How do you throw the perfect introvert party?
When you think of the typical party-going crowd, I doubt you picture introverts. Most would rather be at home, safe from loud music and incessant chatter, enjoying a book, movie, or quiet time alone.
Just a week ago, a friend of mine told me how much he was dreading a party his wife would be hosting at their house. She was going to have her girlfriends over, as well as their husbands and children. While my friend’s wife had great relationships with her pals, my friend did not enjoy relating to the husbands. He hardly knew them.
He also remembered how their children had wandered his house unsupervised the last time his wife’s friends were over. One of them had ransacked the bathroom and squeezed soap all over the floor. Worst of all, my friend told me that the upcoming party had no cutoff time, so he had no idea when everyone would finally be gone.
No introvert in his right mind would enjoy that kind of party. There is, however, a way to have a successful introvert party. You just have to keep in mind 11 secrets.
1. Don’t call it a party.
If you want your introvert friends to hang out with you and feel relaxed when they do, don’t call the get-together a party. I know, I know, it’s semantics, but the word party carries a negative connotation for most introverts. They picture crowds of extroverts talking overtop of one another and shouting over a DJ or boombox. Instead of the “P Word”, try using gathering, get-together, or hang out. These words bring to mind a relaxed atmosphere with friends who know each other, something almost all introverts enjoy.
2. Send out an agenda.
Before your party ever starts, put together an agenda of how you anticipate the night will go. Whether or not you are a planner, put one together. Your plan doesn’t have to be detailed. Just provide a general overview of what your guests should expect.
Include the following information:
- When the party will happen
- Where it will happen
- How many guests will be there
- What they need to bring
- Activities you’re planning
- The purpose of the event
- How long it will last
- Anything else you feel is relevant
A brief agenda will help your introvert guests gear up for the party, which they need to do. This is because social interactions and activities drain introverts, compared to extroverts who thrive in party atmospheres. This fact doesn’t, however, mean that introverts dislike parties. On the contrary, it just means that they appreciate any information that will help them gauge how much energy they’ll have to spend and determine whether or not they’ve got enough “charge in their batteries” to stop by.
3. Cap the guest list.
When you plan an introvert party, limit the number and kind of guests you invite. If you want to persuade your introvert companions to join you, aim for a low number, say 10 or 15 people. Also, try to invite primarily guests that know each other.
Few introverts look forward to hanging out with a large crowd of strangers. There is too much small talk and too little depth in that kind of setting. Furthermore, consider how many unfamiliar faces will be at the party. Whenever you anticipate a higher ratio of new folks to familiar ones, reduce the guest list even more: The low numbers will put your introvert friends at ease.
It’s worth noting here that introverts can tolerate large crowds. Introverts aren’t shy or antisocial, as the dictionary definition suggests. They can mingle with the best. For an introvert, whether or not she attends a party comes down to her interest level, how much energy she’s got, and how much energy she’ll have to spend.
4. Design hideaways.
To honor your introvert party guests, be sure to create “hideaways” wherever you’re holding your party. (This idea comes straight from Sophia Dembling’s book The Introvert’s Way.) A hideaway is a place of escape safe from noise and activity. It can be a quiet alcove, a side room, the bathroom, a backyard, the kitchen – virtually anywhere. It just needs to be a calm place where an introvert can get away for a while before rejoining the crowd.
To help you grasp the importance of hideaways, picture an introvert you know equipped with a battery gauge. As she meets new people, listens to loud music, and absorbs the activity around her, her energy levels drops. Her mind starts to cloud, her thinking slows, and she grows increasingly lethargic. She knows she needs to escape to a quiet, private place before she shuts down completely.
Hideaways, then, are like charging stations for introverts. Similar to how a cell phone can’t work without charge, your introvert friends won’t be able to keep going without breaking for a spell.Similar to how a cell phone can’t work without charge, your introvert friends won’t be able to keep going without breaking for a spell. Click To Tweet
5. Offer introvert friends a “job”.
For introverts, a big problem with parties is that they lack structure. Parties require guests to ad lib, which means they’ve got to generate conversational material and come up with things to do. This kind of on-the-spot thinking is draining, so a great way to put an introvert at ease is to give him a job (which is another great tip from Sophia Dembling).
If you’ve got a volleyball court to set up, put your introvert friend in charge. Need help in the kitchen? Enlist an introvert companion. Who’s going to set the table? Why not an introvert!
These kinds of jobs help introverts feel useful. They also allow them to be part of the party without pressure to socialize. As other people offer to help introverts with the jobs they are doing, natural, more intimate conversations ensue.
6. Plan activities.
Another way you can provide comforting structure for an introvert party is to plan activities. When you set the table, for example, suggest some get-to-know-you questions and icebreaker activities. Before and after dinner, set up board games and yard games. The activities don’t have to require a lot of planning.
An introvert myself, I usually prefer parties with games to the ones without them. When I can throw a football or play corn hole with other guests, bonding happens naturally. I don’t have to strain to think of things to talk about, and awkwardness melts away.
Movies are great too. An introvert can socialize before and after a film, knowing that she’ll have time in between to relax. During the flick, there’ll be no pressure to generate conversation for at least an hour.
7. Establish a cutoff time.
If you’re hosting a party and you’re married to an introvert – or you have one for a roommate – show her compassion by setting a party cutoff time. Potentially endless parties suck the life out introverts before the events ever start.
You telling an introvert you’re going to have a party with no cutoff time is like me telling you you’ve got to prepare the taxes for a multimillion dollar corporation all by yourself with none of the necessary documents filed or organized. You’d lose your mind before you even got started because you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s an exaggerated taste of how an introvert feels when thinking about a party with no end time.
Cutoff times allow introverts to gauge potential energy expenditure and plan accordingly, which, on the whole, helps them enjoy parties way more. If you host relatively short, reasonable parties with cutoff times, your introvert spouse or roommate will be open to you having them more often.If you host relatively short, reasonable parties with cutoff times, your introvert spouse or roommate will be open to you having them more often. Click To Tweet
8. Hire a babysitter.
If kids are in the picture, hire a babysitter. There’s nothing worse than wild kids running around unsupervised, pillaging a house. Just watching this kind of raucous scene drains an introvert.
Where there are unsupervised children, there is disorder and chaos. Kids bump into guests, put their hands on food, and jump on furniture. Worse yet, children feed off of other children: the more kids there are, the crazier things get. A party with children will almost always be louder than a party without one, and, remember, extra noise is a definite no-no for introverts.
If you don’t want to pay for a babysitter, make sure you specify that your introvert party will be for adults-only. Your friends will thank you and be more likely to come back again.
9. Introduce guests.
Whenever you do invite guests who don’t know each other, take a little time to introduce them to one another. If you’re an extrovert, this will probably be fun for you. If you’re an introvert, this will be easier for you then for your friends because you’ll already know all the guests.
When you introduce your friends to one another, try to emphasize each one’s strengths and what you like about him – or tell a story that paints him in a positive light. Most important, point out common interests between the friends you’re connecting:
“Joe, Fred, I’d like you to meet one another. I’m excited for you all to connect. Fred, here, loves deer hunting, and Joe, you, just got back from a two-week elk hunt. I bet you guys have some great stories to swap!”
The more you connect introvert friends, the more relaxed and appreciated they’ll feel. Start them off well with a great introduction and conversation will flow naturally from there.
10. Don’t expect everyone to talk to each other.
On the flip side, don’t expect your introvert guests to talk to every guest at your party, even if you introduce them. On the whole, most introverts prefer meaningful conversations with a few people to shallow conversations with many.
For introverts, initiating conversation takes a lot of energy, even if they’ve been introduced. It’s only when an introvert finds common ground and similar interests with someone new that she starts to relax and let down her guard. This process is draining and takes time, so introvert friends tend to favor longer conversations with a few people. It’s what they have energy for.
If you tend to worry when your friends don’t talk to each other, don’t. They’re just being themselves – not rude or standoffish. If you want introverts to get to know one another, give them time to connect over several consecutive gatherings and grant them the freedom to do so on their own timetables.
11. Allow guests to come and go as they please.
Finally, to host a winning introvert party, bear in mind that every introvert is different. Introversion and extroversion stand at opposite ends on a continuum, and everyone falls at a different place on that continuum. As a result, your introvert friends will have various capacities for social interactions and activity.
If an introvert friend takes a walk outside, slips into the bathroom, or leaves early, don’t hold it against him. He’s not dissing your party, and you didn’t fail him. He’s just reached a threshold and needs to get away to recharge.
In fact, even if you go above and beyond to prepare a winning introvert party environment by honoring all of the aforementioned party secrets, your friend may still leave early. Don’t fret! It’s not your fault. Your friend may have had a crazy week with little down time and, by the time of your party, be running on empty.
Instead of judging him, accommodate his needs. Allow him to show up late and leave early. If you give an introvert freedom to come when he wants, he’ll have a chance to rest before he arrives, which will help him “charge his batteries” and stay at the party longer. In turn, if you let him leave early when he needs to, you’ll not only show yourself to be a considerate, gracious host but you’ll also increase the chances of him coming back for your next get-together.If you give an introvert freedom to come when he wants, he'll have a chance to rest before he arrives, which will help him “charge his batteries” and stay at the party longer. Click To Tweet
In the end, the most important secret to a successful introvert party is recognizing and honoring your introvert friends’ energy needs. Do this, and you’ll host near-perfect introvert parties.