Swinging by your friend’s place for a quick gab during the week can feel like coming home. But during the holidays, an atmosphere that at once felt so familiar is now decked out with blinding lights, abuzz with people you may or may not know, and roaring with music that can feel like either, well, music to your ears or nails on a chalkboard. That’s why it’s crucial to come prepared.
Provide the entertainment
I once threw a party where some guy opened a beer bottle with his nipple. Now, I’m not saying that’s not an impressive LinkedIn-worthy party trick, but it’s not for everyone. Don’t be that guy. Instead, come prepared with a game or two that’ll get different social groups mingling like the What Do You Meme? Party Game and The Drinking Games of Chanukah.
My husband once took a course in sound engineering and has now indoctrinated me with the idea that laptop speakers sound “tinny.” My layman ear had no idea what he was talking about until I invested in actual speakers. The Skullcandy Barricade speakers carry crisp sound seamlessly throughout a noisy room . You’ll be the hero of the party once you get everyone chanting All I Want for Christmas Is You.
Bring a small, festive gift
There’s a chance your host is the lucky recipient of many a flower bouquet. While that’s all fine and dandy, more practical is a decorative vase. The Pottery Barn Madeline Mercury and Metal Vase is shiny enough to look festive and a relatively non-partisan shade of silver perfect for any denomination. Fill it to the brim with Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Christmas Santa Hat Kisses that your fellow guests will devour within minutes, allowing the host to finally put it to good use.
While edible holiday-themed gifts have a tendency to collect dust in the cabinet come the new year, pray to whatever god you believe in that your host actually opens and serves your Cratejoy Gusto di Roma: Italian Sweets and Savories box complete with charcuterie and all the trimmings. Just be sure to save your pungent snacking for after the mistletoe.
Then there are the less exciting yet practical stuff. A couple days before the party, your friend is probably running around like a Thanksgiving turkey with its head cut off. Ask them about any last-minute supplies they need, but make them “fashion.” For example, grab a set of red, white and green disposable cutlery to contribute to the décor. You want to avoid as much waste as possible, so instead of using a permanent marker to write down everyone’s names directly on their red Solo cups, place Jumbo Christmas Gift Tag Stickers or Shalom Blue and White Stickers on mason jars and write them down there. Front and center, it’s also a great way to remember people’s names without having to ask them a million times when the punch has gone to your head.
Be prepared for everything
Now, enough about everyone else. Let’s make sure you enjoy the party. You know what makes weddings and bar mitzvahs so carefree? The knowledge that if you rip the seam of your pants or get wine all over your shirt, there’s usually a selection of toiletries in the restroom. Using that logic, grab a Glitter Minimergency Kit and pop it in your bag or jacket pocket. It contains everything from deodorant towelettes and adhesive bandages to stain remover and breath drops.
A flask is the best way to ensure you get your drink of choice (bonus points for incorporating it into your outfit with a flask that doubles as a bangle). Since chances are slim you’ll remember the entirety of the night, invest in a professional yet affordable camera—one that does not live inside your smartphone, which is likely to run out of battery or get shattered after a particularly heated game of beer pong. The metallic red Nikon COOLPIX B500 camera delivers Annie Leibovitz-level photography capturing even the tiniest details far away. Don’t let your friends relegate you to paparazzi status, however. You’re there to kick back, too!
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