11 Ways to Make Entertaining Less Stressful for Introverts

An introvert hosts a dinner party

Having company used to exhaust me and cause an “introvert hangover” — but these tips have helped make entertaining less stressful.

Entertaining is complicated for almost anyone. But for introverts, it can seem altogether overwhelming. Rewarding, but wholly depleting — and sure to lead to an “introvert hangover.”

As a dyed-in-the-wool introvert, I have discovered things, through the years, that make entertaining much less anxiety-provoking for me. My husband’s career is referral-based, and he’s a pretty social guy, so we do a lot of entertaining. It was super taxing and exhausting for me at first, but I’ve learned how to enjoy it and breeze through it. (Yes, even as an introvert!) 

And I no longer need to recover like a hermit for days afterward. I have a system. And you, too, can benefit from my years of trial and error if you follow these tips and tricks.

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11 Ways to Make Entertaining Less Stressful for Introverts 

1. Practice — start small and go from there.

Just rip off the Band-aid. Plan a party, but invite a small group of friends who make you feel really comfortable — you know, the ones who “get” you. Even if you just invite a couple of people over, it’s all about practicing. You’ll get better at entertaining each time you do, so start simple and repeat regularly.

2. Invite no more people than can fit around your dining table.

Small, intimate groups are a better fit for introverts. Those big, loud group dinners? No thanks. And if you aim to just have as many people as will fit around your dining room table, it’ll be more conducive to an introvert-friendly gathering. This way, chances are, the group will track a single conversation, which means less small talk.

3. Plan everything out — this way, you’ll minimize anxiety the day of the event.

We introverts are planners, and the more planning you do in advance, the better. Plus, it’ll greatly reduce day-of anxiety. Figure out the best time of day to hold your event, make a menu, make your shopping list (referring back to your menu), and make a prep timeline. What needs to be ordered? What needs a day to marinate? Work backwards and get all of these things on the appropriate day’s to-do list. 

In essence, plan to do all of your thinking before the doorbell rings. Introverts are not good at thinking on the spot while they are socializing. (This explains why I’m so bad at keeping score while playing Bunco!) And, speaking of planning things out in advance…

4. Prep as much food as you can beforehand.

Prepping food and drinks goes hand-in-hand with planning. Do everything that can be done ahead of time, well, ahead. I have a wonderful recipe for make-ahead mashed potatoes. Make them the night before or first thing in the morning. One less thing to scramble around worrying about right before the doorbell rings. 

Set the table the day before, too. Make the hors d’oeuvres trays in the morning, wrap them, and throw them in the fridge. Cut the bread, wrap it in foil, put it in the oven, and set a delay bake to be finished when you plan to serve dinner. Chop the salad ingredients. Set out the wine, opener, and glasses. 

I even jot down a list of all remaining tasks in reverse order from the last task to do before the doorbell rings to those that can be done way ahead and assign approximate times to each. Don’t get overly crazy about this — I know how we introverts love to overthink! — but you know making a veggie tray takes about 20 minutes, vacuuming the sofa takes five minutes, etc. If there is a recipe that has multiple ingredients that is a last-minute stovetop situation, I even measure out and gather all of the ingredients, chop the herbs, and prepare everything like a sous chef.

5. Prep conversation topics and activities beforehand, too.

Similar to how introverts like to plan, we also like to rehearse what we’re going to say — or at least anticipate what we’re going to say. So rehearse the flow of the events in your mind. Doing this helps me envision the evening and predict hiccups.

Also, think about what you know about each of your guests. Come up with one topic of conversation or question for each. And rehearse their names close to party time — to have them fresh in your mind and to avoid an embarrassing mind freeze.

Similarly, have an activity ready to perk up a lull. Most likely, the evening will flow effortlessly, but, just in case, have a game like Telestrations ready to grab and go. 

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.

6. Keep your timeline handy and refer to it often.

To help you stay on track, keep your timeline handy — and then hide it right before the doorbell rings. I never want my guests to know how much effort I’ve put in. I’m afraid this would make them uncomfortable/make them think I’m crazy. Like I tell my kids, hide the evidence!

7. Don’t go into your event with an empty energy tank.

Mind your calendar. Socializing, while fun, depletes you of energy and emotional bandwidth. To ensure you are fresh for your event, keep the days leading up to your event as clear as possible. Be honest with yourself about what drains you and try not to schedule too many of those things in the week leading up to your event.

Speaking of energy, eat some protein before your guests arrive, too. Low blood sugar is a killer any time, but it is especially hard if you are already fighting feeling anxious. You may need to force yourself to eat, but do not skip this. It’s so important.

8. Wear something flattering, comfortable, and cool.

If you’re wearing something you feel good in, you’ll probably be more confident — which will help your mindset when it comes to hosting your event. Plus, you don’t want to wear something that will make you work up a sweat more so than you’ll already be doing, so dress accordingly. 

9. Pay attention to the ambience.

The environment can help set the tone for the evening, too. So adjust the lighting and turn on some relaxing music. This will warm up the room for everyone and ensure that there is no actual silence.

10. Employ a friend or loved one to be your cohost — and divide up the tasks according to skill and comfort level.

My husband is almost always my cohost. But sometimes it’s my mom or sister. My husband has the capacity to chat and follow a fussy recipe simultaneously. I can not chat and think. So, he does any detailed cooking that needs to be done after the guests arrive and I do the salad assembly, attend to drinks, refill appetizers, etc. By each focusing on your skill sets, this will minimize stress and allow you to enjoy the event.

11. Warn your loved ones ahead of time that you may need to withdraw for a while immediately afterwards (in order to recover your energy).

If your loved ones know ahead of time that you may need some alone time right after the event, chances are, they won’t take it personally. Since not everyone understands that this is how we introverts recharge, it helps to give them this heads-up. (Plus, my social husband is happy to take over the hosting role if I need to go get some space.)

My fellow introverts, what tips would you add to the list? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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