2020 has been a disruptive year that has forced us to think of new and creative ways to have fun and celebrate holidays and milestones with others. I am stoked about the distribution of coronavirus vaccines that will, I hope, set us free to mingle in real shared spaces again, but I've also enjoyed witnessing the shakeup of assumptions about how we have to share traditions and joys and sorrows with our friends and loved ones. I hope we don't ever forget how we were able to adapt to adversity and even turn our "prisons" into "playgrounds." During the last national crisis, the Great Recession, my friends and I came up with lots of creative and whimsical ways to recreate simply because we couldn't afford private jets and bottle service. Or even going out to eat every weekend. One way we had big fun on a smol budget was to throw absurdist theme parties. You don't have to be fancy if you can be funny.
The aughts contained a lot of silly variations on 1980s parties involving Atari games and roller skates, and I can recall at least two indoor winter luaus at which only the men wore coconut bras. To close out the decade, my husband and I--new homeowners but not yet parents--threw a crowded New Year's Eve bash in our snug little space with a dress code of "formal, yet in poor taste." The candid photos from that night are amazing.
But the event I've profiled in the old post below, "Surf Through the Winter Holidays," was one of the most adorable ever, a 30th birthday party luau in a frozen Michigan trailer park, in December.
My youthful education in hilarious, fun, and photogenic low-budget parties has served me well as a mother. Pinterest-perfect Disney Princess birthday parties are impressive, or whatever, I guess, but allow me to humbly boast that the kids have a better time at my daughter's absurd and chaotic child-selected theme parties that make absolutely no sense to adults.
Whatever age or stage you're at, try out an absurdist theme party sometime--right now on Zoom, or later, post-pandemic. Maybe try "roaring '20s dumpster fire cookout" and style all the food to look like trash. Throw out any uptight assumptions about what a good party requires. Then invite anyone who is down like a clown. The guests don't have to get it, they just have to be willing to play along. Mele Kalikimaka and a Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!
Surf Through the Winter Holidays
Skip the traditional Christmas and New Year. Trade white snow for white sand. Board a jet for the equator.
What, can't afford the flight? Neither could we, but that didn't stop us from celebrating our friend Miss Moppet's 30th birthday with a tropical luau!
Primo party, dude! We watched Lilo and Stitch on a big-screen TV, sipped Venetian sunsets, and watched the beautiful bearded hula dancers in their matching grass skirts and their coconut bras that doubled as drum sets. Gnarlatious!
Palm trees with glittery golden coconuts shaded our game of "beach Wii bowling." The monkeys in Santa hats made fun of my surfer babe wetsuit.