There’s no dread quite like going to a party where you don’t know anyone.
The rollercoaster of emotions has happened to everyone: the initial excitement of receiving a Facebook event invitation and the buzz of accepting; followed by the nauseating anxiety that comes once you check the guest list and realise you have ZERO friends (worse, no mutual friends) going.
Okay, best-case scenario, it’s your friend throwing the shindig. And maybe you’ve met their co-hosting housemates before. Good, so that means we’re now dealing with a social safety net made up of one to three threads. Hmmm, that’s still enough to make a social trapeze artist run away.
It’s looking dire, you’ve got no plus-one (they just bailed) and small-talk makes you squirm. You’re considering bailing too. Don’t you dare.
Believe it or not, it’s actually possible to rock up to a party alone and still have a great time. Here’s how you do it.
Make A Strategic Entrance.
You don’t need any special effects (leave the glitter, smoke machines, and doves at home). You just have to pick a smart arrival time.
If you haven’t been recruited to help set up, it’s fine to show up a little bit late – but not too late, that’s just rude. Aim to get there sometime around half-an-hour after the official start time.
By then, you’re out of danger of being the first person there and having to awkwardly wait around and make small talk with the other early-birds. But there aren’t too many people that you’re lost in the crowd, party cliques haven’t formed, your one friend isn’t deep in host-mode, and no-one’s too drunk yet (phew).
Be The Snack [Table] You Were Born To Be.
So many people will say to step away from the snack table. But isn’t everyone at the party for the free food and drinks? (yes.)
Ask your host buddy if there is something you can do to help out. It’s not only polite (so you look like an A+ person), it keeps you looking and feeling busy. You could crack open a few dips, fill up the chip bowls, or walk around with the spring rolls; whatever it is, you’re in.
Wait And Hover, Without Being Weird.
A host is always keen for their guests to MINGLE and HAVE SUCH A GOOD TIME! And it’s likely your pal is keen to introduce you to their extended circle of friends attending (it’s even more likely you’ve been texting about potential meetings all week).
But if you’ve been left without any guidance, try the Wait and Hover method.
First, find a strategic spot near a small group (or just park yourself near the food and drinks) and wait for conversation to lull, or for something interesting or relatable to come up. Then, pop in by elaborating on the topic or asking a question.
I don’t mean to interrupt but did you say you dropped your phone down an elevator shaft in Moscow? Crazy! That happened to me in Sydney!
Keep It Simple, But Elaborate.
All it takes is the simplest things and you’ll be off and racing. But don’t forget to elaborate.
Steer clear of short answers or closed questions. Try and get a story out.
A good snowballing response to “how do you know [your friend]?” isn’t: “we met at uni”.
No, you’re best friends because you were in a particularly traumatic group project together, that you two basically carried the entire way – but it’s okay because you got a HD.
Or if you literally can’t think of a question, compliments work a treat.
Cool shirt. Nice earrings. I love your shoes! Where did you get them? I’ve been dying to get something like it! I just love that style, it suits you so much. I saw them on…
(see? so easy.)
Know When It’s Time To Leave, And Extend (if you wanna).
This applies to the actual party and conversations.
There’s no point pressuring yourself to stick around when you’re not having any fun.
If a conversation is going nowhere, polish off your drink and excuse yourself (or go ‘hunting’ for a bathroom). Then start the cycle again. The same goes for the party.
Pick a time to leave that’s around three-quarters before the ‘official’ time of death as your checkpoint. If you’ve had had all the fun you can have (or none at all) and it’s all over for you, say your thanks and bid adieu. But, if you’re fluttering around like a bonafide social butterfly, extend it by another half-an-hour. Then another. Then another.
Before you know it, it’s closing time. You’ve made it through a party all on your own, and guess what? You had fun.
Image Sources: Twitter (@Islasnewfilms), GIPHY