Accept, Decline, Maybe? Navigating an Overpacked Social Calendar with Pooja Advani

'Tis the season to party, but just how much? Pooja Advani breaks it down for you. 

Ever found yourself inundated with invites and crippling anxiety on just where to go? You’re not alone. December gets packed with a slew of festivities, weddings and office parties. Unless you’re a unicorn, being in two places at once is out of the question. If the stress of overcommitting makes you want to crawl into bed and feign illness, this one's for you. Le Mill spoke to luxury influencer, influencer and former beauty editor L’Officiel India on staying sane during the busiest time of the year.   

Getting triple booked on the same day can cause quite some stress—what is your rule for scheduling?

I fill in my planner to block a date as soon as I receive and accept an invite. After the pandemic, I have been ruthless with declining anything that comes up after the first. I truly enjoy being in one place instead of hopping from one party to another. It doesn’t feel like you did justice to yourself or the effort put in by the host.

Having said that, of course there are times when there are multiple engagements on the same day that are unavoidable. During these times, I make sure to accept only if the events are located close enough to each other so that I can spend substantial time at each.

Work-wise during the festive season, there are multiple commitments which need to be honoured due to brand relationships or supporting friends and new businesses. I’m not sure how successful I am there, but I do my best to accommodate anything which is integral to my work.

How do you politely decline invites without inventing excuses?

I pride myself on being selective and don’t make excuses for anything which is not in the radius of what I consider important for either my work or for me personally. Even though I do have to and want to be at many places at the same, there are as many events I decline as there are those that I attend. I decline by simply saying that I’m sorry but I won’t be able to make it. I believe directness without justifying is or should be respected by most.

How do you dress if you have two clashing invites on the same day?

Well here comes the power of styling—add or subtract an accessory, change a shoe, throw on a jacket and make the same outfit work for both events. These days with more fluidity in dress codes and fusion wear being au courant, it’s possible to attend a traditional function and a fun party after without needing to feel completely out of place at either.

Do you always enter a party with a date?

If it’s a social or personal commitment, I almost always have my husband as my date but for work events or other day time parties, while I love to coordinate with a girlfriend, sometimes it’s just more time efficient and practical to go alone. I’m absolutely fine entering a party or event alone as long as I know I’ll have friends to hang out with once I’m there.

What are some major socialising no-nos?

Arriving earlier than the time on the invite, overstaying when you are not close enough to the host, getting into heated discussions with any guest, not making an effort to interact with other guests. Also being inappropriately dressed especially if there’s a dress code not adhered too.

When do you overdress, and when do you underdress?

I would hope to do neither but I have been accused of overdressing from time to time! I would probably be likely to overdress to a big party or for a special occasion, or during the holiday and festive season when more seems to be more. I rarely underdress and definitely not intentionally. However, I believe that while I may dress mostly for myself, it is important to be appropriate and respect certain etiquette. For example I would never want to show up pointedly more dressed than the host or a bride and so it’s important to gauge the crowd and formalness based on where, for what and who invites you.

What are the etiquettes of gifting a host?

Always take something for the host that you would like to receive yourself - a bottle of your favourite wine, candles as no one can have too many and coffee table books are a few of my go-tos.  For special occasions or housewarming, more thought and effort should be put in to ensure that you gift something appropriate and in keeping with the recipient’s taste, sensibilities and lifestyle.

How many parties do you host each season?

On average, I host smaller dinners at least monthly or even fortnightly in some seasons. Bigger parties are more spaced out.


How do you recover after a hard night of partying?

By sleeping in, hydrating and vowing to never do it again…again :)