Have you dreaded going to a family, friend, office or neighborhood gathering?
Have you ever worried your own party might not turn out “right.”
Don’t worry, my “Perfect Party Planner” can turn your happening blues to a much happier hue!
Patrice’s Perfect Party Planner
If you are dreading a gathering, don’t go. Okay, okay, just kidding – although sometimes not attending is a valid option – try this instead:
1. PREDICT BETTER: 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 soirée 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 throw in the better. (I am wearing the perfect little black dress, my hair is perfect, and I weigh 10 pounds less than I do at any other moment.)
- If you are hosting an event and you are nervous about how it will go, picture everyone complimenting your home, the food, the decorations, (or whatever you want them to compliment) and telling you what a great time they are having.
The plan is to create a positive outcome. Your brain really can’t tell the difference – it always reacts as though what you are telling it is true. Predicting better – even for a few minutes – will make you happier and is better for your brain.
Worrying about a negative outcome for weeks, days or hours in advance causes your brain distress, it reacts as though a mini-flight or fight activity is underway. Remember, your brain is like a small child – it trusts you and what you tell it, treat it kindly and gently, predict success!
2. CREATE PLAN B, C, D: Come-up with what you will do if you do find yourself getting frustrated or bored.
- “When I start feeling _________ [bored, impatient, tired or frustrated, angry, annoyed (family party fallout), etc.], I will ___________(check on the kids; compliment someone; help with the food or dishes; walk outside; ask about someone’s vacation; dance; sneak a peek at the 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.
The plan is to give yourself options in advance, which will help relax you. If you are creative with your blanks, it may also give you a few laughs. Humor is the perfect gift – for you – no matter what the occasion!
3. EYE CONTACT: When people are talking to you, look into their eyes.
- Stop thinking about what you are going to say in response or worse yet, stop looking around the room or over someone’s head.
- Instead, notice their eyes. Take a second to really look into the other person’s eyes.
- I guarantee you, you will see or feel something completely different than if you spend your time thinking about what to say next, how to get away or how much you are dreading the conversation.
- Please remember we are talking about momentary eye contact here – staring or locking your baby blues with someone else’s for too long might be misinterpreted, scare Uncle John or give your neighbor Nancy’s husband ideas – keep it brief, okay? Look long enough to notice the color and details, look into them for a second or two, and then break your gaze.
The plan is to notice them not you.
4. GO WITH A GOAL: Make a game out of the event.
- I attended a party during the Christmas holidays where I only knew two of the 20+ attendees, so I made a game out of the evening and set a goal for myself to learn what at least three people loved to do in their spare time and their professions.
- One, loved Facebook’s Farmville and was a happy homemaker; another was a former ad man, who loved flying and his mechanical workshop where he works on model trains, and the third, a former flight instructor, loved just hanging loose while enjoying his retirement.
- This was a huge step for me. Although I am an extrovert, I am a closet introvert at parties. I absolutely hate mingling at parties. I did PR and special events for years and I am completely comfortable in that realm. I can talk to anyone just about anywhere, but for some reason small talk at social gatherings is really difficult for me – run-out-of-the-room-screaming difficult. But by going with a goal, I had wonderful conversations with at least 7 or 8 folks and ended-up exchanging emails with one of them.
The plan? To shine the light on someone other than yourself, your worries, or even lingering grudges or bad feelings you may have toward someone in attendance.
Each of these steps is cost and calorie-free, and can improve any event. Used in combination, they can help you create a fantastic experience and reduce your stress level in the process.
Some of the steps take more practice than others, but since the parties and holiday gatherings are here to stay and pop-up year-round, why not plan ahead, pace yourself and enjoy?