If you've ever found yourself feeling awkward and out of place at a party, you're not alone. Whether you're going alone to the party of someone you barely know, or you wind up alone because your friend suddenly found their newest fling, you can still turn your party experience into a success!
When I moved by myself to a new city, I wanted very badly to meet people and resume a normal social life. Normally outgoing and easy to make friends, I found myself a hermit for basically a year until a co-worker from another office across town invited me to a party. Boy, was it awkward for me to get back into the swing of things and reconnect with my old self - the one who knew how to have fun at any party!
One important thing to do when feeling awkward at a party is to assume a role or take on a job. A great way that I have found to feel like you're blending right in is to show up a little early (make sure it's ok with the host or hostess first) and help them with food, decorations, etc. This not only helps the person hosting the party, but it also ensures that you will be introduced to people one-by-one as they enter Way better than showing up late when everyone is already there and the party is in full swing!
Can't show up early? You can still assume a job no matter what time you get there. Help the host with serving drinks, help make cocktails, or take the birthday card around for everyone to sign. Keep your eyes open and you will see a role that needs to be filled! This is a great way to mingle and meet people, and you won't feel awkward doing it since you have a purpose.
Obviously you know someone at the party (at least a little), or else you wouldn't be there. Be bold and ask your acquiantance to introduce you to some of his or her friends. Even if you just meet them in passing at first, you can take note of who seemed friendly or who you had something in common with, and go back and visit them later.
Go with an open mind. Parties are for fun and mingling, so don't be a wallflower! If your connection at the party is busy, be outgoing and introduce yourself to people. Even if you feel like you have nothing to say, you can just open with, "Hi, I'm _. Great party! How do you know (host/hostess)?" and go from there.
Parties don't have to be intimidating! Have fun and go with a goal of meeting at least one new person that you will hang out with in the future/network with in the business world/play tennis with, etc.
If you're really not having fun or the party is just not your style, excuse yourself politely and thank the host or hostess for having you.