Tailor your event — and unapologetically own your needs — to increase the odds of you, and everyone else, having a great time.
At my seventh birthday party, 10 of my little friends crowded around me while I opened presents. My face got hot as they “helped” me peel back the wrapping paper and yanked my gifts from my hands. Upset and overwhelmed, I grabbed as many presents my little arms could hold and stormed upstairs, locking myself in my room until everyone left.
Decades later, it didn’t surprise me to discover that I’m an introvert (and an “extroverted introvert” at that). Learning this fact about myself turned out to be super helpful, as I also discovered that having my own kids often meant planning and hosting birthday parties… and (ugh) playdates, despite my best efforts of avoiding them for as long as possible.
My oldest daughter is an extrovert who invites everyone she knows to her birthday parties (including people she meets in the check-out line at Target), and I find myself sending out the invites.
Learning to Host a Party as an Introvert… And Actually Enjoying It
Attending events and parties is hard enough as an introvert, so even the thought of hosting (and being the center of attention) can make us sweat months in advance. With all the logistics, decisions, organizing, small talk, mood-managing, and noise… why bother?
Because we have a right to share, celebrate, and enjoy ourselves (or loved ones) just as much as anyone else, especially in our own unique way.
With the help and support of a therapist, I’ve figured out how to host a party without taxing my system or draining my batteries too much. Through trial and error, I’ve learned how to manage events that honor my introverted self. I preserve my sanity, I have a good time, and I even find myself willing to do it again. (But, like, not for a while. Calm down, extroverts!)
Here are a few things I’ve done that help me to (actually) enjoy hosting a party as an introvert.
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7 Ways to Host a Party as an Introvert
1. Enlist a party partner — either a professional or a friend.
Deciding to host an event is taking on the responsibility of creating, and directing, a social situation. Yes, you will have to lightly socialize and engage in small talk. But a party partner can help alleviate some of that responsibility and pressure. Ask an extroverted friend or family member for help. Or, if it’s in the budget, hire a party planner.
Be specific and let your party partner know what areas you’d like assistance with: food, grocery shopping, answering the door/email/phone calls, small talk, carrying a dinner table conversation, making sure everyone is welcome and knows where the bathroom/food is, etc. Your battery might drain more quickly than expected — it happens, and it’s totally normal (more on this below). So planning ahead will still allow you to have a good time (or at least end the party without any social hiccups).
2. Only invite people who know you’re an introvert.
This is especially helpful if you are new to hosting. It’s difficult to exclude people, but I’ve found that the more comfortable I am with the attendees, the more fun I have, which leads me to want to host more parties. I can be myself. I can take breaks. I can leave if I want to and no one will take it personally or worry. That is ideal.
However, if that isn’t an option (i.e., kids’ birthday parties, work events, extended family, and friends), feel free to explain yourself and your specific, introverted tendencies — and needs — at the start of the event: “Just a heads-up, I’m an introvert, and group things drain me pretty quickly, so don’t be alarmed if I disappear or end the party early.”
Extroverts and strangers might not understand this, but at least you did your part as host to let them know what to expect of you.
Another equally acceptable option is to not even bother explaining yourself (some just will never understand) and with that same unapologetic shrug say: “Just a heads-up, the party needs to end at 9 p.m. sharp.”
Either way, you’ve still done your part as host to set boundaries and everyone’s expectations; it’s up to your guests how they want to feel (or deal) with it.
3. Host the party anywhere but your own home.
Consider hosting your party at someone else’s house (thanks, Grandma!), a restaurant, a hall, a park, or a local kids’ party venue. Avoid that uncomfortable feeling of strangers in your home or people intruding into your sanctuary. This also helps make ending the event easier, as a lot of these places have hard-stop end times.
4. Pre-party, charge your introvert battery.
This is a must for me. Finish your party-prep two days beforehand, if possible, then spend the day before the party relaxing… alone. It takes a bit of extra planning — and may even require a day off work — but this space can provide the right amount of balance an introvert needs to have a good time. Think of it like packing for vacation and anticipating what you might need to enjoy your trip.
Do not go out and socialize the day or night before. Spend the day before your party alone. Exercise, drink water, and go to bed early. Get a pedicure, go for a walk, read a book, bake a cake, or do whatever it takes to help your system slow down and prepare in its own way.
I’ve found this practice protects my inner peace, helps me be excited and show up for a longer period of time, and actually enables me to have a great time during the event.
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5. Take time-outs (yes, during the party).
This one took me a while to give myself permission to do, especially if I don’t have a party partner. When I find myself feeling numb, zoning out, overthinking, or just getting overwhelmed, I take a 15-minute break and hide out. (Seven-year-old me had great instincts.) A few minutes of fresh air, quiet, or zero socializing can be the perfect battery recharge to get you through the rest of the party — and even enjoy it.
A few great places to sneak away are bathrooms, outdoor sidewalks, gardens or patios, or a car. No one tends to ask much if you aren’t gone too long, and if you don’t feel like explaining your introversion, you can blame your stomach or a phone call (if you aren’t comfortable lying, you can actually call a loved one or text someone if it helps).
I often take a “smoke break” outside, even though I don’t smoke, by letting someone (a party partner) know I need some air. This might go without saying, but stay away from any closets or bedrooms that aren’t your own. Taking cover in one is just too awkward to explain and can make things worse.
If you find yourself in a more extreme situation and need a longer break, go on an ice run (be sure to let your party partner know). Every party always needs ice! In every episode of the show Hell’s Kitchen, Gordon Ramsey berates a frazzled chef, then sends them out of the kitchen for a break to get their head right. As you can imagine, they come back and finish the dinner service in better spirits.
Taking a break is totally acceptable. However, keep in mind that leaving your own party for 30 minutes or more might cause tension and a reason for people to worry. Regardless, please do what you have to do to take care of yourself.
6. Have an end time in mind, and prepare a phrase to let guests know the party will be over soon.
Stick to a start and stop time. “Whenever it ends, it ends!” Or “6 p.m. until ?” is often not manageable for an introvert, especially if one is new to hosting an event. In the invite cards/texts/emails/conversations, be very clear about how long the party will last.
If it is a success, people might linger. Expect the lingering, and don’t feel pressure to keep the party going after the allotted time. It will quickly drain you, become less fun for you, and leave you not wanting to do it again. Honor the decision you made when you were in a better state of mind.
You can also pick a phrase beforehand that you feel comfortable saying out loud to friends near the end of the event, and start using it liberally 15 minutes in advance. It’s a bit difficult for us introverts to figure out what exactly to say in the moment, especially when we are already drained. But you have all the rights and permission to let people know they need to leave.
Try phrases like: “This was really fun; I’m so glad you all came and I’m looking forward to doing it again sometime. I hope you all get home safely.” Or: “Can I pack up some food for you to take home? I have to call it a night.” If someone whines or asks why you need to “call it a night,” feel free to give a reason… or not. Your choice. “I just have to, but we’ll do this again sometime,” is a perfectly reasonable answer.
You could also pass out parting gifts or favors that let people know the night is over. Using these time-honored, social cues from weddings and kids’ parties — in conjunction with your goodbye phrases — can send a clear parting message.
7. Post-party, recharge your battery so you don’t get an introvert hangover.
Make sure you are making space for yourself on both sides of the event. Some introverts find they actually have a little boost of energy after a successful party. Others need a day of quiet and rest to recuperate. Try scheduling your event for a Saturday night, so you can sandwich your social battery charges on Friday (see #4) and then again on Sunday. This way, you can also prevent the dreaded introvert hangover.
Then, spend Sunday rewarding yourself with things you love, especially if they include your favorite introverted activities and hobbies, like reading, listening to music, or going for a long drive. This will teach your system that events and parties might not be so bad after all.
All in All, Tailor the Party to You and Your Needs
Tailoring your event — and unapologetically owning your particular style and needs — will increase the odds of you, and everyone else, having a great time. Your guests will see that you are comfortable, which, in turn, will make them comfortable.
As introverts, we deserve to have as much fun as everyone else, in whatever way we want, and in whatever way works for us! As my 10-year-old says, “If someone doesn’t like my party, oh well… they don’t have to come.”
You might like:
- Yes, Introverts Can Like Parties… but With Certain Caveats
- How to Master a Party as an Introvert
- Why Is Socializing Exhausting for Introverts? Here’s the Science
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