An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

No embarrassing dance numbers or backhanded comments about your physical appearance this holiday season.
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Brace yourselves. Photo: Franceso Carta Fotografo

The holidays are a polarizing season. On one hand, they’re intended to spread cheer. On the other, they’re a roller coaster of events, gatherings, and social responsibilities that can be particularly overwhelming to a certain group of people—introverts


While introversion is a spectrum, and not all introverts necessarily want to spend Christmas and the holidays alone, there are a few things that tie them together: a limited social battery, a low tolerance for external stimulation, and a preference for smaller groups. 

As such, the blazing lights, flood of unknown relatives, and loud karaoke noises from the holidays may be a little bit much for the typical introvert. So VICE asked some of them about how they deal with the holiday rush. 

Establish rules 

“I have rules between myself and my friends. When they want to ask me out to go to some party or event, they have to ask me two weeks in advance because I need to make sure that I can make the commitment,” said Slye Serrano, a 28-year-old business owner based in Manila, Philippines. 

Serrano said he’s only been out of his house about five times since 2020, and four of those were to go to the office of the company he runs. 

For introverts, having a set of rules can make organizing social events that much more bearable, allowing them to mentally prepare for an upcoming gathering or attend one on their own terms. Serrano’s close friends and family also know that it’s unlikely he’ll come out of his house, so they usually bring the party to him. 


“If they really need to see me, they’ll visit me here at my house. They also know how paranoid I am, so they bring their vaccination cards and their rapid antigen tests,” he said. “They know I don’t like going out.” 

Stop going to family reunions if you don’t want to

Twenty-two-year-old graphic designer Rage Perez said that he has stopped going to family reunions, which are typically held during the Christmas season in the Philippines, where he’s from. Meeting up with relatives is a yearly tradition but now, younger Filipinos feel that they shouldn’t be a requirement. 

Perez said he and his siblings didn’t want to be put in the hot seat anymore, recalling cringe comments he’d receive from his relatives about his physical appearance. For them, “tumaba ka (you gained weight)” and “pumanget ka (you got ugly)” are unwelcome remarks during the holidays (or any season for that matter). 

“Just thinking about [going to family reunions] gives me anxiety, because I’m required to small talk relatives who’ll ask [me about my] future love life, career plans, and even [my] income right now,” he said. “Why would I want to engage in those conversations when they have little to no part in my life in general?” 

Perez said that his parents understand why he and his siblings no longer want to participate in these events—past reunions always resulted in heated discussions about political views.


“The holidays in itself is overwhelming for us introverts,” Perez said. “Just do the best thing for your mental health.” 

Make up a default excuse 

There’s no shame in declining invitations to social gatherings, so have a few default excuses people can’t argue with. Tell your friends you’re busy, have work or assignments to finish, or don’t have the energy to attend—those usually work. It’s not about lying. Actually, it’s more about being honest about what you can commit to.

“There are [holiday] invitations almost every day. Ninety percent of those invitations, I decline, but I make it a point to show my face at least once,” Serrano said. 

Find subtle ways to escape socializing

Kevin Si, a 31-year-old business owner from Manila, said that he’s so introverted, he spends Christmas and New Year alone. “I have a lot of social anxiety in terms of being able to converse with seven people or more, even if it’s an intimate dinner,” he said. But as a business owner, attending company-wide events and gatherings is part of his job description. 

“For company events, I have to be the representative of the management. I don’t want to offend the people, making them think we don’t like spending time with them,” Si said. “As much as possible, I’m one of the people that really exits last, since I also have the responsibility to check the cleanup, how the program went, safety, etc.”


Luckily for his employees, having an introvert organize company events means there are no dance performances and embarrassing games on the agenda. But to survive night-long socializing, Si usually excuses himself with a drink and looks for empty balconies, gardens, and other places to get some breathing space. Others, like Serrano, look for and hang out with simpler company, like kids or pets. 

Bring a friend—ideally an extrovert

They say that you should spend time with people who match your energy. But every now and then, an extrovert comes in handy to get you out of your shell and, more importantly, lead all the conversations. When attending social gatherings, it sometimes helps to come with someone who can do all the socializing for you. That’s how Serrano does it. 

“Before I say yes [to a gathering], I make sure I secure a plus one first. I prefer that plus one to be someone who’s an extrovert. I use her as a shield so that it deflects the attention away from [me]. When a conversation is inevitable, pass it over to the plus one,” Serrano said. 

Practice conversation

Joana Ferran, a 20-year-old accounting student, considers herself an introvert because she has a limited social battery and is generally not good at socializing. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to attend any gatherings at all. 

In fact, when she does go to one, she’ll stay ‘til the end. But because she’s not good at socializing, she thinks it’s important to mentally prepare at least a day before. 


“If there are social interactions, I have to ready myself. Before I leave, I have to think about what I’ll say to them,” Ferran said. 

She said this applies to family gatherings as well. “I keep thinking about how to talk to them. When there are gatherings, I imagine our conversations. But what I mostly think about is how to greet them, for example, ‘Merry Christmas.’ I need to gather courage to do that because sometimes it feels embarrassing just to greet people.” 

Ferran said that the holidays, or any event in general, requires intense mental preparation on her part—not just because she wants to avoid embarrassment, but also because she doesn’t want to make the people who invited her feel like she doesn’t want to be there. 

Si, on the other hand, refers to the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” when practicing. One of his key takeaways is first asking for a person’s name, looking for a certain detail about them that’s interesting (something about their clothing, the way they present themselves, etc.), then asking a question about that. 

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