‘Tis the season when holiday parties dot or engulf our calendars. Have you ever dreaded going to a family, office or neighborhood holiday gathering?
Have you ever worried your own event might not turn out “right.” Well, my “Perfect Party Planner” may help you deal with your holiday happening woes.
“Patrice’s Perfect Party Planner”
Tip #1: If you are dreading a gathering, don’t go. Okay, okay, just kidding – although sometimes not attending is a valid option – if you’ve decided to attend or host an event try a few of these tips . . .
Thinking about a positive outcome – even for a few minutes, will make you much happier than worrying about a negative outcome for weeks, days or hours in advance – predict success! Parties and life get better when we predict better. Take a minute or two and picture the party working out great. Picture yourself leaving the soiree thinking, “Wow, that wasn’t so bad. In fact, I had a great time.” or “OMG, that was wonderful.” Envision whatever works best for you; the more details you create, the better. If you’re hosting an event, and are nervous about how it will go, picture everyone complimenting your food, decorations, (or whatever you really want them to compliment) and telling you what a great time they are having.
CREATE PLAN B, C, D
Giving yourself options in advance, will help relax you and if you are creative with your “blanks”, may provide you with a few well-needed laughs. Come-up with what you will do if you do find yourself getting frustrated or bored. “When I start feeling ___________ (frustrated, angry, annoyed, impatient, bored, etc.) , I will ___________(check on the kids; compliment someone; help with the food or dishes; walk outside; ask about someone’s vacation; dance; sing; get-up and walk across the room; sneak a peek at presents, etc. ) Special note: try not to fill the second blank with “Eat and drink everything in sight”, because as you might imagine that could lead to other problems.
Noticing them not you. When people are talking to you, stop thinking about what you are going to say in response or worse yet, looking around the room, and simply notice their eyes, take a second to really look into their eyes. (Please remember we are talking momentary eye contact here – going much longer might be misinterpreted and scare your colleagues or give your neighbor’s husband ideas – keep it short, okay?)
Diverting attention from your worries and putting others in the limelight may allow you to learn something and may help you relax and listen. Make a game out of the event. I do this almost every time I attend a party where there will be lots of folks I don’t know or don’t know well. Although I’m an extrovert, I’m a closet introvert at parties. I absolutely hate mingling at parties. I have done PR and special events for years and I’m completely comfortable in those realms, but for some reason small talk at social gatherings is really difficult for me, like run-out-of-the-room-screaming-difficult. So I have learned to make a game out of it, and decide ahead of time at least three things to find out about folks attending. Sometimes, I focus on learning what people love to do in their spare time, what they enjoy about their professions or to learn more about their travels or families. Another great way to go, especially with family members, is to ask about their favorite Christmas, or how they celebrated Christmas as a kid.
Each of these ideas is cost and calorie-free, and can improve any event. Pick and choose what works for you to create a fantastic holiday experience and reduce your stress level in the process. Some tips take more practice than others, but since holidays parties are here to stay – pace yourself and enjoy.
P.S. This is an updated post from 2010. Since holiday happenings, happen each year, I thought I’d make this column an annual event, as well. Do you have tips that have worked well for you, if so please share them! We’d love to hear about your best holiday party experiences.