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4 Tips to Turn Awkward Holiday Parties into Awesome Holiday Parties

Well, it's that time of year again mingling, jingling, and ugly sweaters. It's been a long time since we’ve had our holiday parties in full swing. And some of us may be a little anxious about all the small talk that must be done.

I am sharing several tips that will help to navigate conversations that can be so awkward at holiday parties.

It’s time to turn awkward into awesome!

1. Know what your goal is for this holiday event.

Sometimes we walk into these events really not knowing what our expectations are. And that can cause confusion for ourselves and others as well. Decide ahead of time what you want to get out of this evening. Do you want to make friends? Or are you interested in making professional connections? How about catching up with old connections? Whatever the case, have it set in your mind what you want to accomplish.

Here are a couple of holiday conversation starters to have in your back pocket to get the night started:

  1. Who is the hardest person on your list to buy a gift for?

  2. Where do you do most of your holiday shopping?

  3. What is one thing that you can do without from 2022 in 2023?

A moment of intentionality can make or break a holiday party. So take a minute to prepare. You may be surprised by how much fun you have and how you can inspire others with your thoughtful interaction.

2. Deal with negativity that can sabotage the holiday event before you even get there.

We've all been there. We've sabotaged the night even before we walked in the door. We've told ourselves this is going to be a rotten event. We may even say things like this…

  1. ‘I hate small talk’

  2. ‘This is a waste of time’

  3. ‘No one wants to talk to me’

  4. ‘I’m boring’

  5. ‘I’m being dragged here against my will’ (A bit dramatic)

With self-talk like that, no doubt the party will be a disaster.

It's part of being human. There will always be things that we do for the ones we care about including going to parties when we'd rather not. To make the most of your evening say this to yourself instead:

  1. I will make one friend tonight

  2. I will try to learn something new

  3. I will look for someone to befriend that looks uncomfortable

Believe it or not, the night will turn out delightful, even if you end up sitting next to the least social person at the office.

3. Show up to learn something, not sell something

Let me be honest, when I’m talking with someone new, I often get very excited when I find something that we have in common. While this may be good, it can also get me into trouble. I get so excited to find common ground with this person, I often don’t let them finish their sentence.

The tip I am sharing sometimes can be a challenge for me. Tip #2 is to be intentional. I need to show up willing to listen to learn and not so quick to speak or be the expert on something. In following my advice, I/we can make a lot more connections and friends by being willing to listen after asking a question.

4. Position yourself to enjoy the night

We can be prepped for all the right conversations but if we don't look approachable it won't matter. We will never get the chance to use them. So as you walk into the party consider how you present yourself. Here are three tips to look approachable:

  1. Give good eye contact. This shows that you are engaged with the person talking.

  2. Refrain from crossing your arms. Crossed arms show that you are not available or are unhappy to be at the party.

  3. Tilt your head while listening. It lets others know you are interested.

  4. Keep your palms open to show you are open to connecting.

These few tips will give you an edge in building rapport even when you are flying solo at a party.

Want to learn more about how to turn awkward conversations into meaningful conversations? Follow me on Instagram at @rowlandltc.


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