Monday, November 12, 2012 9:00 AM EDT
The holidays are just around the corner. So begins the endless march to holiday parties and, for some people who have decided to host, an endless march into your house. Somebody needs to host these things, and hats off to you for taking the sugar-cookie bullet. Maybe you alternate with another relative or maybe it’s become an annual tradition. A few years ago, following a nightmarish New Year’s Eve at a Mississauga-area hotel (I know, how could that go wrong?), I loudly proclaimed that from that day forward I would take control of my destiny and host my own New Year’s party, and I was as good as my word.
Now, the same number of years later, does a time come every New Year’s when I suggest to my wife that we just turn out the lights and hide? Of course! But I always fulfill my promise and end up having a reasonably good time.
Herewith, the secrets to having a reasonably good time entertaining.
1. Entertaining should be fun for the entertainer, too.
If the burden of decorating your house/office, cleaning, cooking, skewering things and making small talk begins to outweigh the fun of entertaining, then stop. Just don’t do it. People will find ways to eat too much and get drunk without you. Actually, speaking of skewers...
2. NO SKEWERS
You gave me some chicken and peanut sauce, thanks. But now I have a bamboo stick? Am I supposed to eat this, too? Do I look like a panda? And didn’t you see that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, with Ben Stiller, and Ben Stiller’s eye?
3. The holidays mean drankin’
Let me qualify that: the holidays mean drankin’ within reason. And then a little bit. If you’re hosting a party, make sure you’ve got a well-stocked selection of the standard libations, as well as some pre-mixed cocktails in pitchers. Just take your favourite cocktail and expand the ratios up; if, for example, a cocktail calls for two ounces of something with an ounce of something else, translate that to a bottle of the something and half a bottle of the something else. When it’s time to serve, dump some ice in there, stir and pour. People are very impressed by this. What is it about the holidays and drinking, by the way? Give someone four days off from work and they turn into Keith Moon. Make sure everyone has the option to call a cab or a corner to sleep it off in. When they do wake up, make sure to stand over them and do the standard “WEEEEELL LOOK WHO’S UP?” shame routine.
4. Provide something for the kiddies
Remember going to parties with your parents as a kid? It is thrilling see adults do adult things like drink and laugh really loud and talk about snow tires — but only for a while. Eventually, boredom sets in and that’s when the squirmin’ starts. That kid-friendly playroom was a godsend, always freshly stocked with toys that the hosts’ kid is dying to show off, particularly if it was a rich kid. (Those were always an eye-opener. Both a Nintendo and a Sega? So decadent! You’re like a modern-day Caligula!!) Make sure the kids have a safe space to spaz out in, so they don’t see you drankin’ straight from the cocktail pitcher.
5. Rent glasses and plates
Rental goods will save your life. Bonus: they’re not that expensive. Double bonus: some party supply places will even pick up and drop off. Always rent more than you (think you) need, so you can always fish a fresh glass out of the box if somebody needs one (I personally go through an average of 90 glasses during the course of a party). Best of all, you just drop them back in their boxes and it’s someone else doing the dishwashing! This allows you to spend the final hours catching up, drinking, eating, and having fun — which was the whole point, remember?