Rent An Off-Season Beach House & Other Holiday Party Advice

968full-eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind-screenshotMy favorite Christmas was when we ran away.

I had been having a stressful, exhausting year, sure that we were going to lose our apartment and that I would lose my job and that there was nothing I could do about either. (Call me Cassandra: I was right.) Ben and I were discussing where we might go to spend some reparative time alone together when we heard a small voice say, “Meet me in Montauk.”

Hey, Montauk! The beach town on the tip of Long Island. No one goes there in the winter. Maybe everything would be cheap and surreal and cozy and fun!

It was. We got a great deal on a room at the Montauk Manor, a grand and, at that time of year, echoingly empty place with long hallways and high ceilings and deserted grounds within walking distance from a cemetery. It was a bit like staying at the hotel in the Shining, only with less blood in the elevators. As more or less the only guests, we had the run of the place: the pool, the lobby, and, best of all, the courtesy van, whose driver took us everywhere we needed to go. We even took a very cold, foggy hike through the state park to see the seals.

It wasn’t a party, really, but inexpensive and memorable solitude was the best Christmas gift we could give each other at the time. If you are going to throw a holiday party this year, though, you might want to think along similar lines. Try the unexpected, suggests GQ: “There’s plenty of new memories to be made in some rando’s off-season beach house.”  

Other closer-to-home suggestions include making your own snacks, like maple spiced nuts; having civilizing elements like coasters and cocktail napkins; and providing a rudimentary bar in lieu of punch:

Regardless of the occasion of your party, you need beverage diversity. Here’s your shopping list:
· Wine, red.
· Whiskey, good.
· Beer, shitty or otherwise.
· Seltzer, non-alcoholic
· A small selection of mixers
And if you’ve got more than a dozen people coming, you could stand to make a cocktail. 

They suggest a Negroni which, sure, fine. It’s relatively easy and inexpensive to make a Dark & Stormy, too, or a Bloody Mary, which is even more festive (and the only known good use of V8). Or maybe serve spiked hot chocolate with kitten marshmallows?

kitten-marshmallows

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iVillage has some less cat-centric, frugal friendly ideas, including asking your guests to BYO cups, which would have never occurred to me:

Forget stocking glassware by asking guests to arrive with their most festive martini glasses! … Design a self-serve buffet full of finger foods. Then use vibrant, shiny, thick wrapping paper to line each serving tray or plate. 

None of this is too earth-shattering, but it does make me think of what has distinguished successful holiday parties I’ve attended. Panache, really. Some friends of mine throw an annual Bad Christmas Sweater party with a White Elephant gift swap component that takes hours. Another, who has several card tables, divides her party into groups of four and has everyone play pinochle — then, when they’re ready for something rowdier, celebrity. What works for you?

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