The New Year is upon us and it’s time for a new segment, Eloquent Etiquette. We thought we’d expand our view to not only focus on creating exciting events and delightful details, but to also advise as to how to make formal party interactions and customs less foreign and daunting.
This week we found a great article, courtesy of Allure Magazine. “How to Make a Fabulous Party Conversation” caught our attention because it’s clear concise and gives you different topics and techniques to include or excuse yourself. Enjoy!
How to Make Fabulous Party Conversation
December 31, 2010
New Year’s Eve is one of those high-pressure party evenings: You know it’s coming for, well…a year, and you’re supposed to have the time of your life. But when you find yourself talking to people you met just moments ago—and might end up kissing when the countdown ends—there’s nothing like enforced fun to kill a conversation. Here’s how not to let it fizzle:
- Do a little homework. Read a few online newspapers and peruse blogs like Gawker andHuffington Post. That way, if someone brings up current events, you can ask a few strategic questions to get him talking. When you know what kind of guests you’ll be mingling with, it’s easier to focus your reading. “If it’s going to be a lot of investment bankers, the odds are that talk will turn to government oversight of Wall Street,” says Deborah Roberts, an ABC News reporter. “And you can keep that in mind as you read the paper that week.”
- Avoid the obvious. Don’t be intimidated by someone because of their job or reputation; just find out what interests him when he’s not at work. “Powerful people have hobbies, too, and they like to talk about them as much as anyone else does,” says writer Julia Reed, who has made small talk with senators and presidents.
- Ask for recommendations. People love to be asked about their favorite finds. Ingrid Sischy, a writer and the former editor-in-chief of Interview magazine, fishes for advice she can use on her next vacation or night out. “I’m always trying to find out great new places, great restaurants, great books,” she says. “Some of the best things I’ve done, I learned about at dinner parties.”
- Push some buttons. “Feel free to be wildly interrogative and ask profound questions,” says Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York and the author of Nasty: My Family and other Glamorous Varmints. “For example, ‘How’s your relationship with your mother these days?’; ‘When was the last time you cried?’ Fellow guests will think you’re insane, but the answers are never boring.”
- Know when to make your escape. If you’re really getting nowhere with the small talk, then extract yourself. “I often do the discrete handoff,” says event planner Deborah Williamson. “I’ll see a group of friends and introduce the person to everyone. After a few minutes, I’ll excuse myself and dash off.” If that fails, fake it. “I pretend to look for someone specific,” says Marjorie Gubelmann, a New York City social fixture who goes to countless parties every year. “I’ll say, ‘I’m looking for Dorothy—it’s always Dorothy. And then a few minutes later, I’ll apologize, excuse myself, and leave to go find Dorothy.” And the last resort? “Apologize and say you must find the ladies’ room,” says Gubelmann. Go in (even if it’s just to apply lipstick), then bump into someone else on your way out.
For this article and others at Allure Magazine: