6 Helpful Tips for Surviving a Party

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photographs an apple cider pressing party.My best friend’s annual cider party was taking place on Sunday afternoon. All week she’d been cooking and preparing for it. There would be five fabulous Finger Lakes Feasting soups. There would be cheeses, homemade cookies, and lots of apples to hand- press into cider. This was an event my children and I always looked forward to each October. Indeed, my grown son would be showing up for it this year. So a part of me really wanted to be there.

But I hate parties. I’m not good at small talk. Going alone to a party takes more courage than I can usually muster. And I never know who or what I’ll meet up with that could trigger an unattractive emotional meltdown. A thousand reasons have stopped me from attending joyous events in the past. I’ll go for a short while, just to make an appearance, I told myself this time.

So here are my 6 tips for how to survive a party when you’re alone, shy, grieving, or simply a perpetual party pooper:

  1. Pretend you’re the maid. If you can’t be sociable, be helpful. Serve food or wash dishes. A really brilliant idea is to bring something that needs to be cut up or prepared, so you can be there busy, with a purpose.
  2. Hang out by the food and reward yourself for showing up. Since it may be the last party you ever go to, you might as well enjoy the fixings.
  3. Walk around pretending you’re looking for someone. Find another shy, solo guest and ask if he’s got any pets.
  4. Take the resident dog for a walk around the block.
  5. Check the messages on your cellphone and then, in a not-too-inconspicuous corner, in a posture that conveys cool indifference to the surrounding scene, make your weekly call to your mother.
  6. Pretend you’ve been hired to take photographs.

At the party on Sunday, by the time I did everything on this list, I’d overeaten, used up the battery on my camera, and hit my head on the cider press in the process of being helpful. But I ended up staying for the after-party, which is really the best part of any party anyway, when only the family and closest friends sit back with full bellies around a campfire, gaze at the stars, and tell stories about animal encounters and food.


Got any other ideas? Please share.

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12 thoughts on “6 Helpful Tips for Surviving a Party

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    So great, Robin. With my hearing issues, I feel miserable at parties, but somehow when I get home, I remember something interesting or feel connected to someone. That’s why I go. For those little moments of heart connection.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I agree, Elaine. It’s all about the little connections with people. If it weren’t for those inner hugs of the heart, I probably would stay home. Cheers!

  2. Joann Giovannone (Jo)

    Robin, I feel/understand how you feel about going to social parties, putting on a happy face even when you don’t want to. It’s hard! So can life be, but we already know that, and I still think you should congratulate yourself that you found the courage to go to this annual event and even stayed long enough to enjoy the “after party”. (Me, I may have timed my entrance to coincide with the beginning of the “after party” 🙂 After having met you, I find it difficult to believe you’re not very sociable. I found you to be a warm, wise, creative & caring person! I think you should pat yourself on the back 🙂 Jo

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Thanks, Jo. It was so much easier for me to be sociable at the retreat. I felt like I “knew” everyone there and that, in one sense, they “knew” me. Some of the parties and places I kick myself to go to are attended by women and men (men!), by people in their 20s and 30s (OMG), by those versed in politics (?), loud folks, drinking folks, strangers, people with perfect teeth (yeesh!). It’s so much harder to go to and stay at these events. But often worth a big pat on the back afterwards. Thanks for responding – this reminds me that I wanted to try Mike Huber again. Cheers!

  3. Lynne Taetzsch

    All your ideas are good ones, Robin, but at this point in my life, I’ve given myself permission to NOT GO TO PARTIES!
    We don’t all have to be able to do everything. 😉


    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Oh. Yes! I forgot, or maybe I still haven’t learned that it IS possible to simply say, “No more, thanks.” Sometimes we’re so hard on ourselves we forget that we can “pass” on some things. This is another lesson I need to practice: Give self permission to say “No.” Thanks, Lynne. Please remind me again when it looks like I’m cross-eyed, gasping for breath, and shearing my fingernails trying to hold onto my seat.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I, too, am happier when I can give you something upbeat to read. Sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes, what I want to write about is difficult or dark. Long live cider, and chocolate, and sunshine, and all the bright things that hopefully will always outnumber the sad. Cheers, Annette!


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