Christmas is not only about the craft fairs. There are also the drinks parties. But there’s an unspoken technique as to to how you should to handle yourself in these situations and sadly it is one I have yet to master.
Christmas drinks is a great idea. After all, everyone is in a festive mood and throwing ‘drinks’ is a great way of paying back everyone you owe some hospitality to, without having to go the whole hog of a party. As the host, you may also have misplaced faith in the fact that guests will move on to dinner, or off home after an hour or two, however, there are a few of us overexcited individuals who would prefer to interpret the drinks party as tantamount to an all night rave. Having been invited ‘from 6.30pm’, people like me will pitch at eight and expect to be there for the duration and I see that these days, I’m not alone. Expectations are high for groaning buffets and free flowing alcohol until midnight, by which time, sadly, ‘drinks’ guests are finding it difficult to stand up straight.
The moving-on manoeuvre
‘Working’ the drinks party is something that others seem particularly well schooled in. When squished into a standing room only crowd, I find it an enormous relief to see a friendly face and beetle directly over. However, it seems that once I’ve cornered someone, I tend to latch on for too long. After less than ten minutes I find myself on the receiving end of a ‘moving-on’ manoeuvre. People will say;
‘Oh, I was just on my way back to the bar.’
‘Actually, I would really like to talk to that person over there.’ (pointing over my head)
‘I must just say a word to our host.’
‘I’m off to the loo.’
‘I just have to make a quick phone call..’
‘I’m going off to lalalala’ (i.e. inaudible excuse).
The moving-on manoeuvre always comes as a dreadful shock to me. Feeling desperate and also keen to retain my party credibility, I’ll say.
‘Oh, I was also going to lalalalala as well.’ But somehow, coming in with this weakly after the snub does not help.
Trying to ingratiate yourself into a clique.
You’ll see a group of laughing people and for want of company, you’ll stand just behind them for ages hoping they will let you into the circle. Sometimes you get in, only to receive the silent treatment so end up standing there like a lemon. You find yourself desperate enough to interject with a joke but your words fall flat when you realise no one is listenting
The drinks party bore
There will always be one person who is happy to chat to you for ages. They are even more tenacious than you. The only problem is that after half an hour, you are so bored that you are losing the will-to-live and hoping against hope that a good friend, or at the very least your blissfully unaware husband who is propping up the bar, will ‘save’ you at some point.
How to cope with bitings.
This is the trickiest of all. Let’s say you are lucky enough to be having an enjoyable and animated conversation, how many bitings do you eat in front of your fellow guest before they are revolted?
Since I’m normally planning to be at the party for the long haul, I’ll try to eat enough tasty snacks to constitute an entire meal. This works wonders for soaking up the alcohol but the tactic is not for the faint hearted. Eating whilst standing and balancing a drink poses its own problems.
1. First you must quickly size up whether or not the hors d’oeuvre in question can be consumed in one bite. Rather than say ‘no’ to food, you end up wrestling with the thing as it falls out of your mouth then spend the rest of the party with the resultant blob on your sparkly top.
2. If it’s a samosa you will worry; will grease drip down my chin? Will it turn out to be goat meat? Or full of chilli? Help, where’s a paper napkin!
3. How do you eat a meaty kebab in a ladylike fashion without piercing the back of the throat with a skewer. Then, horror, the meat is too chewy. How do I spit the lump into my napkin in a ladylike fashion without anyone seeing?
4. What shall I do with my now sizeable collection of skewers now? Handbag?
5. How on earth shall I conceal my kebab burp mid conversation?
6. Where’s the loo?
Finally the party gets easier, people are willing to listen; they are friendlier (if a little glazed over.) It’s only then that I realise that it’s past midnight and you are about to be the last guest standing. The host’s eyes are boring into you. Time for a sharp exit and a quick fried egg sandwich when you get home. Next morning, there’s back ache from standing for too long and sore head. When will I ever learn?