As an introvert, you can give life to a party without being the life of the party.
If you asked anyone the least befitting thing an introvert like me could do, most would agree that it is planning a bachelorette party. I know this, because when I mentioned my role in said upcoming event to my friends, their drinks practically shot out of their noses, followed immediately by laughs of “What?!” Yet that’s exactly what I found myself agreeing to do in the months before my sister’s wedding.
Right away, the classic movie scenes involving male strippers, drinking games, and dancing at packed clubs flashed through my mind — activities so far out of my comfort zone, I wouldn’t be able to find them with exact GPS coordinates and an elite team of carousal-sniffing dogs (nor would I want to).
Like most introverts, I like my parties like I like my dishwasher: empty, quiet, and not my responsibility. Nevertheless, emboldened by my appointment — and armed with Susan Cain’s teachings of introverts excelling outside of their comfort zones when pursuing meaningful projects — I swallowed my blooming anxiety and set out to throw my sister the best (and, well, only) bachelorette party she’d ever have.
Whether you have to plan a bachelorette party — or another type of “extroverted” event — here’s how you, too, can give life to a party without being the life of the party.
4 Tips For Planning a Party as an Introvert
1. Don’t be afraid to enlist help (as long as it’s the right kind).
When undertaking an introvert-unfriendly task like party planning, feel encouraged to reach out to a more extroverted friend for assistance, or at least one with more hosting experience. (You won’t lose your Introvert Card, I promise.)
I held varying levels of familiarity with the party’s attendees, some of whom lived out of state, so I initially thought it a good idea to include all eight guests in the decision-making, particularly with big-ticket items like cost and location. However, this text chain of conflicting personalities and preferences (not to mention response times) quickly got out of hand — my own personal hell’s kitchen overwhelmed with cooks. This is where my sister’s oldest friend, and my new No. 2, emerged, proposing that this disagreeable disarray of groupthink be set aside, and the sole decision-making power be relinquished to me, the maid of honor (or the Chosen One, as I prefer).
With the emotional burden of causing conflict or hurting feelings behind me (or, rather, on someone else’s shoulders), I could focus my energy on what comes naturally for my introverted self — planning. After mining the text thread for any salvageable ideas, my first act was to enlist my groupthink-busting savior’s help. She was by no means an extrovert, but was still far more sociable than I, and she readily agreed to not just be a sounding board for my ideas, but to divide the considerable party-planning labor. She was also able to suggest things that I, being a bachelorette party newbie, would have completely overlooked (like party favors).
With this more limited input, I found the preparation more my speed, and with fewer duties, I found I could ward off much of the “decision fatigue” that can accompany weddings, parties, and positions of power alike.
2. Lean on your introvert strengths, like doing research and planning.
Introverts often excel at independent, deep-research-based tasks. Given only a predetermined weekend and a guest list, I set out to plan a fully enjoyable 40-hour-straight party the only way I knew how: spreadsheet style. My No. 2 and I utilized Google Docs to brainstorm lists of potential activities, venues, restaurants, decorations, and lodging. All the while, we maintained budget spreadsheets, marked maps for driving times to various locations, and mocked up outlines and schedules for each day.
Being that I am spontaneity-averse at heart, as we pared down our abundant ideas into what we could manage within our timeframe, I kept a list of dining and venue backups in the unlikely event any of our intricately planned activities fell through. We even planned ahead for the bride-to-be to have an evening where she could choose what she wanted to do, depending on her energy level halfway through the weekend — so long as she chose from our pre-planned, social-but-not-too-social activity packages.
Having the addresses of each venue, driving times and routes between activities, and plenty of time-filling backup plans set in stone greatly alleviated my worry-prone mind, especially when it came to questions like: What if the guests, not all of whom know each other, don’t get along? What if people aren’t having a good time? What if there are awkward silences?
Ironically, the one thing I failed to account for was the amount of time other people would be happy to spend just talking to each other. We ended up with a surplus of unused games simply because of the perfectly pleasant hours spent in this sort of unstructured chat time. (I mean, I’m not complaining about the extra s’mores rations I got to take home, but who would have thought? Not I, clearly.) Point being, supported by my personal echelon of organized research and preparation, I at least had the space in my introvert brain to address any of those less controllable issues (should they have arisen).
3. Keep your audience in mind, yet stay true to yourself.
Introverts may not be party animals, but we are fully capable of having fun in social settings. Throughout the planning process, I found it helpful to remind myself that my sister chose me to be in charge, not any of her equally close (but decidedly more extroverted) friends — and that choice in and of itself said something about the “party” she wanted to have. Now, I couldn’t just plan 40 hours of book reading or journaling, but I could choose activities that would appeal to a wider swath of personalities, focusing on those that both my sister and I would enjoy.
For a theme, I based our weekend plans on three of our favorite TV series. Our weekend started with a multi-ethnic buffet and movie night, à la Gilmore Girls. We spent the next day in a The Office-themed escape room and a Parks and Recreation-inspired kayak adventure, followed by our “bachelorette’s choice” evening at a local restaurant. We had also planned for plenty of downtime within our AirBnB house, which we’d decorated with a banner and deflated balloons reminiscent of Kelly Kapoor’s birthday party, and we placed Ann Perkins compliments on every pillow.
Activities like these not only avoided crowds while still promoting sociability, but also allowed for our group of eight to split into even smaller groups if anyone felt so inclined. I like to think that the weekend struck a balance that both the extroverts and the introverts among us could (and did) enjoy, including some introverted plays on conventional bachelorette party games (like who could design a crêpe that looked most like a… well, you know).
I aspired to engineer more than a fun weekend with estranged friends, however — I wanted a “wow” factor, my own version of that classic “brush with danger that forever bonds us” event. So after the party disbanded, but before my sister needed to head back to the airport, I plotted one final, memorable thrill: ziplining. This activity, though still undertaken in a small group, allowed us to have fun while pushing our boundaries, both by embracing a novel experience and by willingly dangling hundreds of feet above what could have been a beautiful resting place, should anything have gone wrong. (It didn’t.)
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4. Remember to enjoy yourself (i.e., don’t worry if not everything goes according to plan).
With any hosting responsibilities, it can be easy to get so caught up in making sure others have a good time that you forget to have one yourself. After the initial introductions, there was one moment in particular I recall retreating into my overthinking worrier/planner side, instead of trying to relax into participant mode. That moment came as we approached the kayak rental place, only to find out the final stretch of the road was closed due to flooding, and we would have to walk the last mile to the lake’s shore.
Panicked that my pre-booked rental period was in jeopardy, I jogged ahead so as to get the kayaks out of their lockers, and hurriedly dialed the rental company to see if we could get an extension (given the unforeseen circumstances). As it turned out, though, this was just another case of my proactivity causing its own problems, as the party-goers were fully satisfied paddling and/or floating around with 10 minutes’ less time and didn’t complain in the slightest about the unplanned walk.
For the most part, I surprised myself at how comfortable I felt during the party, especially the “hanging out with new people and others I hadn’t seen since high school” part. I was pleased to find my sister’s friends easy to interact with and fully accepting of one another — so much so, that as incredible as it sounds, I did not even suffer from an introvert hangover at the end of the weekend (or any other hangover, thank you very much). What’s more, I came out of the experience with a new friend in my No. 2, the awareness of quite a lot of “things to do” in and around my city (though whether I ever act on that knowledge is another story), and bragging rights over my now-brother-in-law’s inferior bachelor party.
It may have been different, at least at the outset, if I were just another attendee — having to adapt to each new event as it arose — or if my sister had wanted a much longer guest list. But as it was, I discovered I could plan the party, and enjoy it, too. And so can you, no matter what type of “extroverted” event you may have to organize.