Party like it’s 2017
A seven-point do's and don'ts guide for when you attend the jolly and rambling house parties that materialize at this time of the year
Isn’t the whole point of a party that it be fun? Not just for the guests, but for the hosts as well? Spare a thought for the borderline obsessive hosts who are keen on checking if their guests are doing all right, often wasting away their evening in the process. We put our heads together, and appropriated a few Lounge columnists and contributors, to fashion a do’s and don’ts list for when you attend the jolly and rambling house parties that materialize at this time of the year.
An unwavering rule No.1 is that you inform your host not just how many guests, but who, you’re bringing to the party. Sure, it might be a party of 40, and you might think an addition of one won’t matter. But we live in an age of social landmines. There could be exes, professional nemeses, or two people who’ve been fighting on Twitter all day long, who find themselves staring at each other over your bar counter. Personally speaking, there might even be an author the hostess has presented herself to only very professionally until then, who shows up as a plus one when she’s dressed as Josie the Pussycat for an animal-themed party.
I’m generally irritated by the cultural incongruence of “bringing along a bottle of wine". In any case, wine makes little sense unless it’s a cosy dinner party. “Wine and whisky may be lovely but they are so yesterday. Gin is the drink of the moment," says Lounge contributor Shoba Narayan. “Try Botanist or Sipsmith, which have flavours of Juniper and other esoteric infused botanicals. Ditch Schweppes and splurge on some Fever Tree tonic water. Hard to source but worth every drop."
Our food editor, whose interest in cured meats is only toppled by her interest in rock ‘n’ roll, shares my views on guests taking over playlists. “There should be some etiquette in place for controlling the playlist at a party so that the mood doesn’t change from mellow jazz to Govinda hits or heart-exploding EDM. Unless there is an on-site DJ, let the host decide the musical tenor of the evening and don’t demand to plug and play your own iPhones," she says. Take a cue from our music columnist, Sanjoy Narayan (no relation to Shoba, except good taste), who has been considerate enough to gift curated playlists to hosts in the past. “Works well if you roughly know the genres they like and then try and surprise them with artists they may not have heard," he says.
Here’s a short but important one: Try not to keep losing your glass. You know those glasses that shatter and spill? They tend to be the orphaned ones. If your host doesn’t have party glass markers, use a stirrer that you think you might recognize after your third drink.
If dinner is part of the evening, the onus is on the host to check on your dietary restrictions. But do be honest. It’s heartbreaking, not to mention rude, when you say, “Oh I eat anything," and then disdainfully sift through trays and bowls. Also, if you want to eat at 7.30 because of the life path you’re on, eat before you arrive. The sight of a single plate piled with food early in the life of a party sends out signals that the end is near.
If Instagram is your plus one, try to be quick and classy about it. The party is not your personal prop shop. And no, you absolutely cannot switch the lighting around because your face looks better when lit from the left side.
Our food columnist, Pamela Timms, has a closing thought. “It’s nice to take a gift rather than alcohol, especially as a lot more people are choosing not to drink alcohol (very millennial apparently)," she says. She usually tries to take something she’s made: a sourdough loaf, biscuits, etc. But since we are not all her, she suggests taking a plant (flowers die!) or a book—something the host can keep.
Now, look for those party shoes.
The writer tweets at @aninditaghose