Schmoozing, not boozing |

Schmoozing, not boozing

Alison Berkley

Aspen, CO ColoradoI don’t know about you, but I’ve been to a holiday party almost every night for the last two weeks. I think I’m getting pretty good at it.Last week I was at one of those smaller office party affairs. A very prominent architectural firm had rented a space in one of our hipper hotels for an intimate dinner followed by a cocktail reception that had the place packed with “clients” (i.e. dirt bag friends of employees like myself cashing in on free drinks).After dinner, they did one of those Secret Santa type deals where everyone brought gifts that were then randomly distributed by drawing a number out of a hat. I watched my friend Tom excitedly open the biggest box in the pile while everyone watched on, envious of his luck. He licked his lips and tore off the paper like the little kid who begged Santa for a B-B gun (“You’ll shoot your eye out!”), convinced his wishes were about to be granted. Everyone’s faces lit up and people cheered as Tom held the waffle maker in his lap.”He doesn’t like sweets,” I whispered to the person sitting next to me. “He doesn’t even want that.” I wagered a bet that he’d figure out a way to trade the coveted waffle maker for the top-shelf bottle of tequila that his coworker with the newborn baby probably didn’t want. Five minutes later, he clutched the oval-shaped bottle to his chest, grinning ear to ear. The Big Boss Man ended up with a silver blow-up teddy bear. Needless to say, he was none too pleased that no one wanted to trade with him. I have no idea what he’s expected to do with that bear, especially since it had no holes in it as far as I could tell.Getting the right gift is only part of the holiday party equation (Note to self: stay away from any gift that has air in it). Here are a few other tips that might be helpful:FoodI’ve noticed most these cocktail soirees always run during dinner hours – early enough that you don’t have time to eat beforehand, and late enough that you’re probably going to be puking in the back alley long before you make it to New York Pizza. That little plate of raw veggies and a few bite-sized appetizers are not going to do much to absorb all that free alcohol you’re about to drink. My favorite thing about the Jewish tradition is no matter what the occasion, there’s always plenty of food to eat (food with calories, that is). If we want to be all blue blood about this, the least we could do is push cocktail hour up to a reasonable hour lest little girls like me die of alcohol poisoning before 9. There are so few of us girls in this town as it is – the least you could do is feed us.DressI can’t even tell you how many “What am I going to wear?” cries I’ve heard over the last couple weeks, but it’s really quite simple. Guys: those cotton Dockers you managed to hold onto since high school do not count as “slacks.” You’re better off throwing on a slick blazer with those jeans you bought in the last decade. And FYI, “shoes” are not sneakers or some version of a hiking boot. Girls: as much as we try to fight it, jeans are also our standard uniform, which means all you have to do is find a fabulous top and some sexy shoes. As long as you have something red or glittery (or both) you’re good to go. I personally love a little fur because it means you’re more likely to get stroked all night.EtiquetteYou gotta watch yourself because chances are you’re going to run into all the same people at the next party. The last thing you want to do is throw up/pass out/make a fool out of yourself because (take it from me) there is nowhere to hide.Take this guy Chris. I’d never met him before even though we’ve both lived here for a while. Of course now that we’ve met, we see each other wherever we go.”Hey Lisa!” he said when I ran into him at the opening of the D&E women’s store on Tuesday night (definitely the coolest thing to happen for Aspen girls in a long, long time).I looked at him point blank and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” and turned my back. I could hear him whispering, “What’s her name? Who is she?” which incensed me even more.The thing that pissed me off is I’d probably spent at least three hours with my new friend Chris over the last five parties I’d been to. I’d heard virtually every detail of this guy’s life, from where he grew up (Philadelphia) and where he summered as a kid (Dewey Beach) to where he lives now (in a townhouse he’s renovating in the West End) and his various hobbies (big time cyclist). Here’s a little hint-if you don’t know someone’s name, don’t guess. It’s kind of like assuming that chubby girl is pregnant – always better safe than sorry.There’s also the trick of sneaking out of parties so your friends can’t wrangle you into having six more drinks. (Can you even imagine the field day the Aspen Daily News would have if I got a DUI?) In my circles we call this “The 5-2 Fake-Out,” and it was coined for a guy named Adam who is notorious for pulling this clever little disappearing act. I think it’s permissible for anyone who lives off-campus (ABC, hello). For everyone else: there’s a reason they invented Red Bull.At this point, we’ll all be lucky to survive the Christmas party circuit. Who has time to even think about New Year’s? At the rate we’re all going, I’ll be lucky if I make it to see 2007. The Princess’s social calendar is booked until next year. E-mail your holiday wishes to

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