You don’t have to be a wallflower just because you don’t know many guests at a party. Remember, you were invited because your friend thinks you’re a fun person, so put yourself out there!
Start by asking your hostess in advance if there’s anyone she thinks you should meet, and then ask her to introduce you when that person arrives. Alternatively, if you see a group you’d like to join, look for people who are turned slightly toward the room rather than each other; their body language says they’re open to newcomers. Then wait for a pause in the conversation and introduce yourself by first and last name.
Keep the small talk light. Ask others’ opinions first (“What do you think of all this snow?”) rather than jumping in with your own thoughts. If someone brings up a sticky subject like politics, say pleasantly, “I can understand why you feel that way, but I’d rather not talk about it,” and change the subject to something safer. Keep in mind that it’s impolite to leave a conversation abruptly. So when you’re ready to meet other guests, tell the other person, “It was so nice to meet you. I look forward to seeing you again.” If you seem to be clicking as friends, suggest getting together another time.
Some other good party etiquette rules to follow: Arrive within 20 minutes of the start time, and don’t be the last to leave. Bring a hostess gift, but not flowers (the host will have to scramble for a vase) or food (unless it’s a potluck). Don’t eat while you’re socializing, and stick to one drink for the night rather than indulging. (At business functions, don’t drink at all.) The great thing about holiday parties is that people are in a good mood to begin with. If you go into one with a positive attitude -- “I want to meet potential friends tonight” -- you’ll be the kind of person others want to be around!
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