Do you have Christmas party fear?
Oh God. Look away now if you are gearing up to the party season with a spring in your step. I find the number one sign of being older than 45 is starting to fear the party season. Party Fear – not to be confused with party fatigue, or peak party, or not knowing which party to go to first and which last (As If) – is peculiar to a certain demographic. That is: people who have always liked a party (part of the problem – there are expectations), but who, these days, have proper responsibilities, and hangovers that a bacon butty will not solve.
We worry that we aren’t getting invited to enough parties – and then we set off to parties with fear in our hearts. Here’s why:
You never know what you are going to find
In the old days, you knew. A cheese and cocktail-onion hedgehog and lots of under-16s. People in jeans and boots and jumpers. People in sparkly swag and burgundy velvet. Fag ends in bottles. Cocktails on trays. My point is: what do you wear? Are you going to get fed? What’s the form, roughly? No one knows.
We have to get up in the morning
This has ever been the case but, pre-austerity, we used to have those jobs that allowed us occasionally to disguise a fantastic hangover with some light filing – or staring at our computer screen while chewing Solpadeine.
Now, even during December (which hitherto was earmarked as zero productivity, liver caning month), we are expected to be Doing Our Jobs. You can’t do your job if you were at a party the night before unless you are teetotal and left at 10.30. (Even then, my abstinent friends tell me that just being in a crowded, noisy room, wearing heels and listening to people repeat themselves, gives you a sort of hangover.)
The hangovers are so much worse
We are older (less robust), and there are many people who still do not think twice about serving paint stripper disguised as gluhwein. Ten years ago, you bounced back from a socially sanctioned mass poisoning with the aid of Coca-Cola and buns; now it’s utterly flooring.
Party Fear is roughly 65 per cent fear of what the booze will do to you, regardless of how much you drink. You are flying blind, entrusting your hosts with your fitness to perform for the rest of the week. Are they worthy of this trust? Rarely.
What to wear
The what-to-wear problem gets worse by the year.
1) Your options are diminishing. 2) Who knows what the hell to wear to a Christmas party any more? And you must do something because you’re at that age when just turning up on your bicycle, sparkly-eyed and pink-cheeked, is nothing like enough.
Your party speed is stuck on warp
You can’t do parties like Anna Wintour (in and out smile and wave). You can’t do two drinks and then strictly fizzy water. It has never happened because you only have two speeds: at home watching TV or I am the God of Fun. And, at this time of year especially, it just seems rude to hardly drink anything and leave at a sensible time. It’s Christmas! They made an effort and bought a ham and a chunk of cheese. What the hell. You must at least stay and dance to Odyssey for a bit.
Parties are more nerve wracking
Not everyone is in the “what happens at the party stays at the party” mindset. There could be anyone at this party: your boss. Someone who could be your boss in future. Your partner’s ex. People panic now when they throw a party and ask everyone they have ever heard of, so you’re not safely cocooned within your circle of trust.
Is it any wonder we’re scared?
The Telegraph, London
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