I have been to several holiday parties in New York. Specifically party by and for people in media. I have seen a five-tier eggnog fountain, and I have drunk from its bounty. I have played Wii on a giant projected screen in Dumbo. I have seen madras in the winter.
Mistakes, there have been a few. But let my learning experience be your handy guide to this December’s rounds of booze-soaked merriment.
- Eat a healthy lunch. You’re going to be drinking whatever they serve you, and you know this. Don’t pretend you’re “sticking to red wine tonight.” If you end up at a second or third soiree, and they’ve got punch, you’re going to end up drinking punch. Prepare your body for this alcoholic clusterfuck by eating some greens at lunch. Get your nutrients in before destroying everything else.
- Be Buzz Lightyear. Not Drunk Lightyear. When you arrive, polish off two drinks in quick succession, then eat an hors d’oeuvre. Ride out the buzz, prolong the buzz. Do not shoot past it and get drunk. That’s when the bad things happen.
- One Free Pass. Actually, you’re allowed to be drunk at one of these. Just not your company’s. Going to some startup’s party in Chelsea? And you’re a friend’s +1? And they’re playing Girl Talk? AND they have that weird small-batch gin from Brooklyn? Get drunk. Talk to everyone. Dance like an idiot.
- Every party has sliders. Right? Every single one. Mini cheeseburgers make a terrific dinner.
- It isn’t Friday. The holiday party season has a curious effect, like a Magritte painting, of reversing the normal weekend/weekday routine. You drink all week and then do nothing on Saturday and Sunday. It’s fun to sip champagne on some office building’s rooftop at 1am on a Thursday, but remember: you have to go to work in 7 hours. I recommend buying a case of Vitamin Water. Drink one before you pass out and you’ll be fine. And if you’re lucky enough to have a surprise +1 at your “after-after-party,” be polite and offer her one too. Note: if you get the Facebook flavor “Connect,” do not make a joke. It will be lame. Trust me.
- One eggnog. You’re allowed one. If you drink more than that you may as well be dipping a pancake in Johnnie Walker.
- Genius idea! Dip a pancake in Johnnie Walker. Does it taste amazing? Let me know.
- There’s a reason the back of most business cards is blank. When you meet someone, you’ll probably exchange cards. Quick! Before tomorrow’s hangover erases all the salient details, write on the back of her card the pertinent details. She told you about that cool new Michel Gondry website, and a new bar in Park Slope, and…
- Dancing on desks. For some reason, any holiday party with a person dancing on a desk becomes instant lore. I’m not sure why. Most desks are quite sturdy, so there’s not much danger of falling. If you’re feeling it, go ahead and jump on something elevated. Move your butt a little bit. Yell, “I wish Andre 3000 was Santa Claus!” Instant hero of the party. (You’re welcome.)
- Gaga Bingo. You will hear more Lady Gaga this month than a dozen Sweet 16 parties. Accept it. Do what I do and try to play off of her insane persona. Need an opening line for that someone you’ve had your eye on? Approach him or her and say, “Isn’t this the video where Gaga rides a white tiger into a giant armpit made of Chanel bags?”
- Don’t “network.” Socialize, yes. Networking, no. You know the difference.
- Crashproof. If you’re crashing a party, and the jig is up, say this: “You caught me. I’m on unemployment, and I’m so tired of sitting around the apartment all day. At the same time, I have been volunteering a lot. Man I hope Obama extends benefits; it would suck if John Boehner got his way.” Now your host is talking about Obama, and you’ve elicited some sympathy. Another drink?
That should cover the basics. Good luck out there.