Welcome to For Your Consideration, a new series about things we love and love to do — and we’d like to give you permission to embrace your authentic self and love them too.
Gather ye round, folks! We’re throwing a party! Not just any party! A themed party. If you must know, there actually is no other kind of party in my book. A party without a theme is like a cheese plate without Port Salut — what’s the fucking point! Why are we throwing an elaborate themed party, you ask? Because my life is — say it with me! — Falling! Apart! This is what I do in dire times. I throw a highly specific themed party.
There was the time when I threw a Winona Ryder-themed party. It was a housewarming for the apartment I moved into with two of my close college friends during that year I was very depressed and also very single despite very much wanting to be neither of those things. The apartment was on Winona Street in Chicago, and within hours of moving in, one of my housemates had already spelled out Winona 4evr with alphabet magnets above our stove. A Winona Ryder-themed housewarming seemed inevitable.
When you host a party, you have control. You can tell people what they’re supposed to wear and bring and set the rules for the evening. It provides that same sense of God-like dominance that makes playing the Sims so appealing. But it’s even better, because it’s real life!
For the Winona party, I instructed everyone to dress as a Winona Ryder character or another character from a Winona movie or in an outfit that evoked a particular era of Winona Ryder. There were rules beyond the costumes, too. Every room in our apartment had a sub-theme and specific activity — like my bedroom, which was dedicated to that one episode of Friends where Winona plays a sorority sister of Rachel who was also in love with her. I turned the bulletin board that usually contained my to-do lists and photostrips of my friends into a game of pin-the-lips-on-Rachel-Green. It was a very good game. It was also an elaborate way for me to figure out which girls in my improv class were gay.
At my first apartment in Brooklyn, I threw a Drew Barrymore-themed housewarming party. I spent the week leading up to it coming up with DB-related puns to call the sangria punch I would be serving (50 First Grapes, Charlie’s Angels: Full Bottle, Juice Berrymore, Fever Pitcher, Grape Gardens, Drunk Barrymore). It was a fun little distraction from the fact that I did not want to move into this apartment with these people in the first place. The party was a hit, even though I ended up crying about nothing and everything at the end of it. Do you ever think about how “it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” are the greatest lyrics ever written?
Every time I’ve moved away from a city that rudely broke my heart, I’ve thrown a goodbyetoyou-michellebranch.mp3-themed karaoke party, which always feels like the perfect amount of of “early aughts power ballad” sadness. If New York continues to be as unbearable as it has been, maybe there’s another one of those in my future.
Last fall, I decided I would host a Riverdale-themed murder mystery party and took on the ambitious task of writing the murder mystery game myself. I even had little Blossom Maple Syrup labels printed for little bottles of maple syrup and started coming up with potential maple syrup cocktail recipes. I picked April 2018 as an arbitrary time for the party and even texted friends in other cities to start thinking about making a trip to NYC in the spring for what I was certain would be the party of a century. I didn’t know that April 2018 would be the month my life splintered. The long lost Riverdale murder mystery party is the only party I’ve planned that never came to fruition. I’m not sure it ever will.
So it is time to plan a new highly specific themed party, one that doesn’t come with too much emotional baggage, one that can distract me from the myriad ways my life has changed against my will in the past several months. I’m ready to pour myself into party planning with the tunnel-visioned gusto of Clarissa Dalloway buying flowers and ignoring her problems. (Oh shit, should I throw a The Hours-themed party? Is that too depressing or just the right amount of depressing?)
I’ll make the guest list and spend too much time workshopping the theme! I’ll come up with games! Cocktails! A clever description for the Facebook event! I know how to throw a damn good party. I learned from the best, my mother has thrown elaborate parties my entire life. Her annual soup party is a party where you dress up and eat several kinds of soup. It’s a hot ticket social event in suburban Virginia. I really shook things up the year I brought a girl as a date. Yes, queering the annual soup party is definitely my legacy.
Here’s a secret: The best parties actually have no occasion attached. There’s too much pressure when it comes to birthdays, holidays and milestones. Throwing a party just for the sake of throwing a party is a power move. Let’s party about nothing and everything!