Well Happy Birthday To You!

I tend to be a bit of an introvert when it comes to parties and with mine coming up and the planning going along nicely I have started thinking about the whole topic. And I start to think about a list of things that, while short sorta gives you an idea of what I want to say.

Extroverts tend to be able to socialize at the drop of a hat. Introverts may need more of a prompt to do so. Consider party activities, like card or board games, something to watch as a group (Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is a standard), or a craft get-together. Make sure that anyone is welcome to just hang back and watch. A dinner party can also provide a helpful structure.

  • For some people who are shy or have social phobias, rather than merely being introverted, eating in public can be really scary. One way to get around this is to have multiple activities available, of which eating is only one. A mandatory “we are all eating together” activity may not work for some people/groups (while it will be great for others).
  • You may not have control of space layout but if possible, quiet spaces should be accessible (and facilities accessible from them) without going through the thickest part of a crowd.
  • Stated Activity. Catan, video games, geekery, etc. This provides a mental structure to work/socialize in. Pure socialization with people you don’t know well is awkward and I want to go hide so much of the time!
  • Similarly minded mix. If I’m the odd one out… I just kind of awkward penguin around for a bit and leave early. E.g., everyone but me doing the video game du jour.

The introvert will spend less time worrying pre-party, as well, if you tell the introvert whether they are expected to provide something for the party. If they are, tell them precisely what to bring and in what amount. Two boxes of donuts, one jug of beverage, a dozen packages of animal crackers, whatever. The feeling of active contribution without the emotional strain of “was it enough?” has often been very helpful to me at parties. And please make it very, very low price. “Hey, could you bring a bottle of Pepsi with you?” is NOT A BURDEN, it is a godsend.

Have places to retreat to, such as secluded reading nooks, a cloakroom, the kitchen, or similar. This can help free up the bathroom for people who need to use it for the intended function, if there are other places of (relative) solitude. Consider the need for multiple, two-or-three-person areas. Two or three can sit around in companionable silence that’s almost as good as being entirely alone (sometimes better), and a party with more than one introvert may need corners suitable for all of them.

Avoid the sorts of long games that if you start, you’re committed to an hour or more, unless you know that enough people to play them are actually into that. Though I have played a rousing game of Wink Murder with a group that was a lot of fun.

Introverts are often very good at conversation and interaction if you provide a no-stress way of determining compatible conversation topics and an easy way of getting people into the conversation. If you have matchmakers in your crowd, subtly exploit them or make them ambassadors that can bring people in or peel off of conversations to find wallflowers. In most unfamiliar situations, I tend to observe and not talk much, unless/until I can be reasonably certain people will want to listen to my input and that input will not cause social problems or anxiety. Having an ambassador there who can steer people to compatible conversations helps lots.

My sister knows all of this of course. Which is why she decided to make it a country cow boy/girl themed party. I am not sure about the invitations that he picked out. They are decent, that isn’t a problem, but they sort of remind me of vintage wedding invitations which strikes me a little as odd. But when I asked her she said that they were cute. Actually it was more: “WHAT?! You don’t like them? I thought that they were cute.” To which I said: “OH no, no, they are great. I just….” Blush.

I hope to help remedy this lack so please let me know what else am I missing?

Mini-update On My Birthday

I’ve had a bit of breathing room, and I am trying to squeeze a bunch of planning even though I have a chance so I’m back with another small updated to keep things interesting.

My question regarding the birthday guest list is as follows: my sister wants to throw to me a party in my parents house (she still lives at home) and it will be the only party that I will have.

All the potential invitees are invited to the party. I have eight people in the category of “family” and thirteen in the category of “friends”, all of them are definitely people I would like to invite.

Then I have two separate work groups (five and eight each, so a total of thirteen) I am on the fence about since it is at my parent’s house and I don’t want to turn it into a house party. Also my sister wants to invite a couple of her friends so that will be extra. Fortunately most of them know one another, they liked and enjoyed the company so it is not a matter of bound to invite people I do not like feeling. The money is not really an issue since it would be at my parents and my father is cooking (he is a great cook). I suppose my dilemma is that I am not sure if it should include these people mostly because they are my close friends, more like the people I have worked with and really like. I think mainly because they are older people so that it would not hang out with outside of work apart from function work where as people “friends” in my peers (age-wise) and I have spent time with them separately and more regular work keep in touch with them. Also I don’t want to come across as grubbing gift. If you were in my position, would invite people to work?