How To Throw A Solar Eclipse Themed Party

On Monday, August 21 the sun will quit on the United States, and we don’t blame it.

Okay, not “quit” per se, but the moon will pass between the earth and the sun causing a total or partial blockage of the sun, depending on where you live. We think that calls for a themed party!

Total Eclipse Of The Screen

For the times the eclipse won’t be visible, we suggest playing space themed movies in the background. In particular:

  • Zenon, Girl Of The 21st Century
  • Armageddon
  • E.T.
  • Contact
  • Alien
  • The Martian
  • Independence Day
  • Space Camp
  • The Jetsons
  • Any Star Wars film
  • Any Star Treck film or episode
  • The Magic Schoolbus Gets Lost In Space
Total Eclipse Of Your Clothes

What’s a themed party without a themed outfit? If you want to impose a dress code, or are just really feeling the theme, here are some options:

  • black and white – simple, classic, and appropriate
  • polka dots work, too
  • of course, anything with a sun or moon on it would be apropos
  • but I think the best outfit for the day would be a full Miss Frizzle-style eclipse getup.
Total Eclipse Of These Snacks

Snacks are the best part of a theme party. Some suggestions:

  • Moon Pies
  • Black and white cookies, but in various stages of eclipse
  • Cheese (because the moon is made of it, clearly)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sunny D
  • Sun chips
  • Starfruit
  • Regular apples, but sliced in half so you can see the ‘star’ in the middle, which always wows the under-5 crowd the first time they see it
  • I really do feel like you could use sun, star, moon and circle-shaped cookie cutters on any number of foods! For real, this is probably the way I would go.
Total Eclipse Of The Bar

Eclipses can be day-drinking events if you want them to be. We recommend:

Just don’t get so crunk you forget you can’t stare at the sun and burn your retinas.

Total Eclipse Of Some Games

I absolutely love when people get excited about astronomical phenomena, whether it’s a meteor shower, solar or lunar eclipse, unusual visible planets or the northern lights. I was raised by a science teacher and we made a BIG DEAL out of this stuff when I was a kid. For instance, one time before I could read a ticker came across the bottom of the TV screen telling viewers that the northern lights were visible. The rest of my family bounded from their seats because they knew we’d all load into the minivan to try to see it – except for little illiterate me, watching TGIF and wondering what the big deal was.

All that is to say that I think this solar eclipse is a fine time to celebrate the wonders of our solar system – and what better way to do it than with games? Here are a few:

Name That Constellation!

Similar to our map-labeling games in our American and Canadian themed parties, this one is either a chance to show of your knowledge or a chance to get a little funny. Have individual printouts of constellations, or a large map of them on the wall. Let guests label them with their names. It’s fun to get it right, but it’s also fun to make up your own constellation names based on what they look like – which, after all, is what happened many years ago, anyway. The big dipper part of ursa major? Yeah, that’s a Deep Fry Basket.

Solar System Mnemonic Mad Libs

I’m so old that when I was a kid, my very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas. The kids in my life tell me that now, she serves nachos. Sorry, Pluto.

If you learned the order of the planets through mnemonic devices, this all probably sounds familiar to you. If not, forgive me.

You can create wacky solar system mnemonics -and reinforce your childhood space knowledge – with a mnemonic madlib. For instance:

  • My
  • [Adjective starting with V]
  • [Adjective Starting with E]
  • [Noun Starting With M]
  • Just
  • [Past Tense Verb Starting With S]
  • Us
  • [Adjective Starting With N]
  • [Noun Starting With P] [“Dwarf planet” means nothing to me, sorry not sorry.]

Mad Libs are always funnier if the person who is providing the words doesn’t know what you’re creating.

Pin The Moon Over The Sun

It’s like pin the tail on the donkey, but it’s eclipse-themed, and it’s probably better after a few Tequila Sunrises.

Planetary Twister

You can create this board pretty easily with a plastic table cloth. Draw all of the planets in several rows or a small circle. You will be using this as your twister board, so you have to set it up so that it’s plausible that a person could reach from one to the other. You could even do an entire row across of Mercury, an entire row of Venus, an entire row of Earth, etc.

For extra nerd points, don’t label the planets. If you don’t know Saturn from Jupiter, you’re out.

Total Eclipse Of U.S.

Hop over to our America-themed party post, because the total eclipse will only be visible in the United States. Also this is a great way to use up all of your miniature American flags from the Fourth of July.

Total Eclipse Of These Songs

I feel like since the sun and moon are both involved in this one, songs having to do with either of them are fine. Some of the more eclipse-y are:

  • Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler
  • Steal My Sunshine by LEN
  • Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers
  • I’ll Follow The Sun by The Beatles
  • Walkin’ On The Sun by Smashmouth
  • Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles (can never have too much Beatles, OK?)
  • Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me by Elton John
  • Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden
  • Bad Moon Rising by Credence Clearwater Revival
  • Dancing In The Moonlight by King Harvest
Total Eclipse Of The Sun

The main thing about your eclipse party is, of course, the eclipse! Just don’t go outside and stare right at the sun, which will burn your retinas. Instead, stock up on verified eclipse sunglasses – your nearest library or science museum may be your best bet, but Amazon is good too (just make sure you get verified glasses).

There are suggestions all over the web for how to view the eclipse, so we won’t get into it. Just know that options include a contraption with a shoebox, tin foil and paper, a simpler cardboard thingy, looking at shadows, or the internet:

 

  • NASA will livestream the event on their website.
  • You can also see the eclipse at the Exploratorium in San Francisco or on their website.
  • All major networks will be covering the event

Here is some help in finding the best time to view the eclipse near you. Non-U.S. folks, don’t despair! First of all, we have cornered the market on despair for now. Second, a partial eclipse is visible in other parts of North America as well.

 

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How To Throw A Canada-Themed Party

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada! The true, north, strong and free marks a century and a half this week with #Canada150, and it’s not just Canada that’s celebrating. The whole world – and especially the rest of North America – owes Canada a debt of gratitude for its strong yet kind example: Canada cares for its citizens, welcomes refugees, expands human rights and learns from its mistakes. Although I’m an American, I’ve always been proud of my Canadian ancestry (my grandmother’s family was in Quebec since the 1500s) and have been grateful to live near the border of such a fantastic neighbo(u)r. If you love Canada too, maybe you’d like to celebrate Canada on its sesquicentennial anniversary  … or get a jump start on your Canada Day planning. Like our American-Themed Party, these ideas aren’t intended to replicate a “typical” Canadian party. Instead, they’re some fun ways to boost Canadian pride, celebrate a beautiful country, and maybe even learn a bit of trivia.

Games

Polite Water Balloon Relay

This is basically a normal balloon relay. Each team forms two lines and players toss a water balloon back and forth to each other to reach the end of the line. If you break a water balloon, you have to start back at the beginning. The first team to send three water balloons successfully down the line wins.

Here’s the twist: each team member needs to say thank you before passing the balloon off. Each player must also say sorry if they drop the balloon AND if the person before or after them drops it, even if it’s not your fault. If a player forgets to say thank you or sorry, you have to start over (sorry).

Duck Duck Canada Goose

Here’s one for the kiddos. This is just like Duck Duck Goose, but when a player is chosen as “Canada Goose” it either goes apeshit or stands directly in the pathway of whoever is trying to catch them without moving. If you really wanted to be accurate, the Canada Goose would also drop improbably large poops absolutely everywhere, but let’s not. The Canada Goose is the one Canadian export I could do without.

Money Mix-Up!

To really recreate the life of the millions of Canadians who live near the U.S. border, bring a piggy bank of Canadian coins and mix them up in everyone’s wallet (riddle me this: if Canada got rid of pennies in 2013, why do I have SO MANY CANADIAN PENNIES in my wallet always?).

The real games happens after the party when you find out which machines will and won’t accept your currency.

Cottage Invite Blitz

Please correct me if I’m wrong – and maybe this is totally just my experience – but I feel like everyone I’ve met from Ontario has a cottage, has a friend with a cottage, or just generally loves cottages.  But what to do if you haven’t nailed down a summer cottage invite?

In Cottage Invite Blitz, half of the players have a card that says I Have A Cottage and half say I Need A Cottage. The card is on your forehead and there is no peeking to see what you got. By talking to each other, players have to pair up – one player who has a cottage with one who needs one. The tricky part is rather than explicitly telling another player that they have a cottage or need one, you have to sort of indirectly work out the invitation in a friendly and polite way. Is the other player being nice to you because you have a cottage, or are they being nice to you because they are Canadian?

Canadian Or Not Canadian

You can either make a set of flashcards or use photos on your phone. Players must guess whether the celebrity pictured is Canadian or Not Canadian. A lot of modern celebrities may prove challenging: Ryans Reynolds and Gosling, Keanu Reeves, Seth Rogan, Joshua Jackson, Michael Cera… it’s a very, VERY long list, but you can make the game tricky by including Americans who seem kind of Canadian.

Canadian Spelling/ Vocab Bee

Canadian spelling: not really British, not really American. Have a fun spelling bee with the following words:

grey, travelling, colour, honour, neighbour,  axe, lincence, moustache, eh, anything with a ‘z’ in it because you’re out if you say zee instead of zed.

Or, have players provide the definitions to the following words in a vocab bee:

toque, chesterfield, loonie, toonie, poutine, double-double, and eh again (because it can mean so many things!)

Fill In Map Of Canada

Inspired by our map game in the American-themed party, have guests fill in the names of the provinces and territories on a blank map of Canada.

I thought I had it on lock because there are only 13, but I swear nobody ever told me there was a thing just called Northwest Territories. Sorry, Northwest Territories. Sorry that I called you The North Place.

Can You Say That In French?

In this elimination game, you make conversation as normal – but you have to repeat everything you say in French. The last person standing wins.

Dans ce jeu d’élimination, vous parlez normalement – sauf que vous devez répéter tout en français. La dernière personne qui reste gagne.

[I CLEARLY would not be the last person remaining. My apologies to the French language for that.]

Winter Wear Bonanza

In this pairs relay, the first player must run to the station, put on a selection of winter outerwear (scarf, hat, gloves, coat, earmuffs, etc), then run back to their partner, change out of the winter clothes and have their partner put them on. The partner then runs to the station and back. First team to finish wins.

 


Entertainment

On The Screen

My first thought was to just play all of the Anne Of Green Gables movies – and while I liked the new series, you know I mean the Megan Follows ones. Then I realized I was remiss in excluding Canadian fav Degrassi, both the O.G. ’80s series and the reboot staring Drake.

It’s also never wrong to air a hockey game, particularly a Hockey Night In Canada broadcast.

Particularly if you don’t speak French, it could be fun to play a soap opera from Quebec and fill in the dialogue yourself, a la that classic scene from Friends with the telenovela.

You can’t beat Canadian comedy, and if that’s more your speed you can tune in to The Kids In The Hall, SCTV (the Catherine O’Hara era is my personal favorite), The Red Green Show or Trailer Park Boys.

Finally, for a bit of childhood nostalgia, try The Elephant Show or You Can’t Do That On Television.

(You could also watch nothing because that is what is available on Canadian Netflix, and Hulu blocks your IP address on half of everything.)

In The Speakers

Just play The Tragically Hip the whole time.

Okay, fine. If you’d like to expand further you still may want to stick with a mix of musicians who are typically associated with Canada – even though there are excellent Canadian musicians of every genre. This means Drake, Alanis Morrissette, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion, the Barenaked Ladies, Justin Bieber, Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah McLachlan and Crash Test Dummies. Please include at least one play of Let’s Go To The Mall from How I Met Your Mother, as it is the only time the phrase “rock your body ’til Canada day” has appeared in music thus far.


Refreshments

Food
Maple Anything

Canadians don’t really eat wacky maple-flavored treats, but in keeping with the theme you can serve maple candy or some refreshing maple ice cream. You can even find maple mustard dip and maple jerky.

Ketchup Chips

It’s true: these are very hard, if not impossible to find in the U.S.A. If you live near Canada, swing up and grab a few bags for your bash. If you live IN Canada, can we get married so I can have health care? I’ll pay for the chips.

Poutine

Cheese. Gravy. Fries. Good.

Tim Hortons

Assuming you live someplace where there’s Tim Hortons, provide guests with an array of all the finest Timbits and a big box of hot coffee, with sugar and cream for the classic double-double. It’s probably not a Classic Canadian Icon but the iced cap is also legit.

Kraft Dinner

Yes, it’s the same as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but you have to call it Kraft Dinner.

Hickory Sticks

… I guess. Does anybody like these?

Nanaimo Bars, Beaver Tails and Butter Tarts

If you’re a good baker or can get to a Canadian bakery or cafe, these Canadian treats are must-haves, particularly if your guests haven’t had a chance to try them before.

Drinks
Canadian Beer

This might be a great time to try some delicious Canadian craft beer, but to keep your budget low and your party Canadian, maybe you should provide a standby like Molson or Labatt.

Canadian Mixed Drinks

I’ll defer to this MentalFloss piece, as well as my own memories of going across the border to drink as a 19-year-old. For liability reasons I should tell you that Canadian drinking ages only apply in Canada.

Screech is a real only-in-Canada rum, and of course I have to recommend anything using Canadian whisky.

I’m still never trying a Bloody Caesar, though. Blech.

Wine

If you run with more of a wine crowd, Niagara wines from Ontario are always a great bet. There are also some good selections from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Try an ice wine if you haven’t already.

Other

I have no idea. Canada Dry and Canadian Club?


Canadian Style

Decor

It’s kind of a no-brainer, but a lot of Canadian flags and maple leaf insignia would be a good way to go. You can also include hockey posters and memorabilia or tack up pictures of Canadian wildlife (a moose and a beaver, at least).

In our American-Themed party post, we suggested hanging up pictures of great Americans and having guests name as many as they can. That would work well for great Canadians as well. You can include everyone from Justin Trudeau to Wayne Gretzky, Margaret Atwood to Lucy Maud Montgomery.

If you don’t play the Fill In The Map game, you could hang up a large, blank map of Canada (oh Canada…) and have guests fill in the names of the provinces and territories, major cities, places they’ve been, or just draw snowflakes and moose and those goddamn geese everywhere.

Fashion

Canadians just dress like regular humans, but you can have some fun here. Clothes in Canadian colors or with the Canadian flag on it would be great – Roots even has a Canada 150 line. You could also dress as an inoffensive Canadian stereotype, which is probably just a person with warm clothing.

If you really want to go for it, I’d have each guest dress as a Canadian, past or present. You can have everything from Anne of Green Gables to Robin Sparkles. Guests can be a hockey player or a Tim Hortons cashier if they want to go more generic. For an ’80s vibe, you could dress as a classic Degrassi character, and more modern TV fans can reuse their Orphan Black cosplay from Halloween. Deep cut references include the girl in the Steal My Sunshine video from the 90s or a group costume as Sharon, Lois and Bram.

If full costumes are too much to ask, name tags can add a bit of Canadian fun – everyone can pick a Canadian name like Jim Carrey, Megan Follows, Don Cherry, or Gordon. Any Gordon.

 

 

 

Wedding Guest Drinking Game/ Scavenger Hunt

It’s August, but Wedding Season isn’t over yet … because with the growing popularity of fall weddings, wedding season stretches from May to early November, with an additional, tiny bump around Christmas time. I’m in my  late 20s now, and it has been over 10 years since I have had a wedding-free summer. After you’ve been around the bridal block a few times, you start to notice that from your swanky sit-down affairs to your afternoon backyard bashes, most weddings really do have a lot in common. And after you’ve been around the bridal block more than a few times … especially if you’re single …. especially if like me, you cannot envision having a WEDDING-wedding even if you get married … you start to feel like you need some sort of a game, goal, or mission to keep the events feeling fresh.

Ladies and gentlemen, to that end I give you the Cookies + Sangria Wedding Guest Drinking Game/ Scavenger Hunt. EXTRAVAGANZA! 2015. Or whatever year you’re reading this.

1 point (Scavenger Hunt) / 1 Sip (Drinking Game)
  • Mason Jars
  • Burlap
  • In the days before the wedding, you go through that internal struggle of whether it would make more sense for you to take a cab to the wedding or just limit your drinking to a glass or two of wine way at the beginning. [Obviously if you come out in favor of driving to the event, you’re playing the scavenger hunt, so get your notepad ready to tally those points!]
  • Jordan almonds
  • A grandma
  • A photo announcement for everyone from your alma mater
  • A bride is tanned or toned beyond recognition
  • A bride is keeping her birth name, the couple will be hyphenating their name, the groom is taking the bride’s name, the couple is adopting a new name, or a same-sex couple does literally ANYTHING with regards to surnames … but guests or officiants can’t or won’t accept it (cards with wrong name on it, announcement of Mr. and Mrs. Dude’sName, etc).
2 Points (Scavenger Hunt) / 1 swig (Drinking Game)
  • Wedding party in matching Converse
  • The unity candle won’t light
  • Flower girls strewing something other than flowers
  • You are handed bubbles for when the couple leaves the ceremony
  • A guest misses a key point in the wedding because they are doing something on their phone
  • The first dance song was also the first dance at another wedding you went to
  • Canon in D
  • Wedding March
  • You’re in a barn
  • The ring does not go on easily
  • There’s a wedding coordinator or photographer who would be well-suited to some sort of upper-level commanding military position
  • Bridesmaid or groomsman speech mentions a fraternity or sorority
5 points (Scavenger Hunt) / 1 gulp (Drinking Game)
  • Edison lights
  • A man in white athletic socks
  • Actual tin cans tied to the car
  • Dollar dance
  • The couple does that thing where they make sand art instead of lighting a unity candle
  • One of those signs that tells you to pick a seat, not a side
  • Chalkboards or chalkboard paint
  • “Love is patient, love is kind…” etc.
  • It’s a destination wedding (beach resort, cruise, etc) and a non-wedding guest crashes accidentally. Or on purpose.
  • The wedding party takes photos in an awkward location, or one totally unrelated to the couple or event. (NB: now that the “photojournalistic,” candid, “creative” photo style is in, I always see people taking pics in the park and bridge near where I work by people who have, based on things I’ve heard them say, basically never been downtown in my city before).
  • The wedding party does a jumping picture
10 points (Scavenger Hunt) / 2 gulps (Drinking Game)
  • Superfluous Scrabble tiles incorporated into the decor
  • Another wedding guest with your first name
  • Bird decor
  • A ring bearer or flower girl who is actually a baby who can’t walk yet
  • A whole-hearted bouquet toss enthusiast
  • A bouquet toss conscientious objector
  • Unzipped fly on a guest
  • Something that you, personally, would deem an obvious Pinterest Fail
  • Signature cocktail
  • Photo booth
  • A camera whore is very obviously angling to be in the reception candids
  • Anything Disney (cake topper, dress, anything)
  • The table assignments are something “clever” or Pinterest-based, like photos of the couple at whatever age the table number was, or all based on different locations.
20 Points (Scavenger Hunt) / Chug (Drinking Game)
  • The flower girl can’t or won’t flower girl
  • The priest or officiant says something awkward (for instance: at our friend’s wedding, the priest talked about how wonderful it was that we were all  together to consummate the marriage, then he drew even more attention to it by trying to rephrase it for the next minute)
  • A non-bridal party person in an updo (like UPDO updo. Tendrils, hairspray … baby’s breath?)
  • Someone does a honk-y nose blow during the ceremony
  • Elderly people in love
  • It’s a religious wedding and the sermon/speech/whatever is about wives submitting to husbands
  • Someone in the bathroom who needs a sewing kit
  • Someone in the bathroom who has a sewing kit
  • A groom makes some sort of performance art piece out removing the garter
  • The first dance was choreographed
  • You’re single, and someone awkwardly tries to set you up with another single guest (it’s like when you were 12 at your dad’s company picnic, and your parents tried to make you hang out with another kid because of the great uniting factor of you both being in seventh grade, even though that doesn’t mean you have anything else in common).
  • Self-written vows
  • Unzipped fly on a member of the wedding party
50 points (Scavenger Hunt) / Finish Your Drink (Drinking Game)

  • Hay bales are involved in any capacity
  • The entrances to the reception were choreographed
  • A bride has separate ceremony and reception dresses
  • RHYMING vows
  • They make you sit on the hay bales
  • A direction sign pointing the way to food, dancing, custom candy table, etc
  • Custom candy table
  • Two women in the same dress (not in the bridal party)]
  • There’s a theme. Not a color scheme, but a THEME. Like Civil War.
  • An unassuming person with surprisingly awesome dance moves
  • A non-bridesmaid who accidentally wore almost the same dress as the bridesmaids
  • There’s another couple with the same, or almost the same, wedding hashtag that weekend
  • Crying bride (happy tears)
  • Custom cake topper
  • Cake smash. You’re gonna need that drink.
  • An ex-spouse of the couple is present
100 points (Scavenger Hunt) / New Drink (Drinking Game)
  • A non-bride is wearing white (flower girl doesn’t count)
  • The couple’s pet(s) are involved in the ceremony
  • An awkward bouquet/ garter combo (relatives, exes, massive age gap … I have been avoiding the bouquet toss my whole life because even as a little kid I realized that hey, if I catch this thing I don’t want, a stranger is going to have to put an undergarment on my leg??)
  • Somebody has an objection during the ceremony
  • Crying bride (non-happy tears)
  • One of the spouses serenades the other
  • There’s choreography when the bridal party and couple go down the aisle.
  • Someone surprises the couple with a performance that they don’t know about.

 

There Are A Lot Of Reasons To Hate Surprise Parties

I’m not an April Fools’ Day person. Neither of us are. Wasting my time in the service of a joke that’s never even funny? No thanks. I’m also not a birthday person. I know this is aggravating, because I don’t want my loved ones to Sixteen Candles it and forget my birthday, but I also don’t want anyone to make a big fuss. This is actually more demanding than asking your friends to throw a straight-up bash, and for that I apologize. But you know what I don’t apologize for? Hating surprise parties, a.k.a. the birthday version of April Fools Day, a.k.a. the kind of parties they throw in hell. Seriously. When the devil has a birthday, John Wilkes Booth and freaking Hitler and like … is Genghis Khan something people still talk about?… all collude to get the devil to “meet his sister for brunch” so all his friends can leap out at him from the shadows. Screw surprise parties.

Surprise parties play into two of my biggest fears: people doing things without me, and people knowing things that I don’t. I’ve felt this way since I was a toddler. My mom used to make my siblings put on a mock-bedtime, saying their prayers and brushing their teeth, because I couldn’t go to sleep if I thought that everyone else was awake. Strike one: doing things without me. When I found out that everyone had been faking bedtime behind my back, I was livid. By the way, I found out when I was like 22. Strike two: knowing things I don’t.

I don’t even like when the animal kingdom tries to get the better of me. The other day I was walking my dog when we came across a flock of deer. As we passed not 20 feet away from them, the deer stood statue-still, hoping that we wouldn’t notice them. I could not let those deer think they had fooled me. I yelled “bye, deer!” after we passed them just so those animals knew damn well that I knew.

You ever know someone where your friends are like “you two should totally go out” or “we all know you’re going to end up together?” I will never let that happen, so strong is my aversion to people thinking they know my life.

And let’s talk about outfits. At least one day a week, I hate what I’m wearing by midday. That means that there is a solid one in seven chance that I would attend my own party wearing something I don’t even like. See? There are a lot of reasons to hate surprise parties.

Worst of all, all of your loved ones have to make a ruse of forgetting or not caring about a major life event, whether it’s a birthday, an engagement, or an anniversary. Two hours of being showered with love do not make up for weeks of thinking that everyone’s being a dick.

It wasn’t always like this. I was the victim of a surprise party when I was a kid, and I liked it.  It was a simple pool party at my aunt’s house, in late summer when I hadn’t seen some of my friends for months. My birthday was in September, so I never saw it coming. But even at 11 years old, I felt like such a putz. Having the wool pulled over your eyes isn’t better just because there’s confetti in the wool. My aunt didn’t really pick me up because she wanted me to go swimming at her house … I mean she did, she just wanted me to go swimming with cake and all of my best friends. Okay, I already admitted that my anti-surprise party stance is aggravating. And my mom didn’t ask who my best friends were because she cared, she asked because … she cared and wanted to invite them to a party to celebrate my birth. She’s a good mom, okay? But my outfit was still stupid.

Besides, I was a child then. As far as I’m concerned, big birthdays, as well as low-grade holidays like April Fools’ Day and Valentine’s Day, are for children. They just aren’t a good use of time. I mean, everybody was born once, it’s not that big a deal. Also, Surprise Parties are the party version of pranks, and you know how we feel about pranks: they’re jokes for unfunny people.

The worst is when you meet a family or friend group who do surprise parties for everything. Every time Ruth has a birthday or Margie has a baby, everyone pretends they aren’t doing anything for it, makes them go to some dumb fake outing, then – BAM! – they throw a party at them. And if you ask why they didn’t just tell Ruth or Margie that they were throwing a party,they’ll be like “oh, she’d say she doesn’t want it.”

YO. THAT’S BECAUSE RUTH DOESN’T WANT A PARTY, THEN. Respect that. There are a lot of reasons to hate surprise parties. I get it.

Always a New Year’s Eve Bridesmaid…

As we near the end of 2014 (WTF 2015 where did you come from), there’s a new trend we’ll probably be seeing more of as the time goes on, which is New Year’s Eve weddings. Will and Jada got married on NYE, Sharon and Ozzy tied the knot in 1982, and last year, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting got married in a pink Vera Wang dress to tennis pro Ryan Sweeting. And let’s face it, there are a bunch of people who hate or don’t care where they are when the clock strikes midnight, so it’s kind of brilliant to celebrate the new year with your friends and family in a celebrate of love and a new chapter in life.

Not to mention, if you’re in your 20s, you know that it’s the time when a lot of your friends (or you yourself) are getting married. We’re getting older, y’all. I’ve attended at least one wedding every year for the past five years, and been a bridesmaid in two. I love weddings. I love attending weddings, I love helping plan weddings, and I love being in weddings. For anyone that’s been a bridesmaid before, you know the risk you take in signing up – wearing a dress that isn’t flattering on your person/isn’t cute at all. Luckily, I’ve been #blessed that I haven’t run into that problem, but I’ve heard some horror stories. With that in mind, there’s a great other trend that’s happening, which is that you can now rent bridesmaids dresses online, and if you don’t think you’ll ever wear it again or it’s just not your style, you can easily return it. With companies like Weddington Way, you can even purchase the same design if you think you’ll use it in the future!

So say you’re a bride or bridesmaid helping your BFF out in picking dresses for the bridesmaids, what do you choose for this super cool NYE wedding? Here’s one of the rental options from Weddington Way, called the Audrey:

ww_bridesmaid

For more info click here!

Weddings can get super expensive, but if you want to rent a simple yet stylish dress like this one, you can rent it for just $75! Ballin on a budget, yo. This dress comes in different colors, but I picked the ‘Mint To Be’ (PUNS), because, hello, have your seen our logo? AND IT HAS POCKETS. POCKETS!

And since this hypothetical wedding is on New Year’s Eve, I wanted to pick color combos and accessories that reflect a fun, celebratory, yet romantic event in the winter:

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L to R: Mint, White, Glittery Rose Gold, Blush Pink, Ivory

When you think of NYE, you think of champagne and streamers and confetti and all around merriment. There’s a happy vibe in the air, and that’s why I chose light/bright colors and a pop of rose gold glitter to add a NYE feel. I’m all about the rose gold.

To complete the bridesmaid outfit, I used my color palate as inspiration for the rest of the style, as you’ll see below:

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{1} Weddington Way ♥ Audrey rental dress in Mint To Be ♥

{2} Manolo Blahnik ♥ Shiny Sequin Pump in Oro // Dying over these heels! You can definitely wear these more than once

{3} Faux Fur shawl // Maybe I’m thinking of a winter wonderland wedding or the Romanovs in a party setting, but I adore the idea of wearing a faux fur shawl to stay warm. It is NYE, after all.

{4} Camilla Christine for Etsy ♥ Rose Gold Wedding Belt // How gorgeous is this belt? And made by an artist on Etsy, so it’s even more impressive! This belt adds a pop of color next to the mint, so it’s not just a plain dress.

{5} Floral bouquet ♥ a mix of Juliet Garden roses, Sahara blue roses, brunia berries and sedum edged in dusty miller leaves // I think weddings should always have romance in the details, and that’s what I think this bouquet has in it – it’s fun and flirty yet made with love.

{6} KALAN by Suzanne Kalan ♥ Rose Gold Drop Earrings // For an elegant touch of rose gold

{7} Too Faced ♥ Natural at Night Neutral Eyeshadow Collection

Too Faced ♥ La Creme Color Drenched Lipstick in I Want Candy // The eyeshadow collection includes a rose gold shimmery color which is perfect to layer with the other neutral colors. I picked this raspberry color for the lips, to keep in the general color scheme. Also, I bought this particular lipstick in a different color a month or two ago and I’m obsessed with it. It doesn’t make your lips and dry and while you’ll have to apply once or twice during the day, the good thing is is that you don’t have to scrub it off your lips at the end of the night.

{8} Essie ♥ Penny Talk // This is technically an iridescent copper, but it’s more like a rose gold when dry. And it’s perfect.

And for good measure to round out your bash:

How To Throw An American-Themed Party

Nobody does a themed party like American college kids — except, that is, for Europeans parodying American college kids. Somehow I’d never heard of these star-spangled fetes until Buzzfeed featured them last week, but they’re pretty darn awesome:

They’re not just using solo cups, they ARE the solo cups:

For some reason, there are always buckets of popcorn, although I’ve only ever seen those at a movie theater:

And marshmallows on toothpicks because… actually, I have no idea here. Maybe they’ve heard of s’mores and are just getting the “marshmallow on a stick” interpretation a little wrong:

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#americanparty #altmanparty #redcup

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Finally, this bash from Poland is by far the best of all. Gold star, Poland. This is brilliant:

american party

So, you want to throw an American-themed party yourself? We can help! Whether you’ve never stepped foot in “the colonies” or whether you’ve lived here your whole life (which adds a whole other layer of hilarity to the proceedings), we have some tips:

Solo Cups

When people think American party, they think red plastic cups – typically called “Solo cups” stateside, after the most popular brand. There’s actually a reason for this: tv shows and movies avoid showing teens consuming alcohol, and even for adult parties, filmmakers may not want to show specific brands. Boom. Plastic cups – there could be anything in there! It doesn’t even have to be alcohol! (But it’s alcohol.)

In real life, these cups are pretty ubiquitous. There is an American country ode to the Red Solo Cup, so they’re as much a cultural institution as pickup trucks and barbeques. However, the cups also come in blue and yellow, so feel free to branch out a bit. If you have a keg or mixed drinks, you aren’t going to pour the bevs into a proper glass, at least not at a raging party where you’re going to drop it. But there’s an even more important reason that we all used these plastic cups in college….

Games

Drinking games. They have them everywhere, but some of them are as American as Uncle Sam eating a rocket pop on the Fourth of July. Play these responsibly – for liability purposes I should advise you to use water, juice, soda, or iced tea for these games. And plenty of them require solo cups:

  • Flip cup: Form two teams. The teams make lines facing each other. Everyone has an equal, small amount of “beverage” in their plastic cups. The first person in each line consumes the bev, places their cup upside down at the edge of the table, then must tip the cup up from the rim, flipping it over. The next person in line can’t go until the person before them has successfully flipped their cup, with it landing squarely back on its rim. First team to finish wins.
  • Knockout flip cup: same as above, but the losing team must vote to eliminate a member. (THOSE WHO FALL BEHIND GET LEFT BEHIND. AMERICA.  RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM. CAPITALISM. AYN RAND. Et cetera.)  The teams then face off again, and the losing team of that round eliminates a member as well. You keep going until one of the teams – the loser – has no members left.
  • Beer Pong: I’m not going to explain this. Just watch an American college movie. As with all of these games, this is played internationally as well, but your exposure to it will depend on where you live.
  • Civil War: Like beer pong, but with three 10-cup triangles across on each side, three balls in play, and three players on each team.  Any person with a ball can shoot at any time, except when there is a ball in a cup in the triangle in front of you – then you must drink the offending …. soda, or whatever … first. A person is “out” when all of the cups in front of them are gone. The first team to have all of their cups eliminated loses. If a ball falls alongside the table, the players can run for it and, if need be, fight for it. It gets hairy. [I went to college in New York, so I wonder if Southern college kids play this, but call it Beer Pong of Northern Aggression.]

There are also games that don’t require red plastic cups – instructions available online:

  • Kings
  • Never Have I Ever
  • Quarters

Name Tags

Okay, we don’t really wear name tags at parties in the U.S., but why not have name tags and let everyone pick an “American” name? If you are in your 20s or 30s, I suggest these common monickers:

  • Ladies: Jessica, Ashley, Katie, Sarah, Stephanie, Jenny, Nicole, Danielle, Melissa, Megan
  • Gentlemen: Jason, Matt, Mike, Nick, Chris, Dave, Dan, Ryan, Andrew, Jim

You can also pick names of patriotic figures from American history and culture of yesteryear:

  • Ladies: Betsy Ross, Martha Washington, Annie Oakley, Laura Ingalls, sorry we don’t have more ladies but we didn’t let them do stuff for those first few centuries, really.
  • Gentlemen: Uncle Sam, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Johnny Appleseed, Paul Bunyan, Paul Revere, Davy Crockett

Patriotic Recitation Contests or Mad Libs

There are some American songs and speeches that are known world-wide. You could have a contest to see who can come the closest to singing or reciting the correct words to the following. I guarantee that people’s misheard lyrics and wrong guesses will be hilarious:

  • The Star-Spangled Banner
  • God Bless America
  • The Pledge of Allegiance
  • The Gettysburg Address
  • America The Beautiful
  • America (also known as My Country ‘Tis Of Thee, this song cribs the melody of God Save The Queen. When I was trying to figure out what song was called “America”, my brain went to “A-mer-i-ca, my home and native land.” That was wrong. That is Canada’s national anthem, with the word America stuck in front. Sorry, Canada. Sorry, America.)

Or, you could try these super-American children’s and folk songs:

  • Yankee Doodle
  • Take Me Out To The Ballgame
  • I’ve Been Working On The Railroad
  • Oh My Darling Clementine
  • Skip To My Lou
  • Oh, Susannah
  • She’ll Be Coming ‘Round The Mountain
  • Polly Wolly Doodle

Yes, those are all real songs.

You could also do  “mad libs.” Print out a sheet with the lyrics to these songs, but with blanks in the place of some of the words. Then see what people come up with. The funniest entry wins.

Food

Here’s your big chance to find out why we Americans are so fat. We don’t actually eat most of these things at parties … but isn’t that exactly what you’d expect an American to say because we’re sensitive about being so fat? Here are some treats that just scream “USA! USA!”:

  • Hot dogs (or miniature hot dogs)
  • Hamburgers
  • Potato Chips
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Peanut Butter (any American who’s lived abroad and tried to get their hands on peanut butter knows how hard this can be to find! You could make small, party-sized PB&J sandwiches. The PB is peanut butter, and the J is jelly, by which we mean jam. The seedless grape variety is both the most traditional and, in my eyes, the most disgusting.)
  • Oreos and Milk
  • Rocket Pops (red, white and blue Popsicles. It’s not that we eat them often, but they always remind me of summer and Independence Day.)
  • Chili
  • Apple Pie (I don’t even like Apple Pie, and Americans eat far less apple pie than the phrase “American as apple pie” would suggest, but I’d be remiss to leave it off the list.)
  • Boxed Macaroni & Cheese
  • S’mores, if you have some sort of fire situation handy. You can make them in the microwave, but it’s not the same.

Movies

SO MAJESTIC.

I think we should all give a big round of applause to our pals in Poland for their selection, Pocahontas. Truly inspired. Here are some other red, white, and blue gems to play in the background of your party:

  • Baseball Movies: A League Of Their Own, Field Of Dreams, The Sandlot, Bull Durham, Bad News Bears, Angels In The Outfield
  • Iconic American Childhood films: Stand By Me, Now And Then, Little Women, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Little Rascals, Matilda (YES. YES, WE KNOW. But the movie was set in the ol’ U.S. of A.), My Girl, The Parent Trap (because maybe you’d feel more comfortable if half of the action is in London), Space Jam, Home Alone
  • Teen Fare: Grease, Clueless, Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 10 Things I Hate About You
  • Patriotic Stuff With Wars In It: The Patriot, 1776, Gettysburg, Glory, Gone With The Wind, Saving Private Ryan, Flags Of Our Fathers
  • The Most American Movie of all: Forrest Gump, obviously. Or basically anything with Tom Hanks in it. Tom Hanks freakin’ loves America.
  • Tom Cruise movies: Top Gun, Mission: Impossible, Jerry Maguire, Risky Business
  • Will Smith movies: Men In Black, Independence Day
  • Westerns: The only person I know who watches Westerns in earnest is my dad, so I’m afraid I can’t help you there. He’d probably recommend stuff with John Wayne in it.

Drink

If it’s supposed to be like an American college party, you can try to get your hands on these cold, brewed fonts of liquid disappointment:

  • Keystone Lite
  • Milwaukee’s Best – The beer so bad that you’re like “Milwaukee. What the heck are you doing?” And the name of the beer, itself, responds “Ugh… My best.” Milwaukee is just doing its best, guys.
  • Busch Light
  • Natty Ice – I think the full name is Natural Ice but I don’t even know.
  • Pabst Blue Ribbon

Or, you could try these non-alcoholic American favorites:

  • Kool-Aid
  • Lemonade (it’s different from European lemonade!)
  • Iced tea
  • Sweet tea
  • Actual tea, but made incorrectly, according to everyone in the UK.
  • Soda (BECAUSE WE’RE FAT. We understand.)

You could also look up American mixed drink recipes, of course.

Wardrobe

Okay, a lot of you are onto it, in a stereotypical way anyway: plaid, jerseys, baseball caps. But let’s get a little more particular:

  • The American Hipster: Facial hair (for men), bangs (for women), skinny jeans, an undersized plaid shirt, Converse
  • The Super-Fan: T-shirt, sweatshirt, and hat for various professional or college sports teams
  • The South-Western Classic: Plaid shirt, jeans, cowboy boots, cowboy hat. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone wear this in real life. Maybe at a country concert?
  • The Duggar: A long denim skirt or jumper, very buttoned-up top, clunky ugly shoes, permed hair.
  • The Person Of Wal-Mart: Pajama pants as pants, a large t-shirt featuring a cartoon character (ideally Tweety or Betty Boop) saying something “sassy”, or emblazoned with some other sort of “sassy” saying that’s not all-the-way funny, like “My Boyfriend’s Out of Town!” and then a picture of a kitten, sneakers.
  • The American Tourist: a camera, a fanny pack (yes, we know about that also), oversized sneakers
  • The Face of Yesteryear: Dress like a pilgrim, or an old-timey pioneer
  • The Jingoist: Wear a lot of red, white, and blue. Like, a whole lot.

The Decor

Well, Red, White and Blue, obviously. Because America. But you could make the decor into a game, too!

  • Print out pictures of the American presidents, number them, and tape them to the walls. Each person has a sheet of paper and they write the name of the president that corresponds with each numbered picture. The person with the most correct wins.
  • Same as above, but print out pictures of different American figures, landmarks, and items. For example, things like sports team logos, professional actors, the Statue of Liberty, covered wagons, the St. Louis Arch, Lucille Ball … Google is your friend, here.
  • Print multiple large non-labelled maps of the United States – or one very big map. Provide markers. Let guests label the different states or regions of the U.S. as best they can. Evidence shows that this will be very funny:

    SQUARESIES.

    MIDDLESHIRE. GUNS. Europe’s got jokes. Honestly just go look at all of these.

You can make Americans label maps of other lands. They won’t be good at it. For instance, Just last week my nephew and I were looking at a map of Canada, and he asked me where New Mexico was.  I said “Charley, New Mexico’s part of the United States.”

“Yeah,” the kid deadpanned, “But so’s Canada.”

American Party Archetypes

The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party – Cecily Strong. Look up the vids, non-Americans!

Most American college parties have the following people present. Please do try to invite them:

  • One drunk girl who is crying, accompanied by one friend who is trying to find out what the problem is.
  • Another friend of those girls who is saying something like “enough of this drama, I just want to dance.”
  • A guy who corners you with his “wit” and “sense of humor,” which actually means that he is quoting lines from comedy films of the past 10 years.
  • The couple who only talks to each other so why did they even bother leaving their house.
  • A person who is looking at or typing into their phone the entire time, even when speaking with you.
  • The person who takes unflattering photos of everyone and threatens to post them on social media.

Music

We already made a playlist of Fourth of July tunes, but there are some genres to consider:

  • Country. Of course. Just be aware that back in the Myspace days, when people used to write what genre of music they were interested in, about 50% of people simply wrote “anything but country” – so it’s not a clear-cut American favorite.
  • Rap. Yes, we know that other countries have rappers. It’s very cute.
  • Old-school 60s Doo-Wop and Motown.
  • Modern indie-folk-country.
  • American icons: James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, etc.
  • Jazz. Not your typical party music, but it started here first.

Have a great American-themed party! If it goes well – or very, very poorly – send us a link to the pictures. AMERICA FOREVER.

Surviving Selling Things Parties: Avon Ladies, Mary Kay Girls, and Me

English: Screenshot taken from the video link ...

Over the past month, I have been invited to four Selling Things Parties. For the uninitiated, during these gatherings, a woman of child-bearing age will present wares, provide complimentary food and drink, and then collect orders for these goods. But don’t be fooled! The goal is not to buy things, but to “get together, have a glass of wine, and look at some great (shoes/makeup/spinach artichoke dip).”[1] What follows is a confusing and – dare I say – convoluted exchange, with the wares being shipped to the seller, who then distributes them, and I think that nobody writes a check until the goods are delivered, but how should I know?[2] All I’m sure of is, somebody probably has to pay for these things, and there is a catalog, and there are snacks.

​Until I was 16 or so, I thought that these parties only existed in works of fiction set in the Mid-West. This is because you are either from a selling things family, or you are not. I absolutely am not. This is probably because the ladies in my family are stunted in our abilities to exclaim over retail items. At wedding and baby showers, we are the ones making compliments that are so painfully specific that they sound like insults: “that is the reddest onesie I’ve seen yet today!”; “Look at that, Marguerite! All of the plates from your china pattern are round!”; “You WILL have a baby, Greta, and he will sit upright in this blue foam chair!”.

​I also think that you are supposed to buy the samples upfront if you’re throwing a Selling Things Party. I don’t like spending money without a guarantee of a return, so I’d have to sell things I already own. I do not know a roomful of ladies who would like to buy my old law school textbooks, but if anyone wants to read about the state of international human rights law through 2009, shoot me a line! [Spoiler alert: TREATIES!]. I also worry that I would spend so much on hors d’euvers that I wouldn’t break even, or worse, that other people would eat all of the good ones if I bought too little. These are very real concerns.

​This is not to say that I think I’m better than ladies who throw Selling Things Parties. If anything, they possess a degree of initiative and a collection of appetizer recipes that I admire.[3] An all-American, homespun capitalism is in these peddlers’ blood, like red hair and a surprisingly low white blood cell count are in mine. These gals were probably raised playing in the other room while their mothers and aunts served fondue and sold Tupperware, whereas I was raised making my own snacks and buying things in stores.

​So, if you are invited to a Selling Things Party, don’t fret. You don’t have to buy anything.[4] If you like shopping, socializing, and Buffalo Wing Dip, you might want to give it a try. But don’t expect to throw a successful Selling Things Party yourself if you weren’t raised with it: like landed gentry and psychics, Selling Things Party Ladies are born, not made. Or rather, they are made, but that is because they are carefully formed in their early years, like bonsai trees and Romanian gymnasts.

1. TM: Every Facebook invite to every selling things party, ever. BACK TO POST
2. I wonder if, in the selling things party context, submitting the order form constitutes the offer, and sending the good is acceptance? For a fascinating study of offer and acceptance in the catalog/advertising context, ​ see Leonard v. PepsiCo Inc, 88 F.Supp.2d 116 (S.D.N.Y. 1999).BACK TO POST
3. Really, these parties are usually okay. My lovely sister-in-law sells Avon, and her relatives throw Selling Things Parties, too. There is always good food, interesting products, and a refreshing lack of retail mark-up. I’m far too lazy and inhospitable to become an Avon lady myself, but I love having a source for really good and cheap cosmetics and gifts! OK, done. BACK TO POST
4. But actually, you do. BACK TO POST