New Year’s Eve Party Survival Guide
November 18th, 2008
Cocktails and canapés
take their toll.
But you can still have fun
without losing your fizz,
says Alice-Azania Jarvis
We’ve all been there.
It’s 10.45pm and your
feet are killing you.
So is your back and,
judging by the quantity of
wine that’s still flowing,
so will your head be
in the morning.
Parties are supposed to be fun,
usually around 1 December,
those invitations start to seem more
like a cause for complaint,
competitive griping even, than an
excuse to have fun.
the pool of people with whom
we celebrate gets bigger.
Once it was family.
Then family and friends.
Now we celebrate anyone
even occasionally buying tickets to
celebrate with complete strangers,
donning black tie to knock back cocktails
with people we’ve never met.
And then we moan:
at the office the next day,
when our hangovers kick in;
at home in the evening,
when we can’t face the thought
of yet another night out.
We even moan at parties
when the small talk falters.
By Christmas Day,
we’re all gasping for a nice
cup of tea and a sit down.
And then there’s New Year’s Eve…
It’s enough to drive
anyone back under the duvet.
I know this better than most –
as a gossip columnist,
party-going is part of the job description.
And at Christmas time,
the social schedule is at its most hectic.
It’s all too easy to fill
your diary with engagements,
start out feeling fresh,
and then gradually get more run-down
as the month goes by,
ending up with goodness-knows-what
sickness by 25 December.
But it doesn’t have to be that way:
with the right attention to your health,
you should be able to get through
the month ailment-free,
and maybe even manage to stave off
that hangover until Boxing Day.
What to wear
Often the first thought
on receiving an invitation,
but rarely for the right reasons.
Party gear can do so much –
it can make you look slimmer,
but it can also wreak all kinds
of havoc with your health.
high heels are the worst offenders.
They shift all your weight to your toes,
squashing them together to cause
blisters and corns.
And they accentuate
the curve of your spine,
causing long-term lower- back problems.
Not that we’re going
to stop wearing them.
Nothing turns an outfit from
casual to cocktail like stilettos.
So the answer,
it seems, is mitigation.
“Changing your choice of shoes
can make a difference,”
British Osteopathic Association’s
“The higher they are,
the worse they are,
so go for medium heels
every now and then.
And it’s worth sitting down regularly,
or just moving around
to change position.”
Most experts recommend slipping off
your shoes when you get the chance.
I tend to kick mine off in the taxi
for the duration of the journey,
taking advantage of the privacy
for a break.
Handbags come a close second
on the health-offenders register,
and it’s no wonder:
rushing from work to soirée can
mean lugging a good deal of stuff
along for the ride.
“Big handbags are the worst
for the spinal damage they cause,”
“Across-the-body bags are much better,
but best of all is a small, hand-held bag.”
If it’s not possible to
leave that tote behind,
take a smaller bag or
clutch along too.
That way you can stow
your heavy bag somewhere,
and just carry the essentials.
Make sure you eat right
Trying to eat sensibly can be a
nightmare come party season.
It’s never a good idea to
drink on an empty stomach,
and you know you should have a snack first –
but then, who has the time to rustle up
a salad when they’re doing the mad dash
from desk to cupboard to cocktails?
Most of us end up arriving
with our stomach grumbling,
eyes frantically searching
for a tray of canapés.
Professor Chris Seal of the
Human Nutrition Research Centre,
is where the trouble starts.
“If you begin your night on an empty stomach,
you’ll end up drinking more to fill the gap,
and pile canapés into your mouth.
They’re often pastry-based and
very high in fat, or fried,
which is just as bad.”
If eating something
beforehand isn’t an option,
the next best thing is good
Not all canapés are off-limits,
so resist the urge to pick at
whatever is going past,
and try to snack on healthier options.
Asparagus, sushi or seared tuna,
for example, are fine, as are crudités –
but be careful what you dip them into.
Stick to houmous or salsa rather than
any of the creamier options on offer.
What to drink
It’s no fun being the only
sober person in the room.
Not only are you constantly stuck
in lopsided conversations with the
More Intoxicated but,
you have to fend off “polite” enquiries
as to why you’re not drinking,
or whether you’d like a top-up.
Having a drink in your hand
puts others at ease and,
there’s nothing wrong with that –
“The big danger is the
volume you drink,”
the trend is to have large,
which means that if you have
one glass of wine,
you’re having almost
a third of a bottle.
So count your units carefully.”
If you are drinking,
heed your mother’s advice
and have plenty of water,
“The main problem with what
we drink at this time of year is
that it dehydrates you.
So keep hydrated by alternating
alcohol with water.”
It’s also worth taking into
account what you’re drinking.
author of Little Books’ How
to Cure a Hangover,
it’s the congeners in alcohol –
the chemicals responsible
for taste and colour –
that determine the severity
So that old wives’ tale that red wine
is worse in the morning than
white holds true.
“The simple rule is that
the paler the drink,
the less likely it is to carry
a load of congeners.
Vodka and gin are less
than whisky and brandy.
Similarly, the darker the wine,
the more likely there is to be a
hangover if drunk in excess.
Burgundy must be treated
with more care than claret.”
And, whatever you drink,
don’t neglect your body the next day.
Just because it’s the festive season,
it doesn’t mean that you should
abandon a healthy lifestyle completely.
If you maintain a balanced diet,
you won’t need to turn to miracle cures –
most of which,
according to Seal,
don’t actually work.
Try to maintain an exercise routine,
You may not feel like it,
but if you have a reasonably
high muscle-to-fat ratio,
you’ll metabolise residual
Mind your back
Almost as hazardous as high heels,
bad posture can have disastrous effects
when you’re spending night after night
standing around at parties.
Williams warns that stooping,
or leaning against a wall
the structure of the body.
“Standing incorrectly puts
unnecessary pressure on
“Being bent over can even inhibit
breathing and digestion,
both important functions
at this time of year.”
“If you get the chance to sit down,
take it –
but beware of seats that are too low,
like the low-slung couches common
in bars and nightclubs.”
“They force you to sit at
an uncomfortable angle,
which puts strain on your back,”
“It’s even worse when you’re
drinking alcohol and are
a bit dehydrated.
Your discs will be under
a lot of pressure.”
Don’t overdo it
learn to clock-watch.
December brings with it such a
volume of social occasions and so
many consecutive nights out,
that maintaining your stamina
It’s important to pace yourself,
not just your drinks,
in order to avoid exhaustion.
Without enough early nights,
you’re sure to end up feeling run-down
and yearning for a cup of
cocoa by Christmas.
So if you know that one night
of the week is going to be especially late,
make an effort to leave other events
early enough to get a decent night’s sleep.
Don’t be afraid to call time on partying –
everyone else is going to just as many dos,
so one night off is unlikely to make much
difference in the grand scheme of the
____________Katie Green foto unleasheddigital.com