Here to Help: How to Make Arriving at a Party Less Stressful

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Whether you love them or hate them, parties are important. They are where people meet future business and romantic partners and friends, where small talk becomes the stuff of life. Here are steps you can take to make arriving at a party less stressful and more fulfilling.

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HAVE A PURPOSE. There's a reason you're going to this thing. If there isn't, you should think about not going. Take a moment to identify, realistically, what your purpose is for going. Is it: To make a business connection? To meet a new friend? To relax? To have a good conversation? To taste some new food or wine? After you define your purpose, it becomes easier to set a goal for attending the party. Then you know what you want to accomplish before you have to leave.

FIND YOUR ENSEMBLE. Party prep should involve what you wear. Pick a tried-and-true outfit — "whatever taps you into the best version of yourself," said Morra Aarons-Mele, author of "Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert's Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You'd Rather Stay Home)."

"Some people like to choose a great blouse or jacket or necklace, like a talisman. That's powerful," she said. Or imagine "the person who would play you in a movie," and dress like that for a boost of confidence.

WHAT TO BRING. Daniel Post Senning, etiquette expert and the great-great-grandson of Emily Post, explained that "the classic rule is to show up with something in hand." Nowadays, however, "you don't always need to show up with something for your good friends," he said. If you feel more comfortable arriving with a bottle of wine or a token of your appreciation, by all means, go for it. "If they say, 'Just bring yourself,' you can take them at their word," Mr. Post Senning said. "Or you can bring that toffee that they love."

Remember that conversation is part of what you bring to any social event. Ms. Fine said, "I don't walk into a party without two to three things to talk about." These topics can be anything that's interesting to you in the moment, and you need not even talk about them — but they are there if you need them.

© 2018 THE NEW YORK TIMES.

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