Richmond Proper: On not being THAT GUY at the New Year’s Eve party

“New Year’s Eve parties, being long and not carefully orchestrated — as, say, a dinner is — offer many opportunities for behaving badly, in ways one will suddenly remember with a sickening flash at breakfast the next afternoon.” — Judith Martin.

New Year’s Eve has become the national quintessential Saturday night, set aside as a social occasion with built-in disappointments for everyone. There is nothing like an officially designated time of glamour and excitement for producing mass discontent and depression.

— Judith Martin

Sometimes I feel sorry for New Year’s Eve. We put too much pressure on the poor evening. We dress up and are disappointed if we don’t get enough compliments or if the pictures don’t turn out right. We make sure to plan a wild night and we look forward to the spontaneity of it all, when the act of planning it out has already ensured that NOTHING about it will be spontaneous. We mask our bad decisions as the unexpected folly of a drunken party, when we know exactly which bad decisions we’re planning to make when we wake up the morning of the 31st. We use the holiday to make our party-fueled actions seem less calculating.

Whatever happened to good conversation, good friends, and celebrating a new year and a new beginning?

A NYE party seems to provide more pitfalls and chances for failure than the average party. “New Year’s Eve parties, being long and not carefully orchestrated — as, say, a dinner is — offer many opportunities for behaving badly, in ways one will suddenly remember with a sickening flash at breakfast the next afternoon,” writes Judith Martin.  “If you can’t manage this yourself, you can always observe a loved one behaving badly.”

One way to take some of the pressure off of New Year’s Eve is to resolve not to be the most unruly guest at the party.  By all means, have a blast — but not at the expense of others. Nothing puts a damper on holiday fun like hosts or friends having to wrangle an unruly guest — cleaning up after him, assessing damages, attempting to calm him down.  Don’t be that guy (or girl).

Plan ahead.

Make arrangements ahead of time for designated drivers, how you’re getting home, or where you’re going to stay. Scrambling to put this all together at three in the morning will probably not result in the best path you could have taken.

Eat a big dinner.

If you plan on drinking for a long period of time, make sure to fill your belly with food first. Nobody is surprised that the girl who had a house salad for dinner is already down for the count before midnight. Eat bread! Lots of bread.

Dress appropriately.

If the theme of the party you’re attending is “I’ve given up on life,” you should totally wear your faded-paint-stained-art-school-t-shirt, jeggings, and Crocs. If attire is “festive,” get festive. And don’t use being broke as an excuse. Making the effort to find something dapper at a thrift store and taking a few minutes to groom yourself will show your host that you care. She does not expect you to spend a lot of money on an outfit.

Be a good guest.

All of our previously discussed rules for being a good guest still apply.  Just because it’s New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean that consideration for others has gone out the window.

Limit your intake.

Pace yourself so that you can enjoy (and remember) the entire evening instead of just the first hour. Sip your beverage and enjoy the taste of it. Try not to switch between different types of alcohol all night.  Drink lots of water. The most useful drinking advice I’ve ever been given is as follows: Always have your drink in one hand and some water in the other. Every time you take a sip of alcohol, take a sip of water. You can drink for days and remain in good health. To this day, I have never seen this method go wrong when strictly followed.

Ask your host what you can do to help.

If you notice that your host is a little flustered — which is highly likely at a New Year’s Eve party — ask if you can do anything to help. You may be able to refill drinks or straighten up a little, and it will be greatly appreciated. Even if he’s fine and doesn’t need help, the gesture will mean a lot to your host.

Stick to the plan.

If you volunteered to be the designated driver, don’t start taking shots at 1am. Your friends are counting on you. Don’t announce to your friends that you just heard about a sweet party via Twitter and you should all abandon ship for the newer, cooler party. Changing plans at the last minute is a good way to get blacklisted from future events. Also, try not to get separated. If you made plans to meet up with your ride at a certain time, be there. Don’t make him search every party on the block, listening for the telltale tones of your nasal laugh.

However raucous or tame your New Year’s Eve is, I hope it’s your best one yet!  Much love and luck in the New Year from Richmond Proper.

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Tess Shebaylo

Tess Shebaylo is a freelance writer, crafter, history geek, and compulsive organizer. She works at Tumblr and lives in Church Hill with her husband, Dan, and their two cats.

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