All partied out.

Congrats to the winner of our Science Centre Tickets – Veronica! Thanks to everyone for entering, sharing, and reading! And Happy Thanksgivingukkah!

29Nov2013

The CRUNCH:
All partied out.

CRUNCH deets:
Tis the season to be jolly. And to rock around the Christmas tree. And to do the Chanukah Bamba. In other words, it’s time to par-tay. But instead of feeling excited about all that socializing, you’re feeling, well, stressed. It’s not exactly your most wonderful time of the year.

The Fix:
Roll with it.

Fix deets:
Planning, shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping, shoveling, and driving aside, holidays mean one thing: FUN! But for many people, spending night after night with colleagues/friends/family to party it up is just. too. much. And it’s even more complicated if one half of a duo loves a crowd à la Carrie Bradshaw, but the other one wants to park it in front of the TV Aidan-style. And, later, Big-style. It’d be hard to keep up with Carrie Bradshaw.

If you’re a couch potato who tends to freeze/shudder/sweat when it’s time to mingle, here’s how to deal:

  • Arrive early. It’s a lot easier to start a conversation with a handful of people than to walk into a crowd and then try to break the ice.
  • Smile… duh. Smiling at people as they walk in the door makes them feel more welcome and they’ll be the ones fumbling for opening lines when they come over to talk to you. And smiling genuinely during a convo puts everyone in a better mood.
  • Listen well. This means making eye contact, NOT interrupting, and paying attention to what they’re saying instead of thinking about if your kids are asleep, how much to pay the babysitter, how early you have to wake up tomorrow, or what to talk about next. Clueing in and responding appropriately means a lot less small talk and a lot more meaningful conversations.
  • Chat it out on your way to the party for an update on important/safe/off-limit topics. This is a good time to review names you should know, so that when you meet your spouse’s boss for the tenth time you’re not tripping over her name or, worse, re-introducing yourself. You’ll also get bonus points if your spouse already filled you in on her recent vacation and her kid’s bad frosh behaviour and you open with “So how was your trip?” instead of “So how’s your son liking University?”
  • Drink smart. A glass or three of liquid courage will help you loosen up. More will help you make a fool of yourself. Probably not what you’re going for.
  • Prep with social media if you wanna go a little hardcore. Having so many online connections means you can pre-select a handful of people you want to get your chit-chat on with and browse through their recent status updates. This is a good way to trigger topics you otherwise might forget to mention and also to learn interesting tidbits you might not even know about. Just be honest and not creepy, as in “I was on facebook earlier and notice you’ve been posting a lot of scenery pictures lately. Is this a new hobby?” Sounds much less stalker-like than “I’d love to see more pictures of your children online.”
  • Check out what’s trending or old-school it with a newspaper pre-party. Always handy to have an entertaining anecdote on the tip of your tongue so you can throw in a little “Did you hear that GoldieBlox changed their video because the Beastie Boys don’t want their song in a commercial?” Who’s the life of the party now?
  • Keep some ice-breakers in your back pocket. Your list can include oldies (“What do you do?”, “Do you have kids?”, “How do you know the host?”) and also goodies (“When you were a kid, what did you want to be?”, “If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?”, “How did you meet your husband?”) Most people love talking about themselves, so inquiring is the easiest way to get the convo-ball rolling. If all else fails, ask about something they’re wearing, as in “Where did you find those beautiful earrings?” Hopefully the response will be exciting (“Spain – on my honeymoon,”) and you can create a meaningful back-and-forth. Even if it’s not (“The mall – on my lunchhour,”) you can segue into something (“Cool. What’d you get for lunch?”) until you hit an interesting topic.
  • Pull the plug on a dud. Conversation is a two-way street and if you’ve tried and tried again and still feel like you’re pulling teeth, vamanose outta that awkwardness. Everyone needs to drink refill/washroom break/call the sitter at some point, and it also makes for an easy escape.
  • Have a secret getaway word. Arriving early means you get to leave early if the party’s a snoozefest. But communicating this to your partner before the soiree is critical! We work a previously agreed-upon code word into the conversation to avoid bizarre eye contact/neck jerks. Ours is blueberry… half the fun of the code word is slipping it in seamlessly!

Remember this:
Everything you do is only as fun as you make it. Even if socializing doesn’t come naturally, you can still have a good time. And practice makes perfect: the more you stick your neck out into unfamiliar territory, the more familiar it’ll become. Just ask the Grinch.

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