Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Attend a Holiday Party

Holiday parties have been in full swing for a couple weeks now, so I thought it was time I shared a few useful lessons that I've learned, to help make party-going a bit smoother.

It's taken me quite a while to develop what I consider to be "best practices."  But I think I've finally reached the point where I achieve each of these steps, in order, at every single holiday party I attend.  Not only do I consider this a feat of incredible merit, it should also be reason enough to invite me to your next gathering...

How to Attend a Holiday Party

1. Do Not RSVP
You are much too busy watching TLC reality television and taking Advil PM every night to bother with things like "letting friends know you can make it" to their holiday party.  It's not like having a head-count is crucial for food/drink preparation or space considerations.  No, you should let your presence be a surprise!  When you ring the apartment buzzer, you really want to hear a mixture of confusion and disdain when the host greets you with an "Oh, I didn't know you were coming. I guess. Umm. Come on up?"

2. Dress Inappropriately
The next step has taken me years to perfect, so really take your time with this one.  Specifically, over-analyze all possible outfit options, decide you have nothing to wear, go to Target to buy something new, bring it home, realize it doesn't fit because you didn't try it on at the store, and then cry.  Next, try to think about what this party's dress code was last year, maybe that will help!  You definitely remember it being more on the casual side, so throw on jeans, and congratulate yourself on locating within your closet a cute, seasonally appropriate top.  When you arrive at the party to find what appears to be a scene out of the board-game "Clue," realize that you didn't go to this party last year.  Because, if you had, you'd probably remember the ball gowns.  Ohmygod, is that guy wearing an ascot??

3. Attend "Solo" Because You Don't Have a "Boyfriend"
See: every blog post I've ever written.

4. Anger the Neighbors
This one should be relatively easy -- because, who are you kidding.  You didn't bother reading the entire 'Evite' to get the exact address, so of course you're going to knock on the wrong door.

5. Arrive Empty-Handed
That long, Saturday evening nap you took was timed exactly right -- you woke up 10 minutes after both the liquor store and Target had closed.  So, go ahead and forget about bringing a host(ess) gift or the traditional bottle of wine.  Instead, rummage through your cabinets for that canvass-wine-holder you bought for 99 cents at Trader Joe's, fill it with 6 bottles of miscellaneous, "Lite" beers, and meekly smile when everyone looks disparagingly at your contribution to the party.  It also helps if, when the host points you in the direction of the kitchen for a bottle opener, you laugh and pull out that key-chain-bottle-opener you always carry, exclaiming, "no need -- I brought my own!"

6. Talk to No One
Mutter to no one in particular: "how are there so many people here?!"  Next, do a quick mental calculation of how many people would be at your hypothetical holiday party, were you to invite absolutely everyone you knew, and absolutely everyone showed up. When it adds up to roughly 1/10 of the people in this room, feel self-conscious. Then immediately proceed to Step #7.

7. Eat All the Cookies
Hey, no one was eating anything anyway!  I mean, look at some of these people, they're like, H&M-model-skinny.  No, this food is meant for you, and you alone.  So, fill up on an assortment of cookies, until the reinforced paper plate literally bends under the added weight.  Don't bother with a napkin -- you want to be forced to use your shirt sleeve to wipe away the powdered sugar that is somehow all over everything, even though powdered sugar wasn't an ingredient in anything you ate.  When, at some point in the evening, someone makes a loud, passive aggressive comment about how all the cookies are gone, innocently join the rest of the guests as they survey the room looking for the 'culprit.'

8. Leave Early
After completing steps 1-7, leave the party -- ideally around 10pm, since you have a busy day of sleeping-in tomorrow.  You want to be nice and rested for your Sunday-Thai-take-out-for-dinner plans!  But, first, on your walk back to the bus stop, think about how much you enjoy this time of year.  The dressing up, the meeting new people, the seasonal treats.  Be silently confident in your ability to 'kill it' at every party you attend, and excitedly anticipate the many more invites you'll no doubt receive this time next year.

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