I don’t know about you, but I could use a party. It could be something elegant, like a lovely dinner party for six set in a forest glade with rabbits for waiters. Perhaps an informal Midwestern-themed potluck with paper plates and folding chairs and everyone bringing pasta and jello. Or maybe I’m in the mood for something along the lines of an “eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow-we-die” festival. This may sound a bit desperate, but those can actually be a lot of fun, mainly because no one has to get up and work the next day.
Besides being fun, a good party can put you on the map. Taken from Jane’s Guide to Being Cool in New York City (not available on Amazon.com), here’s my best piece of advice: pick a party, give it once a year, and stick to it. This method is guaranteed to work great if you aren’t very gregarious to begin with, and if you’re a bit of a propeller head such as myself. It’s easy to remember, your friends all know about it, and they’ll bring others with them. Being a legendary host has always held a lot of currency in New York City. You will be known far outside your own sphere of influence. Your powers will grow.
So let’s get you started with some ideas. Ball’s in your court.
New Year’s Eve
Well, this is the obvious choice. Personally, I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole – but you might be able to pull it off. If you want to dive in and be known as THE party to go to 11 pm Dec 31st and 8 a.m. Jan 1st, you have two choices: spend a ton of money, know the right people, or be amazingly creative. You’re going to have a lot of competition, both public and private (not Times Square because no one really wants to go down there). But there are parties, galas, restaurant deals, dances, and my favorite: sitting on the sofa drinking scotch.
Back to the party theme. If you can spend a whole truckload of money on a private restaurant with a staff and a Michelin star chef; if you can rent a loft with a fully stocked bar and bartender; if you can afford a ballroom on a yacht, go for it. You don’t need me to tell you what to do. If these aren’t in the budget, you’ll need to be creative. If you are lucky enough to live in a historic building or district, people will want to come and see your apartment. New Yorkers are nosy, and we love seeing the insides of a famous building. Get a live band (musicians are cheap) and lots of champagne (that can be cheap, too), and make sure nothing is off limits. If you have a dismal little studio, you could try just booking a stripper and providing lots of blow. Your call.
Cinco De Mayo
The best party I went to was hosted by an Irish fellow that Al (the hub) used to work with. Gavin had the brogue, the dark sense of humor, and the authenticity that only a disdain for the finer points of grooming can bring. And, once a year you, could count on going to
Gavin’s Cinco De Mayo party. He always booked a live 3-piece mariachi band in full regalia, and got a local restaurant to roast a whole suckling pig (so, not vegan). Classic margaritas flowed like water, with some blenders set aside for those who think a fire-engine-red smoothie with tequila is a “margarita”. Homemade guac made with ripe avocadoes, tray upon tray of enchiladas, talavera on the table and picado banners made me say “Ay, caramba! Que fiesta tan buena!”
St. Patrick’s Day
I wish I could tell you about the Mexican guy Al (the hub) worked with who gave an annual St. Patrick’s day party, but alas, I can’t. That’s not to say they aren’t out there….and you could be the first. The parade is purely optional, but green beer and a place to puke are a must for your St. Paddy’s Day blowout. If you want to attract the fun crowd, you’ll start at 3 p.m. by serving unlimited bangers and mash with a flight of microbrewery beers. By 8 p.m. you’ll have reached critical mass, and you can start a pub crawl that lasts ‘til dawn. Not for wimps.
May Day or Labor Day Picnic
You’ll pick a park – Brooklyn’s Prospect Park or every New Yorker’s backyard, Central Park. Or head to the Bronx and try Van Cortlandt. Scout out locations in advance. Get the gps coordinates. Bring blankets, and plastic sheets to put under the blankets if it’s damp. You’ll need some volleyballs, badminton or croquet sets, gloves and softballs. Make pb-n-j sandwiches, fried chicken, and cookies. If you sneak in some illegal flasks to spike the fruit
punch, remember I’m the one who told you not to do it. Ditto for finding those less-policed parts of New York City where you can set up a hibachi and grill burgers and doggies. Bunches of grapes complete the picture, but make sure you have a rain date just in case. If you’re really daring, stage your own Manet “Dejeuner sur l’herbe” photo op. You’ll get repeat customers for sure.
New Year’s Day or Boxing Day
Classic choices for an all-day-into-the-evening open house. Set a firm starting time, but be flexible about the end. Keep it low key, and your grateful friends will come to relax and restore the tissues.
A Killer Birthday Party for Yourself
A friend of mine rents a theater every year for her birthday. Her friends take the stage for singing and dancing (it helps that she’s played Broadway). For those of us whose talents are more contemplative and less external can pitch in with filthy lucre to help fund the event, with extra proceeds going to a charity of her choice.
Oscar Night / Superbowl
I’m not a big fan, but if you and your friends love these American standbys, go for it. You know the drill. Nibbles, beer and/or champagne, and the biggest small screen money can buy.
My favorites are here. Why not do an annual President’s Day bash? You’ve got plenty of material. Make everyone pick sides and dress up: Trump and Andrew Johnson vs. Lincoln and Obama in tag-team thumb wrestling. Winning side gets to appoint the next Supreme Court judge.
For some good clean fun, don’t forget Polaski Memorial Day in the fall. Everyone else can be doing Octoberfest (suckers!) You’re heading off with a pack of festive party goers to watch the parade on Fifth Avenue and then some kielbasa and shots of krupnik in Greenpoint.
Also under consideration: Chinese New Year, Day after Tax Day, Diwali, Mardi Gras – the sky’s the limit.