5 Things Everyone Is Guilty Of When Hosting New Year’s Eve
Congratulations. Your heart didn't stop on Thanksgiving, you outlasted the barrage of various December holiday activities, and you beat back against Christmas, driving it screeching into its lair. But there's still one obstacle left: The New Year's Eve party. And in a way, it's the party that poses the biggest riddles of them all.
We often underestimate the New Year's Eve party, because we're a cocky species destined to destroy itself. We never think that we'll screw up on these five things until it's too late. So read up, if not to change yourself, then to maybe help change mankind.
You Will Mess Up The Timing
Honestly, we're way too forgiving about scheduling our Christmas parties. I went to one on November 30th this year. It was 55 degrees outside and I felt terrible, because a party held on November 30th is not a Christmas party. It's drinking in sweaters. Due to our negligence in planning a Christmas party around the time that people actually feel excited about Christmas, we are repaid karmically by the madness that is trying to arrange a schedule on New Year's Eve.
Now, last year I drank bourbon and fell asleep at 10:45 in the middle of The Return of the King. My body expected some kind of frustration and shut down out of self-preservation. In the years before that, I'd always had multiple friends who were throwing their own separate New Year's Eve parties, along with friends who had asked me to at least try and meet them at a bar at certain points in the night. And because I'm a good, supportive friend who desperately seeks momentary approval, I promised to try. Oh, the folly of me.
I looked up images for "goodbye" and this is what I got. Easy, internet. I'm not trying to hurt you.
Unlike the days surrounding Christmas that fall into the "Appropriate Christmas Party Date Radius," you only get one day for New Year's. If you celebrate on December 30th, it's just a gathering of people who are really optimistic about their chances of not getting hangovers. If you send out a bunch of invites for January 1st, then I'm sure that you were a pleasure to work with on school projects. If you set it too early in the evening, you're gonna get a bunch of people who leave your place for the party that started at 9 PM. And if you start it too late, you're going to either get the sloppy end of someone's night out, or no one at all. Because the last thing I want to do when I'm seven glasses of champagne deep is find another couch at a totally different house.
"So, we go from this couch to ... another couch? You're not selling me on this concept."
And while the glow of Christmas has enough warmth to last out the days surrounding it, New Year's Eve is based around a specific second in time. So, if you exit one early in the evening to go to another one, does it make that first one less important? Am I missing out on something by leaving one party and going to a later one where people might be too drunk to give me any kind of solid reception? I don't demand trumpets when I walk in the house, but I arrived at enough 1 AM parties in college to know what the disapproving stare of "You Got Here Too Fucking Late And There's No More Jungle Juice, Bro" looks like.
I have no solid personal advice about timing, because at 11:42 PM on New Year's Eve, I know that I'll be texting someone "on my waay. I spille vodka on shirt hold on u play pokemon SUN YET?!?" But I can offer another entry on this list because, dammit, you've earned it.
You Won't Stick To A Solid Drinking Plan
I'm the Steven Seagal of the drinking police. I may start a night by reminding someone "Hey, try not to mix liquors, because I know how you get," but by the end of the night, I will be going above the law, and trying to find the right way to mix tequila and wine. It's a nice blend if you're into the kind of drunk that makes you think that having even more wiquila is a good idea. And I call it "wiquila" because wiquila doesn't exactly allow for that much creative thinking.
Steven Seagal in Under Siege 3: CHRIST, WHERE ARE MY CAR KEYS?
So I can't in good conscience wag my finger at you if you decide to mix beer or champagne with, and let's not get too crazy here, whiskey. What I can do is ask you to consider the trajectory of your Choose Your Own Drinking Adventure book for the evening, and maybe plan ahead. There are mystical alcoholic griffins in the world that can drink anything after anything and stay pleasantly inebriated.
I am not one of these people, and I have surrounded myself in life by others that are not these people. And through the poll that I've been taking over the past 10 years, I know that the dude who suddenly and loudly declares that he's switchin' to rum after a full day of drinking cider is the dude who's going to try to headbutt the bouncer.
Hip New Drinking Game: Take a shot every time you almost commit a misdemeanor until you actually commit a misdemeanor.
It would be easier if New Year's had an established drinking protocol like Christmas. At Christmas parties, you just prepare to have as much sugar and spice in your drink as alcohol, because the best way to celebrate the holidays is by feeling like your intestines are melting. But all New Year's has is champagne, maybe. And for a lot of people, you can either go all in on champagne, or just have one glass to signify being a year closer to the apocalypse. Balancing a night's worth of regular drinking with a special half bottle of champagne is like being the scientist that finally puts rockets on the backs of sharks. It'll be rad as hell if you pull it off, but you're playing a dangerous game, friend.
You're Going To Try To Enforce A Rule On Adults
So, the clock is ticking forward and you see some people reaching for their coats before midnight. "Where are you going?" you ask them, desperate to confirm that, yes, as you get older, the world does abandon you. "We're going home, because we're tired," they say. You look into their eyes and you see the dark circles and the glazed expression of "Fucking capitalism, man," and you have a decision to make: Do you tell them to drive safely and let them go? Or do you lambast them for being quitters and for breaking the sacred bonds of Happy New Year?
Let me preface this with the fact that I don't believe that midnight, even when it takes on the magical January 1st connotation of making all of your dreams come true, is some kind of unbearably late time. That belief will come eventually but, on most nights, when midnight hits, I'm either working, ordering a drink, or knee deep in anime. So, on a regular evening, if I tell you that I'm just "too tired" to stay up any longer, it's code for "Tonight, my body belongs to the couch, and my mind belongs to the bean dip. But my heart belongs to Tiger Mask W."
I got you, Tiger Mask. You're the tag team partner of my soul.
But if people want to go home before midnight because they're tired or because they've seen enough New Years to know that when the next year rolls in, their mutant powers don't manifest, the host needs to let them. I don't want to say "you need to let them," because I imagine that you don't have a childlike view of the importance of New Year's Eve.
But there's a small percentage of hosts that want to act like I don't know that math exists and tell me the number of hours I'd have to stay in order to hit 12. Which is the best way to ruin a party. Push the fridge over. Accidentally stab the Uber driver. We can all get over that stuff. But nothing threatens the mood of a party more than a host who takes the guests hostage with the promise that staying until some special point will improve the night in ways that we couldn't have imagined. And if you believe that seeing the dawn of the new day is the must-attend event of the season, you're already setting yourself up for a letdown, because...
You're Putting Way Too Much Pressure On A Single Second Of Time
In movies, New Year's Eve should be replaced on the calendar with "PREPARE FOR REDEMPTION, VARIOUS CHARACTERS." The steps leading to two people being around each other at 12:00 AM will make them fall back in love, when, in actuality, trying to make a dying relationship last to a holiday is basically asking God to ensure that you'll have an argument over who gets to keep the dog. I don't know how much he was in the actual movie, but legendary actor Robert De Niro showed up in the trailer for New Year's Eve just to say "Nothing beats New York on New Year's Eve." And if you listen really closely, you can hear the earth's happiness collapse in on itself.
*the death rattle of joy*
I know all of this now, but I didn't know this in sixth grade. Twelve years of watching movies had beat out zero years of any kind of New Year's party that didn't take place in my parent's living room. While I was there, watching Star Wars: A New Hope and eating the cheese, dried meat, and cracker plate that my dad made annually, I was sure that I was missing out on something. Elsewhere, all of the cool kids from school were counting down in unison and then making out with their own personal Jennifer Love Hewitts. And I was stuck with George Lucas' 1977 fantasy/sci-fi classic and a plate of delicious appetizers. Fuck you, my whole world.
This misery is heartwarming and delicious.
I would learn that not mouthing a mouth at the end of a countdown doesn't mean that I am the slimy shamechild and that I should retreat into the hole that I was destined for. We all learn that, but I think we momentarily forget it when we see everybody gearing up for smooching in the 10...9....8. I was in a long-distance relationship with a girl in college, and I thought it was going well. But even though I was technically dating someone, on New Year's, when I found that I was one of the only two people in the room that wasn't tightly holding on to someone like a bomb was going to drop, the truck of self-awareness drove through the wall and slammed into me.
So, in what had become a staple of my personality, I yelled when we got to 0, because I could divert attention away from my apparent loneliness by being loud and awful. And now, as a more confident person who someday wishes to put a bunch of dinosaurs in a park, I realize that I can't blame movies or misplaced expectations for all of my problems. But I can slightly wish that middle-school me knew that New Year's was more about having fun, and less about the lack of Hilary Duff in your arms.
"You mean I don't get married to Hilary Duff OR make a fortune pro wrestling as 'The Dan Machine?' Man, the future is bullshit."
You'll Invite Someone Who Will Have A Terrible Time
Cracked's done a lot of great articles about depression or anxiety or simply dealing with others who have a different personality than you. And one common thread in a lot of them is that some people are fixated on the idea that the best way to fix someone's personal issue is to add more people to it. Had a sad day? Go to a party! Chemical imbalance? Have an orgy at the mall! Long history of introversion? If you arm wrestle me and lose, I get to give you a noogie at your family reunion.
I mentioned that New Year's is more of a free-for-all when it comes to mixing themes than the holidays that are near it. At Thanksgiving, the people around you are usually the people who you trust to handle cooking a sweet potato casserole. At Christmas, the people around you might be involved in some gift-giving exchange, so you need to at least know the framework of the guests' personalities. But New Year's is "WE'RE DRINKIN' 'TIL THE CLOCK CHANGES." And the options for how you go nuts about it are limitless.
"The only limit is how far you're willing to let your imagination go!" - Me, I bet.
So yeah, ask people to go if you think they might enjoy it. But if a person seems shy and tells you that they don't really feel like it, they're usually not going to "break out of their shells" when put in the middle of a non-descript social event. Again, pop culture teaches us that the people who don't like to dance will dance the hardest when they finally work up the courage to. The cautious virgins would slobber all over the supermodels, if only they could harness some of that incredible New Year's energy. It could happen, though. This year, I saw a Margaritaville in the Jamaican airport that was bigger than the goddamn baggage claim. I believe that anything can happen.
Believe in your dreams.
But it usually doesn't. Usually, the host ends up inviting someone and then ignoring them when they don't become the pulsing ball of WOOOO! that they gave no indication that they'd be. The host goes to them, makes short small talk, and then leaves for an hour, repeating the cycle throughout the night before finally asking "Did you have fun?" as the guest leaves the party. And the guest, in an effort to not say "That was like having my dignity lobotomized," says "No, yeah. I had fun. No really, I had fun. I really did. I promise. Yeah, thanks."
I'm not so sure that I'm sold on New Year's Eve anymore. Happy Bean Dip, Alcohol, and Anime Day, everyone. Celebrate it constantly.
Daniel has a blog.
For more reasons to shun the last party of the year check out 4 Embarrising Moments From the Worst New Year's Countdown and 5 Reasons New Year's Ruins Everything Great About Drinking.
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