. I find asking people questions maintains this persona well; people love talking about themselves, and you can just glaze over and pull the age old nod-and-smile trick. Laugh at people’s jokes, no matter how terrible, smile and just pretend you genuinely want to see them- works every time. If you ever feel the need to leave a conversation, simply apologize and say you need to help your parents with something: drink orders, appetizers, really, it doesn’t matter. The combination of engaging body language, punctuated conversation, and traditional properness will delight both your parents and your guests.
During the holidays, my parents have a party every year prior to attending the local theater for the holiday pantomime. In situations like this, where you are left at home, cleaning and prepping the house for round two (dessert) is typically the best. So put on some music and get started on the pile of dishes in the sink. When the dishes have been washed, dried and put away, reset the house. Ensure any little snack bowls are full, set the table for dessert, maybe do a quick vacuum. If you can, get the fireplace going. Everyone will stumble back in, ready to revive their party, and this will allow them to do so with limited problems; allowing you to slip away after dessert has been served. Plus, if your parents are happy, your life will be a hell of a lot easier.Trust me, this is an underestimated factor.
I hope this post helped those who needed it, and I will be back with a continuance of my “Introvert’s Guide” series, so be sure to check back if you enjoyed this!