CultureSkills

No matter what you are celebrating this holiday season, a party is a great opportunity to see those closest to you. The task of setting up a party is easier than you think. Here are some ideas to make sure your party is a success:

1. Decorate

There is a time to decorate and this is it. Your residence doesn’t have to be all holiday themed if you have guests of more than one faith. Snowflakes, snowmen, or other seasonal themed decorations are appropriate. Decorations that you have collected over the years can be charming. If you don’t have those on hand, homemade or new decorations could be just the thing to make your place seem like a home. ‘Tis The Season: DIY Christmas” by Nicolette Pezza will give you some simple tips to make homemade decorations.

2. Make A Holiday Playlist

There are lots of Christmas albums out there these days. Mix and match your favorite tracks to give your party some background music. It’s a great way to set the mood.

3. Watch Holiday Movies

There are tons of holiday movies out right now which is a great opportunity for a holiday movie marathon. Channels like the Hallmark Channel play holiday films pretty much continuously. Dig up some good holiday flicks or tell your guests to bring their favorites. You may learn to love something new.

4. Get Holiday Themed Food and Drinks

Holidays are a great time for making treats and distributing them to friends and neighbors. At my holiday parties, I let my friends help in the creation and design of their cookies. It’s a good way to be creative and productive when making your party spread. Think of some seasonal items for the rest of the menu. Take a look at “3 Easy To Make Holiday Beverages” by Marian Rose Bagamaspad for drink ideas.

5. Hand Out Party Favors

The point is to get your friends something to remember their time.  Holiday baking would count as a party favor. There are a lot of sales going on now. Find something small for the people in your life. This could also be a time to pass out Christmas cards.

6. Do What Works For You

Do whatever you feel comfortable with.  I know many people who bought themselves Christmas sweaters this year. Have a Christmas sweater party! Share a holiday tradition with your friends or create a new one. It’s a good way to get to know people better. The important thing is to have fun with what you have.

These are just a few suggestions for throwing the ideal holiday party. Use what is around and available to you. The holiday season is a great time to see all those people you miss the rest of the year. You’ll want everyone to have a good time.

What are your holiday party must haves?

Image: Daniel Ramirez

Culture

Halloween is a night of fun, and of mischief. Whether you’re on campus or at a party in the city, it’s always good to have some safety tips in mind.

1. Do stuff with friends. Your friends take care of you and you take care of your friends.

2. Have a breathe­able and walk­able costume. Have back up shoes. If it’s cold, have some layering possibilities.

3. Avoid having a seance. Avoid all attempts to talk to spirits or bring back the dead.

4. Eat before drinking. Don’t leave your drink lying around. Don’t drink too much.

5. Know your surroundings when you’re going to a place. Know the people at the place. When you arrive somewhere, locate the bathroom and know your escape routes.

6. Charge your phone and keep it with you. Also have all of your emergency contacts in your phone, as well as your friend’s numbers.

7. Stay if it’s fun, don’t if it’s lame. No stress.

8. Follow your this-­is-­sketchy gut.

9. Have a way to get home or have a place to crash (friends from rule #1).

10. Carry a mini-flashlight or glowsticks with you to provide light when it gets too dark.

11. Have fun and be smart!

How will you be staying safe tomorrow? Happy Halloween!

Image: James Lee

Culture

As children, we love Halloween for the candy. As we grow up, the candy is still nice, but celebrating is about the costumes and the parties. Part of the fun of the holiday is the ability to dress up and step outside of yourself for a day. The type of costumes we wear have a way of changing as we get older. Do we wear the costume that reflects us or do we wear the popular costume? For girls in particular, the popular costume has become synonymous with the sexy costume. We live in an age where the popular costume comes with drawbacks.

The change in our costumes seems to represent an unspoken cultural shift. On Saturday Night Live‘s Halloween episode this year, they parodied a Halloween store commercial. They claimed to have “sexy Hunger Games costumes” including “Sexy Katniss Everdeen,” “Sexy Her Sister,” and more. Though there were a lot of jokes in this sketch, this one stuck out to me because it plays on the idea that every popular costume needs to be sexy. No one ever said that all young women should be dressing sexy for a holiday, but it is expected anyway. Likewise, I don’t think anyone says they want to be a sexy version of something on Halloween, but you kind of expect that is what a girl’s costume will be.

I personally have worn both types of costumes, but I started out with a more innocent one. I have always had long dark hair so I looked for a costume that could accentuate that. One year, I ended up going as Samara from The Ring. While I bought makeup from a Halloween store, most of my costume was an outfit that I put together myself. I loved the costume. I put a lot of work into it. I wore it freshmen year of high school and by senior year, people I didn’t even know still remembered that costume. I still have pictures of the costume and remember it fondly.

A few years later, I wore the “sexy” army girl costume. I wore it in a theme with my friends, and it was fun to coordinate costumes with them. I was legally an adult by the time I wore it but I was still living at home. The main downside of wearing the costume was walking past my parents as I left the house. I don’t know if I would have been allowed to wear that kind of costume before I was an adult. Regardless, it felt odd for them to see me like that. Another issue was that I got cold when I went out at night. Going out and being seen is the point of the costume. They are good outfits to look at but not very practical. All that said, it was a costume that I wore only one night. My costume choice did not have any long term effects on me. So, what’s the real problem?

I think the problem with the sexy costumes is about how we have accepted this role for women. There does not seem to be a male equivalent to the sexy costume. Nor is there any expectation for men to wear any particular kind of costume. In fact, the pictures on costume packaging suggest men wear clothes under their costumes. This makes the idea that women have to be sexy all the time all the more strange. As I mentioned, I made my costume when I went as Samara from The Ring. I bought my costume when I became sexy army girl. When I went shopping for a costume this year, there were two sexy women costumes for every regular one. It’s not impossible to find costumes that don’t show much skin, but the point is that this task should not be that hard. We have somehow accepted this to the point where it has become a trend. If you’re not in a couple’s costume, it’s as if you are advertising. Can you be called a tease for wearing these costumes or are you just a shopper? At what age are you pressured to go from bunny to sexy bunny? No one pays attention to this trend and that is what makes it dangerous.

In the end, the choice of how you celebrate Halloween is up to you. It’s a holiday! It should be fun. I don’t think you should worry about someone “slut shaming” you because you picked a certain costume. I do think a problem exists when the costume makes you feel bad when you are wearing it. There is a double standard in the way these costumes are marketed. If you are feeding into this by wearing a costume, you should think about how that makes you feel before you make a final purchase. Maybe you could embrace your creative side and make something all your own.

Health

“Kid … if you need booze or drugs to enjoy your life to the fullest, then you’re doing it wrong.”

– Robin Williams

Based on my experience from the first couple of weeks at college, I get the sense that a majority of freshmen seem to be overly excited about their new-found freedom, and are rampantly scouring campus to find a frat party, or some sort of shindig so that they can “turn up.” Our culture makes this seem like normal college behavior; we work hard all week long and on the weekends we just want to rest, have a little fun, and let loose. To be honest, I am also one of those people. However I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether being drunk and/or getting high is a healthy solution to de-stressing?

Like Robin Williams said, if you need some sort of narcotic substance to always let loose, are you really living your life to its fullest potential? I would suggest probably not. That is why I think college parties are overrated — the same events occur at every single party. People have a couple drinks, do things they normally wouldn’t because of the influence of alcohol or drugs, and potentially regret their actions the next day.

From what I’ve seen so far, the type of “letting loose” students do at these parties is typically very aggressive and actually creates more problems and drama than originally intended. With the involvement of substances, inhibitions in the brain are lowered and people partake in activities they otherwise would choose not to. These actions could lead to relationship conflicts as well, as one person in the scenario attempts to avoid another. This eventually creates small emotional rifts and tears that lead to larger, possibly irreparable damage.

What about in your own experience? Have you also see this emotional harm occurring? Do you think it’s healthy for you or for others?

We should also talk about the substance abuse issue: How much alcohol is too much? It depends on your body type, weight, tolerance, the type of alcohol, and the mix of different kinds. If you do not already know your limit, are you taking the right precautions to be safe?

Consider the legal aspect: If you are under 21 and drinking, you have broken the law. You risk being caught when police could possibly come and crash the party. You risk being suspended. Let me ask you, is it really worth it? Is it also really worth it to possess illegal substances on campus, and risk being expelled? These are the things you should think about before you take drugs or get blacked out on alcohol. Are you ready to jeopardize your college education due to reckless irresponsibility?

You’ve got four years of your undergraduate education ahead of you. You need to decide what is wrong and what is right, because you will never get this time in your life back. You could be out traveling, exploring, and meeting amazing role models. There’s so much more to life than alcohol, drugs, and regrettable actions.

Image: Flickr