Corporate blowouts of yore have given way to mildly festive, just-as-awkward after-work "drinks." Hosting friends and family usually equates to a slow-build of stress that bursts into a flurry of activity and then leaves you with endless cleanup.
So because you can't (or shouldn't) Scrooge your way through the holidays by denying every invitation, it's better to adjust your perspective. Instead of simply showing up, show up with a plan.
Specifically, these plans.
At the Office Party
These things are complicated. You have to show face, even though you've showed face all day at work and you're likely stressed and quite frankly sick of these people, but it's the holidays so oooooooookay.
To navigate the situation best, follow the advice of Patrick Janelle. He's the creator of the cocktail app The Liquor Cabinet, so he knows booze. He's also the creator of @AGuyNamedPatrick , an Instagram account dedicated to travel, style, and all things debonair, so he knows classy.
What to wear: The velvet blazer
Its classic, cool, and says holiday, not HOLIDAY. You can have it in your work bag for the day and throw it over your oxford shirt for the evening, Janelle says.
What to order: The amaro spritz
Good bartenders know how to mix one, but just in case, ask for a 3:2:1 mix of sparkling wine, amaro, and soda water. Its low ABV yet complex.
How to converse: The figure at least eight
Chat with at least eight people you dont often talk to. Its best to ask about highlights of their year. Vacations. Movies. Books.
At the House Party
These things are less complicated, but still have their hassles. You're going to have a ton of people at your house, which means that you're going to have to keep them with things other than them secretly going through your medicine cabinet.
The food and the music are essential. Go with the traditional on either and you're throwing just another holiday party with the same stressors attached.
If you can downscale, however, you'll not only surprise and delight your guests, but yourself too.
What to serve: Simplicity
Jonathon Sawyer , the James Beard Awardwinning chef of Sawyers in Cleveland, serves up some simple options to feed your friends.
Balsamic Salami Bites
1 hearty whole-wheat cracker + 1 thin slice high-end salumi + 1 slice plum + drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar
Ham and Greens
1 thin slice jamn ibrico + 1 wedge green melon + 1 mint leaf + 1 toothpick
Burrata Olive Toast
1 grilled baguette slice + 1 schmear burrata + 2 tsp finely chopped Kalamata olives + a few chopped chives
What to play: A schlock-free prepared (yet cultivated) playlist
Because one listen of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" is too many listens of "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas," create a tasteful soundtrack with the help of DJ Michael, the music supervisor for Ace Hotels. Or, better yet, just stream it on Spotify.