The only redeeming quality of being home for the holidays is, of course, the countless holiday parties you’ll be invited to. Whether it’s another booze-fueled high school reunion, a small wine night get together with your hometown friends, or a friends of the family “mostly adults” affair, they are all worth attending. I mean, your liver deserves a break, but not so much of a break that you come back to school next semester and black out during pre-game. Holiday parties are excellent because they are usually passable as “family time,” even though you’re not required to be glued to your mother’s hip the entire time. They’re also a great way of getting to see everyone from home that you want to see all at once. I’m a huge fan of every type of holiday party, but, as with all events in life, they come equipped with their own set of rules. Here are a few basic dos and don’ts to keep in mind while you’re rockin’ around the Christmas tree:
DO: Bring Something
There is nothing worse than a party guest who shows up empty-handed. Most people tend to bring dessert trays or side dishes. I, however, once burned myself attempting to make a grilled cheese, so I choose to bring a gift that is in my realm of capability: wine. A nice bottle of wine will never go unused, nor will it go un-appreciated (unless, of course, the host’s step-daughter is fresh out of rehab, in which case it was rude of them to invite her). Showing up empty-handed was okay when you were a kid, but I’ve found that the best way to trick people into thinking you have your shit together is by bringing gifts to parties.
DON’T: Bring A Friend
Unless you’re like, engaged, or have been dating your boyfriend forever, holiday parties are usually not the time to bring an unannounced friend along. I know this season is all about the whole “the more the merrier” mentality, but it’s actually rude to show up at a party with a plus one, especially a plus one who’s just a high school friend and not a significant other. If someone you know wasn’t invited to a gathering with your hometown friends, it’s probably because no one wanted them there. Don’t make things awkward by bringing said person along anyway. As for parties thrown by your parents’ friends, I know they aren’t always the most thrilling, but there’s nothing worse than making someone else suffer boredom with you.
DO: Wear Something Cute
The holidays are a great time for dressy outfits that are not quite pin attire, but are definitely too nice to wear to the bars. I love the “cute dress with tights and heels” scenario, and a casual “girls’ night in” is always a great excuse to have a “skinny jeans with boots and a cute sweater” moment.
DON’T: Wear Something Inappropriate
I’m using the word “inappropriate” loosely here. There’s the obvious meaning, of course: nothing too low-cut or too tight, because chances are you’ll be at someone’s house and not a night club. Yes, you want to show your high school boyfriend that you still look great, but you don’t want to give that girl who just got engaged reason to believe she has the authority to give you life advice. Nothing screams “I NEED ATTENTION” more than showing up at a family party dressed like a slut. I would also like to draw your attention to the other edge of the inappropriate sword: the matronly, too-conservative dresses that exist. Everyone makes mistakes, I get it. It’s your job as a savvy shopper to know the difference between a stroke of genius, and a seamstress having a seizure. You’re in college, not your fifties, after all. It’s okay to wear something with a sort of high hemline, or something that’s sort of tight. The key is learning balance. If you’re going with a low neckline, don’t wear something super short or tight. That being said, I have made it my personal mission to tell every girl I see this holiday season wearing one of those high neckline, cap sleeved, a-line skirt dresses that she looks like she’s expecting twins.
DO: Ease Up On The Sparkles
Allow me to elaborate. I love glitter, sequins and sparkles just as much as the next girl, don’t get me wrong. I just think there is such a thing as sparkle overkill. New Year’s Eve used to be the only holiday exclusively reserved for dresses that shimmered in any type of light. I understand that runways were sequin-studded this season, but I think everyone needs to make the compromise. There is a fine line between “cute and festive,” and “Vegas cocktail waitress.” Be on the right side of it.
DON’T: Get Too Annoyed With People When They Try to Set You Up
I know fielding questions about your love life from your family, friends, and any other adults you run into is the worst thing about being home. When I was younger, being introduced to someone at a family party used to be the absolute worst thing in the world. Maybe I’m getting desperate, but for some reason, the Gold’s nephew looks a lot cuter now that he’s in med school. Play along with any matchmaking attempts. Worst case scenario, you have someone to take you out for drinks a few times before you head back to campus.
DO: Leave Early
If I could sum up my social life in one sentence it would be “I was having so much fun, and then I left.” This used to apply because I would get drunk, and decide to sketch off to another party/bar/go shack with my regrettable idiot of a boyfriend, but it’s actually pretty applicable even when the party isn’t being held in a fraternity basement. Hometown visits are fun because they have a time limit. You’re definitely going to be gone after the first week in January because you have to go back to school. Think of holiday parties the same way and leave before everyone else does. That way you leave with a good impression of the party and you won’t linger long enough to have to help clean.