10 steps to the perfect holiday party
Image courtesy of Geoffrey Ross
1. MAKE A GREAT PLAYLIST
A party’s mood is all in the ear of the beholder, concludes research from Goldsmiths College at the University of London. If you play happy music, listeners are more likely to perceive those around them as having a holly-jolly good time. This is due to the “priming effect” of music: Play “White Christmas,” for instance, and you’ll be subconsciously steering the listener toward feelings of nostalgia or sadness. Play “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and, well, they’ll just be really, really confused.
A safe bet? Nat King Cole’s “The Happiest Christmas Tree.” As the chorus goes “Hoo hoo hoo, hee hee hee,” your guests will be “laughing happily.”
2. EAT AND BE MERRY
Feeling shy? Hit the crudités. Vegetables containing folic acid increase the production of serotonin, a confidence-boosting brain chemical.
3. SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION
According to Miss Manners (a.k.a. Judith Martin), it’s unnecessary to bring a hostess gift to a party (yes, even to sit-down turkey dinners!). The catch? You have to reciprocate hospitality if you don’t. So, you choose: Arrive with Belgian chocolates in hand or plan on squeezing your boss into your studio apartment later.
4. DECORATE IN STYLE
Loop that tinsel and hang those wreaths—guests in your home are more likely to feel relaxed in a room full of curvy elements, concludes a study from Oregon State University. Partygoers will also rate the space more favourably because, according to research from the American National Academy of Sciences, gazing upon “curvilinear contour” activates the reward area of the brain. Who knew?
5. TUNE IN AND TURN OFF
Three things your guests can do with their cellphones—besides Instagramming about your amazing canapés and ignoring one another:
- Give the “stacking game” (where everyone puts their phones in a pile on the dinner table and the first person to cave pays for the whole meal) a festive twist. Ask guests to make a tannenbaum with “branches” made out of phones. The first one to give in to the FOMO itch has to tear down the host’s real tree come New Year.
- Along with a coat check, have a “phone check” in the form of a (well- guarded) punch bowl, where guests surrender their social-media devices.
- Get everyone to download a snow-globe app and turn the mantelpiece into a virtual winter wonderland.
More holiday party rules: What to wear and how to flirt…
Confetti image courtesy of Geoffrey Ross. Runway images courtesy of ImaxTree.com
6. FLIRT A LITTLE
Watch your conversation partner’s pupils to see if he’s into the banter. The more dilated they are, the more he’s digging your weather small talk.
HOLIDAY BEAUTY: Party lashes
7. MAKE SOME MISTLETOE MOMENTS
In Victorian England, mistletoe was believed to foretell one’s martimonal future: Every time an unmarried girl is kissed beneath the festive parasite, a berry is removed. If you haven’t been playfully pecked by the time all the fruit is gone, it’s a bad omen—signalling you might find yourself single again at next year’s turkey buffet.
8. DRESS FOR THE OCCASION
- According to Emily Post, “festive attire” is a call to don the colours of the season—and that means red and green. Avoid looking like Santa’s little helper and opt for a modern twist on the holiday colour combo.
- The aim at any office festivity is to avoid overexposure—of the sartorial and the personal kind. Keep it professional in seasonal favourites, like a 1940’s circle skirt.
- If you’re heading to a house full of reindeer-festooned “ugly sweaters,” embrace the theme—but with a high-fashion twist.
9. DRINK IN STYLE
Ward off the "bah humbugs" by sipping a beverage of the warm variety. According to a study conducted by psychologists at Yale Univeristy, holding a hot cup increases our feelings of warmth toward our fellow man. (Mulled wine, a hot toddy or hot cocoa would work equally well, although our vote is for the one with marshmallows.)
10. ENDING THE NIGHT
Saying goodbye to your host (plus all the guests whose names you can’t remember) is so last Kwanza— “ghosting” is all the rage among partygoers who just want to get the ho-ho-ho out of there. Sometimes called “the Irish goodbye” or “the French leave,” this is the practice of slipping away from an event—a little like the Ghost of Christmas Past, one might say.