Hosting the party-shy isn’t an easy task. But the fact is, not everyone at your holiday party is going to be as outgoing as you are. So, it’s up to you to help them feel comfortable and have a great time.
Being a “host with the most” is about a lot more than designing an awesome menu and choosing a killer playlist. It’s also about having the ability to make every guest feel special, and from time to time being able to gently pull the occasional wallflower out of their shell.
It’s important that you find a balance between making your less-gregarious guests feel pressured to perform, and encouraging them to be themselves.
The holidays are a particularly tough time as party guest lists tend to be a mixture of friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, many of whom don’t know each other, so it’s up to you to make the introductions and ensure everyone feels welcome.
Make sure your invite provides info like the specific start time, a dress code, super clear directions to your place and parking info. That way they can arrive confidently knowing they’re dressed for the occasion, and knowing they’re arriving at the right place at the right time.
If you use online invitations, be sure to publish the guest list and responses so people can feel comfortable knowing other friends will be attending too.
PARTY SET UP
Create scenes where guests have something to do once they arrive. Set up food and drink stations where people can serve themselves and mingle with the other partygoers. If you’re hosting a formal dinner, use your place settings to arrange guests to maximize conversation and seat the party-shy close to people you know they’ll feel comfortable with, or next to that one friend of yours who always makes sure everyone feels included.
Arrange seating in your place where people can enjoy conversation corners. Not everyone likes to crowd together, so set up small clusters of chairs in different rooms so guests can find places to cozy up and introduce themselves.
BREAKING THE ICE
As your guests arrive, make introductions and include some personal or fun details about each person to help get the conversations started. Hook the easy conversationalists up with the less talkative folks, and be sure to point out common interests so it’s easier for them to jump into a chat.
To help people introduce themselves, design a sneaky or fun way for guests to exchange and remember names: have people put their names on their plastic cups, give them quirky wine charms to use, or employ name tags. Get creative and ask people to add a little something extra under their names like, which of the 7 dwarves they are, their favorite of Santa's reindeer, or the worst nickname they ever had. It’s a little corny, which is what makes it pretty fun. You’ll love what your guests come up with, and they’ll have a fun way to show a little bit of their personalities.
Be sure to check in with your guests during the party and if you find anyone lurking around solo, try to involve them in a conversation with another guest. On the other hand, if you discover someone who’s been trapped by your nosy Aunt Edna, for example, find a way to save them. An easy and polite way is to simply pull one of them away to help you with something.
A great idea for guests who don’t want to stand around talking is to enlist their help with party tasks (if they want to!) Ask them to take coats, play DJ or refill glasses. It relieves the tension of needing to maintain constant conversation, and can provide a stress-free break for people who are overwhelmed by crowded parties.
Party games can be another fun way to get everyone together and create insta-friendships. Group people into teams so nobody feels pressured into the spotlight—and never, ever force anyone to play if they’re not into it. When in doubt –Mad Libs never fails. (Especially if you encourage guests to get a little risqué with responses.)
At the end of the night, be sure to thank everyone personally, especially the party-shy peeps. When you’ve got a friend who isn’t much of a party person, realize they’re probably making an extra effort for you, so make sure they know you appreciate them.
I’m sending you lots of good vibes for a super successful celebration want to hear all about it! Be sure to share your stories below.