How to be the life of the party
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Best Guest1 of 11
By Julie Fishman
While some people may be natural schmoozers, most of us require a little encouragement if we're going to mix and mingle with the best of them. To help boost your party-going confidence, Kathy Bertone, author of The Art of the Visit, shares her best guest tips.
Give Back2 of 11
Never arrive at a bash empty-handed—even if the host is a relative. Bringing a gift shows generosity and thoughtfulness, two attributes other guests will note. Not sure what to get? "Try a moderately priced bottle of wine or a coffee table book about one of your host's interests," suggests Bertone. A bouquet of lilies may seem like a good idea, but only bring flowers if they're in a vase and ready to put down—you don't want to create more work for the host.
Two's Company3 of 11
If an invite doesn't specify whether guests can bring a plus-one, and you can't bear going solo, ask your host several days in advance if it's OK to bring a partner or pal, suggests Bertone. Showing up with a plus-one when you haven't gotten the go-ahead will make everyone uncomfortable.
Bright and Early4 of 11
Forget being fashionably late. Show up on time and it'll be easier to make friends before the party gets crowded. Once you've connected with a few other guests in the beginning of the night, they'll be more likely to come looking for you once the place gets packed, says Bertone. Stand out by wearing a bright solid and try to stay around the middle of the room: If you look like the center of attention people will naturally gravitate toward you.
Stand Out5 of 11
Simply adjusting the way you stand can transform you from wallflower to social butterfly. Leave your arms uncrossed, shoulders back and head up. Looking poised communicates openness and invites dialogue, notes Bertone.
Break the Ice6 of 11
Need a conversation starter? Approach fellow guests with a smile, introduce yourself and ask how they know the host. While safe topics like the weather or sports may seem cliché or boring, heading straight for religion or politics could end your chitchat before it's even begun. "And don't worry," says Bertone. "As soon as you get a feel for each other the conversation will quickly get more interesting."
Go With the Flow7 of 11
If the threat of an awkward silence is enough to stop you from making small talk with strangers, scan the newspaper before the party. When you're fresh out of things to say, you can refer to current events to keep the conversation moving. If all else fails, simply ask personal questions that require more than a yes-or-no answer, suggests Bertone.
At Attention8 of 11
To truly be the life of the party, sidestep common party fouls: Staring past someone during conversation kills their confidence and your reputation, so always maintain eye contact during conversation to make each person you speak with feel like the only one in the room. As for cellphones, check them at the door. Constantly glancing at your cell doesn't make you look important, it makes you look self-important, warns Bertone.
Escape Artist9 of 11
If a chatterbox corners you, Bertone recommends waiting for a natural break in conversation and then politely excusing yourself. Make your exit believable by saying that you need to refill your drink or use the bathroom. And keep your explanation simple: Once you start rambling, your sincerity comes into question.
Lend a Hand10 of 11
Be sure to sporadically check in on the benevolent buddy who graciously offered their pad. "Any guest will be viewed with admiration if they offer help and they mean it," says Bertone. A stellar attendee will also make sure that other partiers are comfortable and content. Engage the host's socially inept cousin who's moping in the corner and you've just won event MVP.
Make Moves11 of 11
As the bash picks up, change your location every ten to 15 minutes. No need to walk from one end of the room to the other; progressing even a few feet is enough. Introduce your new pals to one another and both will appreciate the gesture.