I'm writing this because I am an anxious person and it keeps me from going to parties when I would like to. Here's what I do that has worked but I'm hoping you will suggest some more for me. Thanks!
  1. Upon arrival, drink instantly, then continuously
  2. Ask a woman to please check if your dress is zipped up? After she looks, you can thank her for looking, and trap her in a conversation?
  3. Keep a low level in your drink at all times, just sipping. When you need to leave a conversation, gulp down the rest and use "needing a refill" as your polite excuse to duck out.
    Suggested by @chris
  4. My favorite trick is to find someone with a friendly face and, instead of asking the usual, "What do you do? Where are you from" line of questioning, I ask, "So, how has your day been? What did you do today?"
    This sets a friendly, familiar tone instead of an awkward, we-just-met one, and people love talking about their days.
    Suggested by @gabimoskowitz
  5. Go to where the food is and camp out.
    Then talk about the food. "What is that?" "Have you had it?" "Is it good?" "I'm particularly concerned about the color of the cheese but maybe it's suppose to look and smell like that?" Everyone has an opinion about food and usually I can meet and start a conversation that way. Bonus, people go to the food buffet by themselves so you aren't trying to break into a group! Worse case, if it's too awkward, I just shove a piece of bread in my mouth, effectively ending the conversation.
    Suggested by @eatthelove
  6. Look for person with friendliest face/most open body language/chillest aura
    Simply ask "Who are YOU?" and let the games begin. Best case scenario, they become your new best friend. Worst case scenario, you've bought yourself some time to figure out your next move.
    Suggested by @emjuko