So you somehow got roped into hosting a holiday get-together this year, which means dozens of family members will be descending upon your house, and… this is your basic nightmare. Introverts are so much better at going to other people’s houses for these types of things because you can arrive when you want, leave when you want, and play with the dog instead of trying to participate in awkward conversation, right?
Maybe. But maybe not.
Having people at your house actually gives introverts several distinct advantages over having to go to somebody else’s house for the festivities. Here, we’ll help you cope and prepare. And by “you,” we mean “us.” Introverts, unite!
Prepare yourself for a long night (or nights, as the case may be)
As much as you might like for people to come, eat, and leave, the holidays tend to create a lingering situation. And, let’s get real for a second. You’ve never really been able to take off when you wanted to you from other people’s houses in years past, anyway. It’s always cousin Linda who has one more story or your husband’s Great Aunt Gracie who is always insisting you have one more piece of pie. If you can keep reminding yourself you got through it last year and the year before that and on and on, it’ll be easier to envision getting through it this year, even though the circumstances have changed.
It’s okay to say no
Even if you have already said “Yes” to hosting, you don’t have to take on the lion’s share of the hosting duties. The thought of all those before, during, and after tasks can bring on the anxiety.
“Saying yes to everything over the holidays can be overwhelming. A lot of obligations arise at this time of year, but it is okay to say no to some of them if you need time to yourself,” said The Alternative Daily. “A study published in Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences (2010) found a correlation between mental health and the ability to say no. The company Christmas party may be mandatory, but other holiday activities can be spread out to give yourself a breather.”
That may mean asking friends and family attending to help out at home. And if that just raised your blood pressure because asking for help is not in the introvert handbook, you can always ask for help with asking for help. Your spouse, mom or dad, or closest sibling is probably already aware of your introvert-ness. Put one of them in charge of disseminating duties so you can split up the responsibilities.
Or, take on as much as you can
Us introverts like to busy ourselves with tasks so we don’t have to interact. You could, conceivably, stay in the kitchen a good 90% of the time people are over. Of course, with today’s open kitchens, you’ll have less privacy than you would have in a more compartmentalized home, but you’ll still have so much to do you can minimize interruptions and limit conversations that include you.
“If awkward pauses are the thing you dread, you’re in luck because as the host you have so many excuses – filling drinks, clearing plates, etc. – to break away from a conversation to attend to things,” said Huffington Post. “This is one main reason that hosting a party is better than attending one.”
Limit other holiday activities
“The office party. The family party. The friendsmas party. Another family party. So many people. So much energy. It’s an extrovert’s dream,” said Verily. “But when it comes to introverts and a little downtime? Now that’s a party.”
You don’t have to attend them all. “During the holidays, you’re bound to have more social engagements than usual. Be honest with yourself and know when to say no to an invite,” said Pure Wow. “Remember that you don’t have to go to everything, and take time to really think about how much you can (or want to) handle over the next several weeks. We give you full permission to call out sick from that friend-of-a-friend’s Secret Santa party.”
When you do have to put a party on your calendar, bookending it with some “me time” can help you decompress.
Plan lots of activities
If you have lots of kids coming to your get-together, make sure there are crafts and coloring books. They’ll stay busy, and you can join in whenever you want to escape the adults. Some baking activities are also great because it means everybody will have something to do, and you can focus on tasks like completing a puzzle or decorating Christmas cookies.
Escape to a private spot
You may not have a place you can go at your brother’s or your aunt Lucy’s house, but at your place you know exactly where to go if you need a moment to scream into a pillow.
“Don’t feel bad if you need to take a small break,” said Huffington Post. “Take an extra-long trip to the bathroom or escape to your room for a few minutes. Sometimes that’s enough to help an introvert get through the rest of the night. No one will notice.
Go to the store
There’s bound to be something you forgot to buy and just can’t live without, right? Getting out of the house, even for a few minutes, can refocus your energy and give you the stamina to get through the rest of the night. Even better? Walk there if possible, given your location and the weather. Fresh air is a great equalizer.
Set an alarm
Just can’t hear any more of Uncle Larry’s angry political rants? That kitchen timer is your best friend. Set it before you sit down, or on the sly on your phone to build in an escape plan.
Seek out the extroverts
“The only thing extroverts love more than talking is a rapt audience,” said TODAY. “Ask the center of attention for a piece of advice and watch them go. Hopefully you’ll be joined by others close enough to overhear and you’ll be part of a garrulous group.”