Feed on

Matt and I have a tradition of about four years running of hosting a half-assed New Year’s Eve party. After a week or so of intense family socialization, we’re always ready to catch up and relax with our peers and their kids. The problem is, we’re too beat/lazy by this point to do it right. Thus, a tradition was borne: host a party with the least amount of effort and preparation.

I can’t even tell you what we did the first year. I think we had Dave, Lisa, and Sophie over and ordered dinner out. Was there more? If so, it was too half-assed to remember. The next year, our friends Sharon, George, and Leah joined us. We still ordered out, but I might have baked dessert. That was the year we most overbought alcohol, too. Adults with kids who need to leave by nine or so just don’t imbibe like their younger, childless selves.

This year, though, I think we reached new heights of half-assedness. Abandoning all pretense of cooking, I bought a ton of appetizers at Trader Joe’s. Matt and Simon bought booze and then headed over to Caufields for silly party favors. We invited over four couples and their kids. Then we spent the entire morning watching English Premier League Football (Soccer), figuring we had the entire day to accomplish very little. And then, heaven help us, Matt remembered that Mike and Melinda, our good friends from Hungary, were coming to visit.

Well, friends take precedence over half-assed party preparations, so we chatted at the house, went out for coffee, and thoroughly enjoyed our visit, only to find ourselves back at the house at 4:30, pretty sure that company was arriving in as few as 30 minutes (We didn’t tell everyone the same time as it happens. Again with being half-assed.) Our house was mostly picked up, but we needed to vacuum, put a leaf in the dining room table, clean the bathrooms, dust if possible, set out dishes, empty the dishwasher, and take out garbage. Also? Matt needed to shower.

Even for us this was a poor showing. But the thing about our half-assed New Year’s party is that somehow, someway, it always, always comes together. This year was no different. Company didn’t show up until 6:00—thank goodness!—the favors got laid out, the table was set, music put on, and food trays loaded into the oven. And yes, the bathrooms got cleaned and Matt took his shower. There was a wobbly moment when we realized that our chosen take-out restaurant was closed, but we recovered adequately from that one.

For four blissful hours, the adults chatted, laughed, munched and drank, while the kids ran and played throughout the house, made multiple trips up to our attic, and danced in the living room. Other than to feed them, we never once had to intervene or chaperone the goings on, such a compatible group it was. Most amazingly, we managed to keep them all up about two hours past their regular bedtimes with no one suffering an exhaustion-fueled melt-down. They loved the hats, horns, and necklaces Matt and Simon picked out, too; I saw the girls come down to switch back and forth from tiaras to party hats several times, and all went home with their fancy 2012 necklaces.

It brings to mind good times when I was much younger: specifically of holiday grading parties when I was a grad student in Michigan and a full Thanksgiving dinner served on the floor of a friend’s shared house in England (they didn’t have a large enough table in the house; in fact, only the hall was big enough to fit everyone.) when I was an undergrad. Those parties remind me that while there is a place for carefully crafted food, beautiful decorations, and thoughtful party planning, that there’s also a place for lazy, low-key entertaining when everyone is shot but would nonetheless like to get together.

Our half-assed New Year’s Eve party doesn’t come from the pages of Southern Living, but it’s comfortable and convivial. And really, there’s nothing half-assed about that.

Happy New Year.

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