Thank goodness for the holidays, because otherwise winter would be SAD. In the years of old, whoever planned out our current calendar knew that around this time of year everyone would def need some festivities to look forward to; especially those that include the greatest indoor heater known to man, wine. However, as we grow up, these celebrations seem to come with their own set of mysterious, unwritten rules. Should I bring the host a gift? Can I play with that Nativity set? Is is tacky to bring a flask of my own cinnamon whiskey not to share? (Yes, yes it is, and why are you drinking cinnamon whiskey? You are better than this, Stephanie.) So, to navigate all of this Yuletide confusion we asked writer Kira Cook to gift us her favorite tips on how to be a gracious guest at any holiday party.
The holidays are NIGH, folks. We've got a solid six weeks of weekends chockablock with holiday parties on the close horizon and we want to help you put your best fancy foot forward. Those sparkly blue suede shoes weren't cheap, after all! So here's a primer to help you avoid putting that fancy dancing foot in 1) your mouth 2) your vomit 3) a sticky situation.
1. WAIT, WHAT GIFT
If you're attending a holiday party this year, and I really hope you get to attend at least ONE as they are truly the jolliest occasions of the year in my humble, Christmas-birthday-having opinion, then you have one major rule to keep in mind.
Bring a host gift.
The importance of this class-act move cannot be understated. A host has sunk a lot of time, effort, and money into this party. They've at minimum strung a mistletoe and lights, at maximum dotted their walls and living spaces with cozy wintry-themed scenes to really set the mood. They've laid out a snack-spread to help soak up the alcohol that they have also laid out for you, free of charge. They are your friend, or at least a friend of your friend.
They deserve a gift! In the spirit of the holidays, sure, but also because it's proprietary custom. Additionally, most people will forget to do this, rendering you effectively among the most responsible-seeming, hella-adulting royalty at the party. You will win serious brownie points if you bring a gift, and that's never a bad thing. It at least guarantees you a heavy pour on your delicious cocktail, and a whispered direction to the upstairs bathroom that nobody knows about.
2. OKAY COOL A GIFT BUT LIKE, WHAT?
Don't stress about what kind of gift to get your host: we've got you covered! It doesn't have to be anything super elaborate, but it does have to be thoughtful. A bottle of wine is always a generous move, but if you can up the ante with a personalized gift choice, all the better.
Is your ho-ho-host from Chicago? Get something small and representative of their hometown, they'll be so touched that you put the effort in. Are they Jewish? Then don't bring 'em a dang Christmas-themed gift, but how about instead something functional and stylish like a menorah tote, applicable all nights of the year, really. Pro move: stuff the tote with a baguette and some cheese. As I mentioned above: you can't ever have enough cheese.
3. STEP UP YOUR FESTIVE GEAR
Now's not the time to worry about looking dorky. The holidays are for unabashed, childlike glee. It's when we all get to return to 7-year olds, eagerly tearing at suspiciously shoddily-wrapped gifts for being from the Experts at the North Pole because they're actually from Mom and Dad (SPOILER ALERT: NSF CHILDREN).
What I'm trying to say is: go all out. Get the audacious, ostentatious sparkly thing in the vintage store that screams Dolly Parton Christmas. Get the dopey Christmas sweater. Don the Santa shirt. You're going to light up the mood of the room times ten when you festive-ize your bod, and it's a great way to wear a walking conversation piece. Make the party easy on yourself and others, say it loud and proud: I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS AND I DON'T CARE WHO KNOWS IT!!!!
4. WRITE HOME ABOUT IT
The lost art of letter-writing is never more apparent than during the holidays, when you check your mailbox everyday and hope for some presents and festive cards but only see bills and catalogs. Wait a second, your aunt's sending out an E-HOLIDAY UPDATE this year?!?! Nooooooooo. You loved the tradition of those boring 6-page long updates in loquacious cursive.
It's up to you now, merry little grasshopper. Take the lost art of the holiday card into your own hands. You know how delighted you are when you get a holiday card, so maybe provide that joy in kind to someone you love! Get some cute winter-themed cards and write home, literally. Your parents will love seeing your handwriting for the first time since you went away to summer camp, and your best pal from 3rd grade will love reading your memories of those snowmen you made together all those years ago.
BONUS: HOW TO HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST
It's super easy to get trashed at your own party because you're constantly setting down your eggnog (heavy on the 'nog) to greet new people or partake in a dreidel spin. That means you're constantly getting handed or making yourself a new drink, and guess what a dozen half-glasses of holiday punch adds up to? I'm no math major, but that's 6 cocktails, my friend, making you officially the drunkest person in the room.
Hot tip: don't be the drunkest person in the room at your own holiday party. Leave that to your lovable idiot friends, or those guys you didn't invite but managed to coast on being a friend of a friend until you noticed all your Knob Creek was gone and all those lovingly hand-crafted pumpkin bars were polished off before you even got a bite.
You want to be sober enough to make sure no one's destroying anything in all their holiday-related enthusiasm. You also want to be sober enough to remember the conversations with people you probably only get a chance to see a few times a year. You also want to be sober enough to actually be a good host, which at its base level means being aware of the needs of your guests, greeting newcomers, introducing people that might fall in love platonically or romantically, making your shy friends feel comfortable, confidently ushering people around your beautifully-decorated space, and replenishing the cheese. Above all, replenishing the cheese.
Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen! Go forth towards the holidays with a newfound confidence that you have this season fully handled, sparkly blue suede shoes intact.
Photos by Samantha West.
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