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Whether you see yourself as the ultimate social butterfly or a retiring introvert who’d rather be home watching a favorite movie with your cat, I have some favorite tips and tricks that can make almost any holiday gathering a lot more pleasant and memorable for you — and for those with whom you interact.

  1. Create your vision for success. Ask yourself what would make this experience a “win” for you? (Sorry! Hoping the event is cancelled doesn’t count!) For example, is it a surprisingly enjoyable and interesting experience?  Do you get to spend time with favorite colleagues, friends, or family members? Do have the pleasure of meeting someone new and fascinating? Is the food excellent?  You get to decide what success looks, sounds, and feels like for you. And then you plan on experiencing it.  Simply put, seek and you shall find!
  2. Set your intentions. What do you intend to do to make your vision a reality?  Do you intend…. To get plenty of rest beforehand?  To show up in a favorite outfit that makes you feel great? To be proactive about introducing yourself and getting conversations started? To walk away from conversations that aren’t interesting? To avoid food or drink that you know doesn’t agree with you?
  3. Identify some easily achievable goals. You might decide that you will meet at least 3 new people. Or you’ll learn something new and interesting about a person you thought you knew really well. Or you’ll stay for at least an hour and then decide if it’s time to make a gracious exit. Again, you decide!
  4. Show up equipped.  By this, I mean you have some conversation-starting questions ready to go.  (Which means you take the time to come up with these in advance.) You can ask about work or leisure-time interests, where they are from, how they know the host, what their favorite memories are about the Holiday Season, or even a funny holiday movie, book, or story. Think like a journalist in search of a good story.  What fascinates you about people, life, or the world? Ask about these!
  5. Be proactive. Consider that it’s your responsibility to introduce yourself and get conversations going. It’s not the host’s responsibility nor is it anyone else’s duty. (Although if you are the host, it’s a lovely and welcomed gesture.)
  6. Be positive. Holiday gatherings are not the place to have fiery political debates, to hop on a soapbox, or to gripe about health issues or day-to-day struggles. Keep things light and festive, lest you be labeled a cranky old Scrooge. Or the proverbial “turd in the punchbowl.”  (I did not come up with that phrase, but I think it’s hilarious.)
  7. Leave while you’re still having a good time. For me, this is crucial.  I want to look back on the event feeling positive. That way, I’m more likely to have fond memories of the gathering and look forward to the next one.

What about you?  I’d love to hear some of your best tips and tricks for enjoying the Holiday Season and all its festivities.

And if you’re still searching for holiday gifts for loved ones who may need some help in the area of socialization or networking, my books make practical, if not life-changing choices!  BookPeople in Austin has both The Intentional Networker and More Than Just Talk. Or find them on Amazon or through your favorite online book retailer.