The Dos and Don’ts of Going to a Party Alone Without Looking Pathetic

Mark Yocca/Supercall
Mark Yocca/Supercall

Even for the most fluttery social butterflies among us, going to a party alone is never preferred—but we’ve all had to do it at some point. Maybe you’re attending a coworker’s birthday and discover you’re the only person from the office nice enough to show up. Maybe your better (and more responsible) half got paged to go work her shift at the emergency room and had to bail on you. Maybe a party thrower misspelled an email address and you accidentally received an Evite to someone’s 10th anniversary party. Whatever the case may be, if you follow these dos and don’ts to attending a party alone, you’ll fit in in no time.

DO Show Up Late

Maybe you know someone at this party, but more likely you do not. And showing up on time or (gasp) early, increases the likelihood that you’ll be standing solo with the party host casting about for things to discuss. It is cliché to say you should show up fashionably late, but if you do, it will be easier to slide into a critical mass of attendees.

DO Eavesdrop on Conversations

No, not like looming over someone’s shoulder eavesdropping, you creep. Just perk your ears up and see if you can pick up on a buzzword or two. “Oh were you talking about insert popular television program? I love insert popular television program. Although last season of insert popular television program was better.” There aren’t a lot of great options for striking up conversations with strangers, so this method is definitely better than trying to start a conversation from scratch.

DO Go All In on the Theme

Regardless of whether or not anyone else chooses to embrace the party’s theme, you should. Think about it: If everyone shows up in tropical attire, you don’t want to be the one shlub there in a sweat suit (why do you own a sweat suit anyway?). On the other hand, if you’re the only one there in a Hawaiian shirt, it will be a conversation starter, if nothing else.

DON’T Wander Around

The one person that is definitely at the party by himself is the one wearing a path in the carpet between the chip bowl, the drinks table and the bathroom. Doesn’t he look confused? Doesn’t he look lonely? He probably doesn’t even have to go to the bathroom. Don’t be that guy.

DON’T Keep Looking at Your Phone

Nothing says, “I have no one to talk to and am missing several basic social skills” like standing in the corner of a room full of people swiping left and right, or playing Candy Crush. Put that thing on airplane mode.

DO Show Up Ready to Make Drinks

While everyone else is slamming back bottles beer, you can draw a little wanted attention to yourself—and maybe even make a few new friends—by coming ready to mix an easy cocktail. Stash a little bottle of vermouth in your jacket, and you’ll probably have everything you need to make a Martini, which will immediately make you the most popular person at the party.

DON’T Get Wasted

Yeah, drinks can provide some social lubricant, especially in an awkward situation like this. And you want to be relaxed and fun. But, it’s easy to go from fun to FUN!!!!, especially if you’re at the party alone with nothing to do but have another drink. No one knew you before the party, and now they’ll always remember you as the guy who threw up in the guacamole. Which brings us to...

...DON’T Do Shots

Perhaps you recall this rule from such other works as, “Dos and Don’ts of Drinking With Your Coworkers,” “Dos and Don’ts of Drinking at a Wedding” and the likely upcoming, “Dos and Don’ts of Drinking With Anyone in Public Ever.”

DON’T Do Anything You’ve Ever Seen in a Movie Party Scene

It’s not 1978 and you aren’t John Belushi.