Home for the holidays? Do yourself a solid, hang out with your parents & their friends. You’re too old to be dragged to one of your parents’ social events, you should be tagging along willingly. So for a day (or night) trade in your kegs & Jäger for a grown up affair of bottled beer, cocktails & delicious food for free ninety-nine.
When you’re in town, your parents will most likely introduce you to an insane amount of people. While you’ve been off at school or working your big city job, your parents have probably spent a good chunk of time talking about you. They’ve been keeping absolute strangers in the loop when it comes to your life. See, whether they know it or not, parents enjoy swapping kid stories long after so-called kids have graduated high school, gone off to college, got a promotion, etc. And, while you’re back in your hometown, your parents will introduce to their friends who, I hope, have only heard good things about you. Parties are a great way to maximize face time with your parents and their buddies as you shamelessly eat & drink everything in sight.
Before you leave the house, know what you’re getting into and ask your parents what’s up (alcohol, designated driver, etc). CYA and BYOB if need be, but you should be in good hands. You might be able to save your twenty-something – age and/or amount – dollars. Plus, a Jäger-free bar, stocked with out-of-budget booze really lifts the spirits. Definitely something to consider before you make a mistake & flake on your parents. C’mon, go to the party, it’s the least you can do.
While thirdwheelin’ with your parents, in quest of superior booze and foods, please exercise caution.
Caution: Before you make a beeline for the bar, do yourself a favor and eat something.
Actually, eat EVERYTHING. Hors d’oeuvres & buffets are pretty much the social norm when it comes to adult affairs. A far cry from a sad sack of Lay’s & PBR of our younger, wildly inexperienced years, parties become virtually synonymous with eating and “cheat days” after a certain age. What age exactly? Whenever you put your foot down and say “NO MORE VOMIT COVERED BATHROOMS”. See, hosts don’t expect their guests to shave, shower, sit through traffic and scarf down a 3-course meal before a soirée. No. Instead they arm themselves with multiple snack bowls, a buffet area, and sometimes even a grill. They come prepared so you don’t have to.
A properly lined stomach is the best defense for a puke free powder room.
Speaking of which… The best defense is a great offense. Hosts take it upon themselves to make you feel at home right away. In one breath, the host has shoved an appetizer in your hand, served you a drink, and introduced you to a handful of people. The best icebreakers include , “can I get you a drink?”, “you have to try (insert food here)” and my all-time favorite “would you like to be a judge in our rib cook-off?”
Every party is not structured around some sort of cook-off, and that’s okay. But, if your parents allude to any kind of culinary competition, THAT is the party you should be saying YES to. Over the summer, I had the pleasure of attending a rib cook-off with my parents (I love ribs!) When I was asked to judge 4 different rib recipes, I accepted this great responsibility with honor. Each chef had been marinating over flavor combinations, dressings and textures for the past 12 months. There was even a miniature grill shaped trophy for 1st place. Don’t be fooled, a friendly competition is still a competition. That said, even the friendliest of competitions can make grown men act like school children. Taunts were made, happy dances were danced & the winning was not particularly won gracefully. If I had been intimidated earlier, I surely wasn’t by then.
Lesson: At the end of the day, we all just want to shoot the shit with our friends.
Be social. It’s not always easy to carve yourself a space among long-time friends. If you’re ever stuck looking for conversation topics, stick to what you know (school, job, travel, blog…). No one expects you to roll out with a 5-year plan over cocktails. You’re there to have a good time, sure, but also so that your parents’ friends can put a face to a name. They’re not interviewing or criticizing you. Relax!
Note: Shameless self promotion works fairly well here.
Once you’re comfortable, don’t be afraid to showcase your twenty-something skills. Good at editing pictures? Show someone your favorite editing app. Speak another language? Teach someone to say something useful or fun.
At the end of the party, the hosts were discussing customized cars. Out of nowhere, the term “murdered out” pops up & eyebrows were raised. Before we knew it, the hosts were going back and forth debating if the term even existed. Somehow, I found myself in a warped, adult version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things” where I stood in for Bill Cosby, and my parents’ peers the children. Assuming my new role, laughing my way to 6-pack abs I let the ridiculousness ensue. Eventually, I settled the Great Murdered Out Debate by pulling up the Urban Dictionary definition on a phone:
When a vehicle has both black paint and black aftermarket wheels. The window tint should also be really dark and other aftermarket accessories such as black taillight covers etc. should aid in blacking out the ride.
After you’ve laughed, cried, eaten everything & boozed, it’s time to go home. When everyone starts grabbing their purses, and dishes, calmly start searching for Mom and Dad. Your carriage awaits!
#1 Party Tip:
Annual. It’s really just a fancy way of saying “I can only do this shit once a year!” People will no longer expect you to throw more than one party per year.