Let the party begin!

Let the party begin!

Girl in pink: I can't go, yaar.
Girl in orange: Well, how many parties will you avoid? It's best not to make such a huge deal out of it and just go with the flow.
Guy in black: I agree. What's the worst that can happen? You'll get drunk and make a scene. At least, we'll have something to remember from that dull party!

The conversation continued for the next 20 minutes, interspersed with guffaws and gags. Although my intention wasn't to eavesdrop, sitting at the adjacent table in the café, I couldn't help but empathise with the many travails of the party season. Perhaps, I should have walked up to the girl in pink (who had a breakup, I guess) and said, "You're not alone in this struggle. This party too shall pass."
That didn't happen. So, here I am, sharing pearls of wisdom on how not to get bogged down by the revelries, how to dodge party faux pas, and present your best 'social etiquette self' this season. From weddings and work gatherings to family get-togethers and year-end celebrations, this annual period signifies the best of times and the worst of times. Whether you are a social butterfly, reluctant partygoer, or simply a restless soul, the secret to enduring - and enjoying - this time of year is to keep calm and be armed with a strategy to deal with the different kind of folks that make parties so very interesting. We've identified the top eight to help you get started:

The socially anxious

Remember Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali (or Raj) from the hit television sitcom The Big Bang Theory? Or his girlfriend Lucy? While the man can't speak around women, without using alcohol as a social lubricant, the lady often finds herself leaving dates abruptly. They are classic cases of social anxiety syndrome.
The best way to deal with such folks is not to add to their discomfort with unsolicited attention; just let them be. In case, you are the one suffering from the syndrome, set yourself a time limit of, say, two hours at the party. "That way, you'll feel more in control of the situation," reasons Neha Jain, a self-confessed social misfit, who makes the effort to talk to at least two new people at a party.

The conversation hoggers

They have an opinion on everything and believe that it's their birthright to voice them. At parties, these conversation hoggers can be a real nuisance, butting into every discussion with their strong (often ill-informed and prejudiced) views.
As a rule, it helps to keep the conversation light at parties. Even if it's an office get-together, you don't want to talk shop. Leave out the professional grumbles, office gossip, and politics. Master the art of small talk. Spend 10-15 minutes with as many guests as possible. Stuck with a conversation hogger? Politely excuse yourself to answer nature's call.

The 'mannerless' types

Followers of Bollywood trivia would know of the recent fallout between director Farah Khan and comedian Kapil Sharma. The reason? A "janta invite" to the actor's latest film screening sent via WhatsApp. "The least you can do is make a personal call," she fumed, in a tweet addressed to "dear mannerless people".
Depending on the occasion, it's acceptable to send an email invite or printed invitation to the party. A personal call from the host is, certainly, appreciated. And for guests, it's a good practice to RSVP (acronym for something in French translated as 'Respond If You Please') within two days. Imagine hosting a party, not knowing how many people will turn up!

The not-so-pleasant folks

"Every party has nasty people - the nosy aunt, the sadistic associate, the bitter ex…I say a silent prayer before every dreaded encounter," quips Tushar Roy, an entrepreneur, who loves to socialise.
What you cannot cure, you must endure, said a wise soul. So, the best strategy, according to Tushar, is to play nice. "Approach them with your warmest smile and initiate the conversation. Stick to safe topics, preferably about them. And remember to keep it short," says the fan of psychology thrillers. Now, that's a googly worth trying!

The food fussers

Ever been to a party where no one fusses over calories? Or, the texture and flavour of some random dish? What about those food pushers, who simply refuse to take 'no' for an answer?
Well, what's a party without food! And some smart navigation around touchy cuisine issues. If you are on a diet, walk around with food on your plate (you don't have to eat it all). Stuck with a wannabe gourmet expert? Encourage him to try that delicious dip tucked away in the corner of the room. And finally, it's easiest to just take a bite of whatever the food pusher is offering. At a house party, perhaps, you could ask him to pack some of the goodies for home.

The time offenders

"You know who the most annoying guests are? The ones who turn up early to help with the preparations," says Charlotte Menezes, popular among family and friends for her lavish Christmas bash. A close second are those who refuse to leave, even as the glasses and plates are being cleared!
As a host, allowances need to be made  - for the traffic, the lethargy, and endemic unpunctuality. "Even then, it's rude to be more than 15-30 minutes late, especially for a sit-down meal. Inform the host if you are running late, or unable to attend due to some unavoidable circumstances. And under no circumstances, should one overstay his welcome," opines Charlotte.

The 'high' society

They are my personal favourites. The ones who have a drink too many and make complete fools of themselves. In the best case scenario, they are entertaining. Once an ex-boss overestimated his alcohol capacity and ended up puking on a colleague! Understandably, she wasn't amused.
The rule of the thumb is to pace your drinks. Just because you aren't paying for it, don't overindulge. You are likely to say or do something you will regret. Wondering what to do with the drunk guest? Get him a cab home.

The phone addicts

In the age of social media, we are guilty of spending way too much time with our phones. Even at parties, we struggle to disconnect from the virtual world, constantly seeking updates and updating our timelines.
Maybe, cell phones should be banned at parties. How else do we go back to having regular conversations in the real world? Also, before you post pictures online - whether from an office party or family celebration - it's always good to ask the concerned people. Because not everything is for public consumption.


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