5 Tips to Help Introverts Survive Office Holiday Parties

coworkers at office holiday party

The hustling, bustling holiday season can be overwhelming for everyone, but it can be especially overwhelming for introverts. 

With so many social gatherings and holiday events – not to mention family get-togethers – the end of the year can feel more miserable than magical if you’re not one who looks forward to small talk, appetizers, and general togetherness. 

For many people who tend to be more introverted, work holiday parties are often especially challenging scenarios. Being forced to socialize with people you have a cordial, professional relationship with outside the context of the office can be a bit awkward for even the most social of butterflies. As an introvert, it can be daunting, uncomfortable and just plain undesirable. 

So what do you do if you are an introvert who is expected to participate in your office’s holiday festivities? Here are some tips to help you get through the gatherings you’re dreading.

Introvert Tips for Attending Office Christmas Parties

Decide If You Really Have to Go

If you’re dreading your work holiday party, take a closer look at why you’re going. Is attendance actually required, or do you just feel particularly obligated to go? If your team knew that you were going to be very unhappy about attending, do you think your managers and coworkers would still request that you go? Will the party be uncomfortable, or will being in that particular social situation feel unbearable?

In most cases, holiday parties are optional activities that happen outside of required work hours. You may be highly encouraged to go, but if the added stress of attending feels like it’s going to send you over the edge, remember that – in most cases – you do have the option NOT to go. 

Bring a Friend or Significant Other

Having a sidekick that you’re comfortable around can really help to make an awkward office party situation at least a bit more tolerable (and at most a lot more fun).

If at all possible, bring your significant other or another plus-one along with you. This will guarantee that you’ll have someone to chat with throughout the night, plus you’ll have a sidekick to help you navigate any awkward conversations or interactions you find yourself in. You’ll also have another person to help you start conversations and keep them going. 

Dress Comfortably

Some people go all out dressing up for holiday festivities, but if you’re not into that don’t feel obligated to do so. You’ll want to make sure you are following the dress code for the party venue, but you don’t need to show up to the party looking like someone other than yourself.

This may seem like a small, simple thing to do – and you may be wondering how this will help you be better equipped to handle navigating a holiday party – but trust us. If you’re physically comfortable in your outfit and you don’t feel like you’re dressed in a way that puts you outside your comfort zone mentally, you’ll be less on-edge and more capable of accommodating the other aspects of the gathering that you find uncomfortable.

Don’t Be Afraid to Step Outside

When and if the holiday office party starts to feel like a bit too much for you to take, simply plan to step outside. Now, outside doesn’t have to actually be outdoors. (It’s winter, of course. Who wants to go stand out in the snow?) Your ‘outside’ just needs to be outside the general atmosphere of the gathering. 

So when you arrive at the venue, take a look around and scope out where you might be able to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of the party. Whether you step away to the restroom, take a lap around the lobby or venture out of doors to take a deep breath of fresh air out in the parking lot, it will be good to have a quiet space in mind where you can give yourself a break.

Plan a Low Key Activity for Afterwards

Whether it’s immediately after the holiday party or a bit further down the road (think later in the week – not months later), be sure to schedule a time for a relaxing activity you love and look forward to. 

This activity will serve two purposes. Firstly – and especially if you do this immediately following your holiday party experience – it will help you to unwind and regroup both mentally and physically after the gathering. This can help you overcome the feeling of overwhelm you might be feeling. Secondly, this downtime will give you something to look forward to, which can help get you through the feelings of anxiousness you’re experiencing as the office holiday party date inches closer. 

Don’t Let Your Office Holiday Party Leave You Feeling Frazzled

The holiday overwhelm is real, and if you’re an introvert who dreads the social aspects of the holiday season, you’re not alone. 

Keep these tips in mind as you head to this year’s holiday (or politely decline to attend, if the first tip really resonates with you), and you just might find that you’re able to enjoy yourself! 

And if not – you made it through this year’s festivities, and there’s always next year to try again.

Looking for more tips on making it through the holiday season as an employee? Be sure to check out the following: 

Office Holiday Party Etiquette: Tips for navigating the awkward social/office crossover event that is your work holiday party. 

10 Office Secret Santa Ideas: Don’t fret about what to get for the office gift exchange. We’ve got you covered with 10 gift ideas so good, you might just want to keep them for yourself.