5 ways to survive entertaining as an introvert

I’ve struggled with being a painfully shy introvert most of my life. And social awkwardness was a natural by-product heaped on top of it.

Over the years, I’ve managed to move past the shyness and have gotten to a point where I love being around people—I can even do so without feeling like a total goob afterward. I’ve also discovered that having people over for a tasty meal is one of my favorite things.

But while I love entertaining, as an introvert it can be really draining (as can any gathering, really), which can make this wonderful opportunity to hang out with friends a super daunting task.

Thankfully, with a little intentionality, there are ways to survive entertaining as an introvert. You might even enjoy it.

1. Ask questions

One of my biggest worries was that I’d have to always know what to say. Instead, I’ve learned that asking questions is one of the best ways to talk to people. It helps you get to know them and shows you’re interested in who they are.

It also gets them talking so you don’t have to. If you’re not sure what to ask, do a quick google search for questions to ask people at parties. There’s no shortage of them.

(All the extroverts reading this are like, “Are you serious?”)

5 ways to survive entertaining as an introvert

2. Have a recovery plan

Introverts need alone time to recharge. And that’s okay. It’s who we are. That’s why I make sure to have some time planned for myself following an evening/day/weekend of hosting people so I don’t lose my mind.

Often it’s something simple, like a bath, a walk, or a few hours at a coffee shop.

Knowing that’s coming is a relief when I’m in the middle of entertaining and feel like I’m almost out of energy.

3. Dress to impress

I’m a huge fan of comfort, especially when it comes to clothing, but you won’t catch me hosting in my yoga pants. Why? I’ve learned that one of the easiest ways for me to feel confident and more at ease when I’m talking to others is to dress to impress.

And to be clear here, the person I’m dressing for is me.

I wear clothes I look great in (that are also comfy—that’s a must), I put on lipstick on and do my hair. Because it makes me feel good. And when I feel good, it’s so much easier for me engage with my guests because I’m not secretly feeling self-conscious about how I look.

4. Power pose

You’ve heard that our minds can change our bodies, right? But did you know that our bodies can change our minds? Specifically, body language. If you hold a pose that you equate with a certain feeling for two minutes, it changes the way you feel. It’s science!

So if you stand in front of your mirror, standing tall, with your hands on your hips, looking like a superhero for two minutes, you’re going to feel more confident. Try it.

5 ways to survive entertaining as an introvert

5. Invite extroverts

The answer to introvert social awkwardness is actually extroverts. Just kidding. Ok, not really.

There was this time that my husband and I were invited to watch a movie with a bunch of friends. And we drove our minivan so we could all talk on the way. Except there was barely any talking.

If you’ve ever wondered what happens in a van full of introverts, the answer is silence. Thankfully, it’s not an awkward silence because we’re all so happy to not say anything.

That’s why, if I’m having a gathering and we’re inviting more than one person, I make sure we have an extrovert present. And this really wasn’t a conscious thing at first until I realized that my dearest friends are extroverts, and I always invited one over.

They’re often the life of the party (which is just fine with me, thank you) and can help energize and draw me into being more lively as well.

Entertaining as an introvert is totally doable. Just plan a little first, take deep breaths and try to relax. (And don’t forget the extroverts!)

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11 Comments

  1. SC

    I would add to this – tag team with your spouse and have them spend one-on-one time with your guest/guests so you can have a break. I know even just doing the dishes by myself while they ran an errand for me helped me recharge and enjoy more time with our guests when they come back.

  2. KC

    Yes, assign the kind extroverts! Whenever we were having a large and introvert-heavy group of friends who didn’t already have strong connections, and people asked what they could do/bring, I’d occasionally ask those on the extrovert end to, instead of bringing ice, deliberately start conversations and bring people into groups and introduce them to each other – I could do some of that, but 1. I am not an extrovert and 2. I can only be in one place at any given time, and there’s also food/people-calling-for-directions/etc. to wrangle.

    With some mixes, extrovert assignment was totally not necessary, but I have a few friends who are liable to attend a party and then stand in a corner and never say anything to anyone, beyond a few words to the host (and, ahem, I may have been that person a few times… although then I developed the technique of drifting towards and introducing myself to the *other* solitary islands at a party). I don’t have a problem with people being quiet (and silence is okay when everyone is cool with silence) but I want each person to feel included (and be included!) and have the option of getting to know people better, and “my extroverts” generally did a solid job of bringing people into circles (where they could then be silent if they wanted to be, but more “in” things). It’s great. 🙂

    • Nina Nelson

      That’s brilliant, KC! Assigning people different tasks is a great idea.

  3. Elizabeth

    Being an extravert this was super helpful to help remember why some of my guests may have a harder time at an event I’m throwing. I love your first tip, and even though I am an extravert I do like to think of questions for people beforehand, especially if we’re spending time together for the first time. But maybe that’s because I’m a type-A extravert! 🙂 Thanks for this post!

  4. Linda Sand

    Set an end time for the gathering. I need people to go home now. People who know I am a night owl need to know that’s my alone time.

  5. Ana

    Introverts are not necessarily shy people. As an introvert I am not at all a shy person, though it is tough for me to have guests at home for dinner or going out to a loudy party.

    • Hanna

      I agree – I was going to say the same thing. This guide seems more geared toward shy people than introverts specifically (and extroverts can be shy, too!). I’m a true blue introvert and I’m perfectly comfortable making conversation and enjoy being around good people, I just find group socialization to be very draining. #2 on this list is speakin’ my language!

  6. Emily

    I tag-team with an extraverted spouse.
    While I’m in the kitchen, finishing cooking, he’s in the living room getting people chatting, offering drinks, making sure any children involved know where the toys are, being generally on top of things.
    Often there’s at least one other introvert in the group – I can tell who they are, because nine times out of ten they’re the person who comes to join me in the kitchen. Their offer of “help” is often also looking for a reason to be in the quieter room! (I have learned to plan for this, and have something they can chop/peel)

  7. Amy Roberts

    THIS. POST.
    I got a thrill when I read the title! These are some really great tips I’ve never thought of before. I know exactly what you mean when you talk about the daunting feeling of having people over or being in a group, even though you like people in general. It just feels so nice to know there are others like me out there! Thank you so much for this post!
    xo

  8. Elizabeth

    Thanks for your ideas in this post! I’m preparing for a party at my house in 2 weeks and feel the familiar dread of how exhausting the whole process is. One thing I like to do is prepare as much of the food/snacks/drinks/ice ahead of time so I don’t feel frazzled when guests arrived. I also set out the trays/plates with post-it notes and serving spoons so I remember where things go (again because of feeling frazzled!). Also I usually dress at the last minute and right before I head downstairs I do a quick yoga pose – legs up the wall for a few minutes. It both calms me and energizes me.

  9. Alyssa

    I thought it was just me! A month ago I was getting last minute prep done for my son’s birthday party, (we live in the mountains, far enough from anything that parents usually stay), and I said to my dad, “Why am I doing this? I don’t even like people!”

    I do like people one or two at a time, but people en masse, including several that I didn’t know, that was a stress inducing proposition!

    These are great tips which I will keep in me for our next gathering. And thank you for letting me know I’m not alone!

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