easily-overwhelmedRecently, I traveled to the other side of the country to visit family and friends. While there, I found myself at a big family party. It had been so long since I’d been in that situation! It reminded me how hours-long parties can wear on me, no matter how much I like the people in attendance.

At big family parties, there may be loud people, music, dancing, cooking, singing, and talking, of course. And people might drink a bit too much and act a little wild and unpredictable.

My tips on how to deal with long parties:


These tips are mainly for when you feel tapped out on the small talk and easily overwhelmed by people. And yes, these tips are more geared toward introverts than extroverts.

    • Find an empty room. Depending on where you are (and how comfortable you are in this person’s house) there may be an empty room you can duck into for a few minutes. Please remember this: no one will notice if you are gone for a while. People aren’t watching you as closely as you might think. Take a break in a quiet area and don’t feel weird about it!
    • Participate in activities.
      • Consider participating in activities that are going on–like card games, video games, flag football, etc. You don’t have to worry so much about small talk since you’re just playing the game.
      • Or, watch others doing an activity. If you don’t want to/can’t participate, just pop in and watch what’s going on and act interested. This gives you a break from having to talk directly to others.
      • Or, bring a game to the party. I enjoy board games and party games, so by bringing a game with me, I’m guaranteeing that there will be one activity I enjoy. You don’t have to worry about making small talk when you’re in the middle of playing a game!
    • Find some work do to. Does someone need helping preparing food? Setting the table? Cleaning up? No one will bother you if you are busy peeling potatoes. Volunteer to do the beer run.
    • Play with the pets. I was once at a party where I didn’t know many people. I felt worn out with trying to make small talk, so I played with the dog for a while. Playing with animals can be fun, and gives you a break from having to talk for a minute. Even better, do the host a favor by offering to take the dog for a walk.
    • Find another quiet person and chat with them. The conversation will probably flow more easily and you’ll have a shared, unspoken understanding of feeling uncomfortable at this party. 🙂
    • Don’t carpool. Have your own ride so you can leave when you want. Being trapped at a party because you drove with someone else is the worst! (I wrote a post about it here.Of course, you could use a ride-sharing service, too. Along the same lines, get your own hotel room rather than staying with a friend/family member.
    • Consider arriving to the party early, when it’s quieter. (However, this means you’ll probably want to leave earlier.)
    • Use this trick of small talk: ask people about themselves. Since you are an observant person, listen to what they say and be curious about it. This will keep the conversation going.
    • Don’t feel bad about leaving early. I used to feel self-conscious about this but now I don’t care. Other people likely won’t care, either.

What if there are people at the party you don’t like?


What about those family members/acquaintances you dislike, who ask inappropriate questions, are passive aggressive, or have belittled you in the past? The person who is way too drunk? How do you deal with these awkward situations?

This isn’t as easy. I’d love to hear your tips, but here are some of mine:

  • Physically avoid the person. Self-explanatory: just stay away from them.
  • Use an excuse to get away.
    • Offer them a drink. When stuck in a long conversation with someone you want to escape, notice that their glass is empty and helpfully offer to refill it. This will break up your conversation and make it easier to leave when you get back.
    • Or, suddenly notice that your own drink is empty and say you need to go get a refill.
    • Or, say you really need to use the bathroom.
  • Don’t take their comments personally. If you see the undesirable person coming for you, expect that they are going to annoy you (as they always do). Try to face it with a smile. Acknowledge how this person makes you feel and tell yourself that you are better than this drama! See the podcast episode about dealing with criticism.
  • Tell yourself that you aren’t alone. Other people probably feel belittled/offended/annoyed by this person, too. Knowing that you are not alone may help you deal with this person without getting too riled up.
  • This will sound corny, but think of the good things. Look around you and be grateful for the good times, the people you love, and how you are fortunate to have family and friends around you, even if they sometimes drive you mad.
  • Fake it ‘til you make it. Act confident, even if you don’t feel that way.

Are you easily overwhelmed by big parties? How do you cope? Leave a comment below!

photo credit: skohlmann via flickr