As an adult, you’re going to go to parties. They are not like the glorious college bashes you threw with all your friends. There are fewer dance floors, fewer kegs, fewer reasons to stay... fewer everything, really. Grown-up parties can get pretty bleak, in fact, and these are the 13 bleakest of them all. We’ve ranked them for suckery from “nearly tolerable” to “dying cannot be worse than this,” just so you know what you’re up against.
13. Your own birthday
Despite the fact that birthdays are a tangible celebration of the biological truth that you are closer to death, they can often be fun. Sure, you might not want to make a big deal out of it, but any party where you’re the center of attention and your friends buy you drinks simply isn’t that bad.
12. Open-bar weddings
For a stretch in your late 20s, it may feel like the only reason you have a job is to pay for all the weddings you have to go to. This may even be true. But it’s not all bad! Even though you can’t be the center of attention here, someone else is still paying for your good time. At their best, open-bar weddings are just big, boozy, well-dressed parties that someone else planned, executed, and will clean up afterward. Plus you get to gator to “Shout!” Woo!
11. Bachelor/bachelorette parties
Stag/hen weekends are usually pretty OK. They cost a lot: you'll have to spring for travel & booze, plus incidentals like strippers or jumbo inflatable penis hats and a tiara made out of twizzlers. But you'll probably have enough fun that the debauch seems almost worth it when you're back at work the following Monday. Again: "pretty OK." Nothing more, nothing less.
10. Friend moving from/returning to your city
Going-away/coming-home parties are just excuses for a bunch of disparate groups to get together and lavish attention whichever friend they all have in common -- like Todd, who just took a job in San Francisco. You usually have to buy your own drinks and suffer through a few awkward “so how do you know Todd” conversations, but these are generally tolerable.
9. Company holiday parties
Do you like a few of your coworkers, and absolutely loathe the rest of them? Perfect! Drink deeply on the company’s bar tab and talk wild shit about the latter with the former. Is this how you’d like to spend a precious evening during the holiday season? Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous. But it would look bad if you weren’t here, so put a lampshade on your head and make the best of it.
8. Coworker leaving happy hour
If you have a cool boss, he/she will open a tab to cover a few rounds. If you don’t have a cool boss, you probably shouldn’t go, because canceling your ambitious gym-to-Netflix plan to instead buy yourself drinks and get anxious about how your career is stalling while your peers’ are blossoming is... uh, not ideal. Plus, your boss isn’t cool, which means showing up late the next morning is a no-go.
Apparently, some people expect you to bring, like, actual apartment furnishings to their housewarming parties. Did you know this? It’s absurd. Even if you don’t come across one of these delusional maniacs, housewarmings are an unpleasant adventure into the home of a stranger. You’ll either be jealous how big it is, uncomfortable because of how small it is, or embarrassed because it’s way cleaner than your place. No matter what, they’ll run out of beer like three times.
6. Other people’s birthdays
Right at the beginning of your post-college existence, all your friends are going to do “wristband open-bar” birthday parties. These are categorically terrible: too expensive, too crowded, and invariably hosted by gross, hypothetically Irish bars. But don’t take my word for it -- go experience a few for yourself. You’ll see.
Potlucks are well-intentioned attempts to make your friends feel more like your family. That’s nice. That might be the only nice thing about potlucks. Everything else is a toss-up: is the table big enough? Did people bring enough food? Is the food edible? How are you getting your Tupperware back? Questions abound.
4. Group brunches
3. Bridal/baby showers
Having never been to either form of shower personally, I wasn’t sure where to rank this type of grown-up party. So I asked a friend of mine, who has been to a bunch. She told me the following: “The food is never that good, the conversation is prying (when are you getting married/having a baby?), the games are fucking wretched, and the entire time, you have to pretend you’re having the BEST time, while in reality, you want to die. The worst part is, if you’re good friends with the mother-/bride-to-be, you probably helped plan this whole circus.” So I think showers belong right here.
Obviously, it’s no fun when someone you care about dies. Grief is painful, arrangements are expensive, considering your own mortality is terrifying, and so forth. That’s why funerals are ranked so high. On the other hand, there’s a good chance you didn’t know the person too well, in which case funeral receptions are just another reason to wear dark clothes and eat casserole with tipsy strangers. Not the best.... but not the worst, either.
1. Cash-bar weddings
That’s right. The worst type of party you’ll experience as a grown-up is a wedding whose bar has not been bought & paid for by someone else. The critical role of free-flowing booze to a successful wedding is so direct, so obvious, and so fundamental that its absence can more or less ruin the nuptials. When you’re at a cash-bar wedding, you will discover several things: that your friends (both the ones getting married, and the ones at Table 6 with you, who won’t buy you a round even though you already got one earlier!!!!) are cheap; that weddings and receptions are actually pretty damn long; and that dancing to "Shout!" is shockingly unenjoyable when you're not full of free Scotch. No one of sound mind and reasonable financial means wants to attend a cash-bar wedding; you go because you have to. As such, it's our indisputable champion of this bleak-ass ranking. Godspeed, my fellow grown-ups.