Pick your battles.
At this time of year, there are no end of parties to choose from but, if you’re not quite the social butterfly, it can start to feel more like one obligation after another. Don’t climb back into your cocoon yet though; just because you’ve been invited to every shindig in town, doesn’t mean you have to run every gauntlet. Spreading yourself thinner than a January pay-packet is a sure-fire way to push anxiety’s buttons and run yourself into the ground. Decide which dos are don’ts and make your excuses; spend your time only at the events you really want to – or need to – attend. You can catch up with everyone else once the decorations are down.
Find a survival buddy.
You might not think so, but no matter how confident they all look, there’s always someone else in your circle who’s finding the party spirit just as haunting as you are, and will welcome your kindred companionship. Find them and you’ll find it’s not quite so easy to have a bad time in good company. Even if it’s not quite halved, a problem shared is at least a problem that can be bonded over. Besides, it can actually be quite fun comparing places you’d rather be than on the dance floor doing The Slosh with your boss wearing an Elf costume.
Not my circus, not my monkeys.
Christmas nights out can be a hotbed of gossip and drama, but you can stay cool by avoiding the sparks altogether. Being sucked into other people’s party crises is always the quickest way to fill my busy head with worry and what-ifs so I’ve found that, if it doesn’t concern me, it’s best for me not to be concerned. If you can improve the situation, do that; otherwise, leave well alone. That way, you won’t have to worry about facing the aftermath on Monday morning.
Make your own entrance.
If you’re anything like me, it’s the take-off and landing of any social event that causes you the most stress so manage these depending on the situation. Invite a few folk to start the night early so you don’t have to arrive without back-up. But if you are heading along on your own, turn up a little late; that way you know there will definitely be people there that you know already – and you can sneak in once everyone is already merry.
Dress for yourself, not the occasion.
The pressure to dress up for the party season is weighty but you don’t have to bow to it completely. If the nines make you uncomfortable, dress to the sevens instead; you’ll find it easier to enjoy the festivities if you don’t have to constantly fiddle with a wayward strap or manage a six-inch heel. This is the one time of year that black tie can be musical so sling on a jaunty jumper over your usual attire, and at least the pressure on your waistline will be lifted for the night.
Give yourself the gift of kindness.
Remember, it’s the season of goodwill – and you’re not excluded from its remit. Celebrate how you want to, not how you think you’re expected to. Skip drinks and just go for the dinner, steer clear of the office loud-mouth, dance or don’t dance: it’s your night as much as everyone else’s and the only way to enjoy it is to allow yourself to. And if you’re not having fun, leave. You don’t owe anyone your company so only lend them it for as long as you like.