Wondering how to plan a party for the introvert in your life?
The short answer is: Don't make it a surprise. Introverts are not big fans of being surprised.A party done right can be a great gift for an introvert who would be especially unlikely to throw their own because they’ve been turned off by past traumas of piñata scrambles, forced karaoke, and the awkward 15-second during which a huge crowd is singing "Happy Birthday" at you. Let’s get some definitions out of the way.When I talk about a party, I mean any social gathering with three or more people. (If an social gathering has two people, I call it a date. Work dates, running dates, champagne dates… Affixing "date" to anything instantly makes it sound more fun (in my somewhat-extroverted opinion, anyway).When I say introverts, I am talking about people who find too much social stimulation draining. Introverts need a certain amount of quiet alone time to recharge their batteries. Introverts brains are wired to be highly sensitive to external stimulation which means their senses are easily overwhelmed by too much. In contrast, extroverts have a lower base cortical arousal level so need interaction with people and external stimulation - like music, light, and color - to feel energized. Your friend who frequents Taylor Swift and Beyonce arena concerts probably errs toward extroversion; your friend who couldn’t wait for Adele’s full album to come out so she could listen to it in the privacy of her own home. Without further ado, here is your...
Party Planning Checklist: Introvert Edition
Ask Your Friend if you can organize a gathering in his or her honor. And remember to listen carefully to the response. You want to include your friend in the important steps of the planning so he/she can become comfortable with the idea.
Listen Carefully. If your friend seems very reluctant about this party business, consider alternatives like a show, a reading date, or a hike.
Start Planning Early. Give your friend plenty of time to deliberate on the plans. No one likes to be rushed into decisions, but introverts find it especially vexing.
Put the Plan on Paper and share the written plan with your friend. The best ideas and deliberation often come from solo contemplation. Giving your friend an opportunity to read, mull over, and revise the party plan could yield a more personal and pleasant event.
Guest List. Work with your friend to develop a thoughtful guest list. Remember that a small and intimate gathering may be preferable. Also, remember how flexible our definition of party is… Standing supper clubs, book groups, or rock climbing crews can all be turned into “parties” with some minor tweaks to honor your favorite introvert.
Invitations. Make sure to invite the guests! My roommate and I once had an elaborate holiday party, complete with a hot chocolate bar, kir royales, and Christmas tree decorating crafts but forgot to invite anyone. This sort of mishap would mortify the introvert in your life.
Venue. Pick a place that is quiet enough for meaningful conversation. Make sure there are places to sit down to facilitate comfortable interactions.
Ambience. Low lighting may be most comfortable for an introvert.
Food and Drinks. Gotta remember the basics.
Entertainment. Remember that meaningful conversation is one of the best forms of entertainment for an introvert. If you make a playlist, take requests from the guest of honor on the type of music and keep the volume relatively low.
Play Host. Your introverted friend may feel uncomfortable managing the party or introducing guests to each other. Taking care of helping all of the party guests feel comfortable is one of the key things you can do to create a lovely event.
Activity. An activity can help strike a good balance between what makes the introvert honoree feel comfortable and what keeps the more extroverted guests entertained. However, make activities like dancing, karaoke, and games completely optional so the introverted honoree can comfortably opt-out. As the host, you may need to regulate a bit to make sure peer pressure doesn’t turn a fun evening into an uncomfortable one.
Toasts. If you are going to do formal toasts, warn the guest of honor in advance so they can think about their reaction. Keeping toasts short and sweet will make them memorable and limit your friend’s time in the spotlight.
Gifts. If there are gifts involved in this party, don't make the gift opening public, as your friend may prefer not the be the center of attention for long periods of time.
A Little Something Unexpected. While the party itself should not be a surprise, having a little surprise element built into the party will delight the guests and likely be appreciated by your friend. Examples include a special menu, thoughtful notes, gift bags, or a signature soundtrack (the modern mixtape).
Endings Matter. It is best to cut activities at their peak to ensure people have positive memories and want to do them again in the future. Setting an end time for your party is especially important for introverts. It creates an opportunity for the guest of honor to graciously depart, take a break from social engagement, and let the memories of the party sink in.
Remember, it can be hard to tell whether someone is an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert. If you don't know where your friend falls on the introvert-extrovert spectrum, ask! Here are some personality quizzes to help.
Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? The Quiet Revolution Personality Test (founded by Susan Cain and Paul Scibetta)
Are You More of an Introvert of Extrovert? Buzz Feed
Assessment Dan Pink
I’d love to hear from you. Where do you fall on the introversion-extroversion scale? What does this mean for your party preferences?