Confessions of a Terrible Holiday Party
Real stories. Real people. Really blown attempts at gay seasonal gatherings in Atlanta serve as hosting lessons for the rest of us.
By Mike Fleming
Friends and family coming together for good cheer is such a warming thought this time of year. You’ll just invite some folks, you say. It will be rewarding, you tell yourself. It can be super low maintenance, you think.
Think again. Without some forethought and your head in the game as you make plans, your attempt at hosting the perfect holiday party could turn into one of the horror stories we discovered. These hosts ended up with tidings of anything but comfort and joy.
Never fear. We take a close look at the damage to create a list of lessons to learn as you head into your own cocktail or dinner party.
It’s Not About You
“I attended an elegant affair at the home of a Morningside queen who had the house professionally decorated and staffed it from kitchen to bars to door. That’s fine, if impersonal, but he blew it when he stepped out an hour before start time so that he could arrive late in a grand entrance.”
Lesson Learned: If your event is about your glory and not your guests, don’t throw one. Ask how you can personally make each guest feel welcome.
Fool Me Once
“This guy sends out engraved invitations every year to his ‘Stock My Bar’ holiday party. Not only does he want us to BYOB, but an extra bottle for him to keep. To make matters worse, he assigns liquors and brands and tells you what to bring. Adding insult to injury, there’s a “check in” at the door – because you are literally paying your entry with alcohol. I went one year to please a date. Neither of us left impressed, and I’ve never been back.”
Lesson Learned: You sate your guests, not the other way around.
“One host is notorious for calling his event a ‘Tree Trimming Party’ but what he really wants is his friends to buy the decorations for the tree, bring a dish to share, provide the booze, serve as the bartenders, and stay to help clean up.”
Lesson Learned: If you want to throw a party, don’t call on friends to make it happen.
Hold Your Liquor
“The worst holiday party I ever attended, the host didn’t pace himself. He started yelling half-inappropriate and half-incoherent rants pretty early, and was hurling in the bathroom by midnight. People were just drifting toward the door trying to figure out how to leave gracefully.”
Lesson Learned: You’re on duty at your own party, at least enough to temper your intake and help others have a good time.
When I was in my 20s, I went to the home of a retired local gay bigwig with a bunch of friends. We were honored to be invited, until the host used a ‘tour of the house’ ploy to put his hands all over me. When that didn’t work, he moved on to my next friend, and the next.”
Lesson Learned: “Your House, Your Rules” doesn’t apply to uninvited groping, Trumpy McGrabsalot.
“There was this party at a certain condo tower in Midtown where the host over-decorated in general, but specifically over decorated for every possible religion. Kitschy stereotypical tchotchkes in every nook and corner made people uncomfortable – especially when we figured out he didn’t mean it as a joke.”
Lesson Learned: If you want to seem inclusive, go neutral on the religion and keep decor simple. A few well-placed lights, candles and pretty colors go a long way.