There are three situations around parties that people often struggle with at Christmas – feeling too anxious to go when they really want to go; saying ‘no’ when they don’t want to go; and staying at parties when they really want to leave.

Feeling too anxious to go when you really want to go

The trick is not to get stuck in ‘all or nothing’ thinking.  Typically people think that they have to be the life and soul of the party or stay at home.  In reality there’s a lot of space between those two extremes for you to find a point where you’re comfortable.

You can make bargains with yourself as well – “If I’m still not enjoying it by eight o’clock then I’ll leave”.  In most events you’ll stay past eight o’clock, and on the odd occasions you don’t you’ve still got the positive of having faced your anxiety and gone to the party.

Saying ‘no’ when you don’t want to go

If you’re turning down an invitation try to use the “no” sandwich. Give a reason why it sounds as if it will be nice, a genuine reason as to why it’s a “no”, and then something else positive.  For instance “It sounds a lot of fun, but we won’t be able to come I’m afraid – it’s a shame because you’re such a lovely host”.

But don’t feel pressured into having to give an immediate yes or no when you’re asked.  It’s fine to take your time.  The key again is to mention something positive about the invitation when you say that you’ll have to think about it.  And as ever the golden rule is never to lie– when you’re found out it always looks much worse than that polite no ever would.

Staying at parties when you really want to leave

Use the opposite of the “no” sandwich – so tell them no, mention something positive about the party, and then tell them no again. For instance – “We must go as we’re really tired. We’ve had a brilliant evening but we’ve got to go as we’ve got a really long day tomorrow”.

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