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The introvert’s guide to hosting this festive season

There is joy in bringing people together. The real thing to guard against is the feeling of being overwhelmed, exhausted or overstimulated

If you are an introvert, the thing to do is to be a little selfish and tailor the event to your own needs.(iStockphoto)

By Shalini Umachandran

LAST PUBLISHED 27.10.2023  |  01:00 PM IST

Don’t cancel.

There’s just one rule to follow if an introvert, for some unknowable reason, has chosen to host a house party.

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One of the paradoxes of being an introvert is that you could look forward to the party while also being deeply aware that at any moment during the evening, you could just switch off and want to escape. There’s research to suggest that socialising is good for anyone’s mood, including introverts’, but surely that feeling of anxiety that accompanies it would only take years off one’s life? Fortunately, there’s also research to tell you that it’s the quality and not the quantity of relationships that helps you live longer and happier.

Playing host is fun, and introverts aren’t anti-social. There is joy in bringing people together, being the catalyst for fun and conversation, and just spending time with people you like. And contrary to all the advice on self-help Instagram handles out there, you don’t need to declare to the world that you are an introvert who might need “downtime". The real thing to guard against is the feeling of being overwhelmed, exhausted or overstimulated that comes with too much socialising. As Susan Cain reiterates in her book, Quiet, tolerance for stimulation is one of the biggest differences between introverts and extroverts. Extroverts can put up with more of it, introverts less. So, if you are an introvert, the thing to do is to be a little selfish and tailor the event to your own needs.

Also Read: Making some noise about introverts

Start by inviting people you are comfortable with—keeping it small is something even your guests will appreciate. Ask friends to help you with the nitty-gritty of planning: Maybe one friend can curate the playlists, another can help whittle down the list of places to order from to just three. Malika Noor Mehta, a Mumbai-based psychotherapist and Lounge columnist , says she finds co-hosting with a friend or a partner a good way to share social responsibilities without feeling swamped. “We get so caught up trying to host that we forget that we need to enjoy ourselves as well," she says.

Order in food you will enjoy, apart from the kinds of exotica your guests might want. So, if idli is your comfort food, go ahead and put it on the menu, but maybe a little creatively—and this was something an introvert friend did—by making them in shaped moulds, instead of just round, and adding a little natural food colour to jazz it up. Build some music you really, really like into the playlist, apart from the popular hits everyone else wants to hear. Delegate tasks, like bartending or serving snacks, to friends so you don’t have to be front and centre all the time. It gives you the time for more meaningful moments with people that both you and your guests will value.

Essentially, stack the odds in favour of yourself having a good time. Close one part of the house to guests, even if it’s just a bathroom or a balcony, so you can retreat for 5-10 minutes if you sense you are getting overwhelmed. Maybe keep some chocolate there to fortify yourself. Mehta suggests setting a timer on your phone to “check in on yourself and ask ‘am I depleted?’, ‘what do I need?’ at regular intervals". The answer could be a refresh of make-up,a bite of food, or anything else to get your energy back.

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Finish all prep a day or two in advance, so there’s nothing to cause any anxiety on the day of the party, and give yourself time to recharge your social battery. As the hour of the party nears, set aside some time for yourself and just take a nap, get a pedicure, read a book, or scroll on your phone.

And, oh yes, don’t cancel.

Also Read: How to raise an introverted child