From hands-free flirting to unisex toilets, the new party rules in the era of Weinstein, #MeToo and millennials
We're into the final stretch of party season, but this year is different from previous ones. These festive bashes are occurring in the wake of the Weinstein allegations and #MeToo and come hot on the heels of some police advice about mistletoe that made you wonder whether a countrywide party ban might not be easier.
Suddenly, the whole deal is a minefield of potential misunderstandings, if not lawsuits.
The New Year's Eve do brings all the usual dilemmas, plus the added social pressures of making your year end with a bang.
So, in the interests of clarifying what is and isn't expected, here are the New Party Rules for 2017.
Kissing under the mistletoe
Let's get this one out of the way. In a tweet earlier this month, the Police Service of Northern Ireland advised: "If you bump into that special someone under the mistletoe tonight, remember that without consent it is rape #SeasonsGreetings."
Unsurprisingly, the remark prompted a bit of a backlash online, with some criticising the PSNI for "trivialising" sexual assault. The tweet was hastily deleted, but for some, the concern remains.
Slimeball uncles loitering under the mistletoe are a downer but does this actually happen, now that it's no longer 1974? And if it does, can't someone accidentally pour eggnog down the front of their trousers? In our experience, mistletoe coercion is not A Thing.
No longer acceptable: Demanding a kiss for access to the loos.
Previously compulsory, even if you were giving a presentation at 8.30am the following day. Now there will be plenty of non-drinkers at any party and there must be non-alcoholic drink options (and we're not talking about leaving a bottle of lemon barley water by the kitchen sink).
That said, it is still normal, some would say essential, for some people to be drinking as if it were New Year's Eve at Ronnie Wood's in his hey day, and a lot more people getting attractively tipsy - as in determined to meet everyone, dance, DJ and demonstrate the Heimlich manoeuvre at the same time. (Note: If this is the objective, a White Lady, see above, will do that in 11 minutes flat.)
No longer acceptable: Telling people to "have a shot and stop being such a big girl's blouse".
Things you are expected to provide
We all have unisex loos in our homes (though in ours there is strong pressure on the males to stay out of the one near our bedroom), so that's that sorted. You will also need a non-alcoholic cocktail option; some vegetarian canapes (or non-veg ones with the chorizo scraped off); a smoking area by the back door, ideally with a couple of chairs; and a first aid kit, if not a defibrillator.
No longer acceptable: Smoking indoors. Also getting the person who has passed out to breathe on a mirror. It takes too long and often the mirror ends up getting broken.
What you need to put away, if having this party at home
The zebra skin (forget the fact it's sustainable, you will be explaining that to the millennials all night); the Gary Glitter greatest hits collection; the ozone-destroying log burner (if applicable); the photograph of you taken with Dustin Hoffman in 1983 (for example).
No longer acceptable: Not having a recycling system.
What to wear
The new rule is: Seriously Really Flexible. You could wear jeans and a party top; you could wear a denim jacket or a cocktail dress.
You will probably end up wearing what you always do, but will feel more uncertain walking into the party, and with good reason.
No longer acceptable: Swapping clothes with the opposite sex in the loos. Just doesn't have the shock factor it used to.
Coming home to the millennials
In previous years, you came back from a party, crashed around, opened another bottle, and put on some Earth, Wind and Fire.
Now, they have occupied the moral high ground and you need to watch out. They're faintly disapproving, possibly working harder than you, keen on their sleep, more organised in the mornings, and don't have time for the "I've lost my keys..." meltdown.
No longer acceptable: Waking them up at 3am to ask if they have any cigarettes.
Bairbre Power is away