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Ego Nwodim’s Post-Quarantine Holiday Party Survival Guide


So you’re going to a holiday party for the first time in a very long time. How do you behave? What are the new protocols? Is it okay to shake hands? Are hugs out of the question? As life begins to return to (somewhat) normal, we could all use an updated etiquette lesson on what to say—and not say—to our closest friends and family members, because the holidays are all about celebrating with loved ones rather than offending them, right? If you’re brave enough to attend a festive get-together this season, the Saturday Night Live star has tips to avoid being the most awkward guest in the room.


Wear pants.

This is probably what sucks the most about seeing people again: You can’t show up without bottoms. Maybe put on a bra, too, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Avoid shaking hands at all costs.

Let’s face it, there was never really a reason for our hands to touch. We never needed high fives or handshakes.

Do your research.

Instagram has become a great tool for assessing whether or not you want to see a certain person in real life. What are the odds they have COVID and will give it to you? Reconnaissance is crucial for figuring out whether guests in attendance have been safe, or at least smart enough to pretend they’ve been safe.

Keep your lips sealed.

Tempting as it might be, I don’t recommend open-mouth kissing. We live in a pandemic now.

Don’t dip into the ex files.

You may be in your hometown, but under no circumstances should you text your ex. You’re not J.Lo, and your ex is not Ben Affleck. Tell yourself they have COVID. Do not call; do not text.

photography by keirnan monaghan  theo vamvounakis

Keirnan Monaghan and Theo Vamvounakis/Art Partner

“Update your wardrobe. I resent everything inside my closet because I wish I owned a house, but instead I have all these fucking clothes.”

Roll up with a new squeeze.

Just like Issa Rae. You didn’t even know she was engaged—and bam! Now she’s married. Bonus points for bringing a random celebrity as your plus-one. That way, no one will want to talk to you, which means you won’t have to worry about your own resocialization.

Leave the homemade bread at home.

I never understood why sourdough was the quarantine It Girl. Why go through the process of baking bread when you could just buy it? Still, bring a hostess gift—preferably something for the toilet. People don’t have plungers in their homes, and it’s horrendous. Gifting Poo-Pourri is a good look.

Try not to pry.

Do your best not to inquire about the last time Aunt Susan got laid, even though we’re all curious.

Brainstorm new talking points.

We’ve got to move on from “Where did you quarantine?” and “Whom did you quarantine with?” It truly doesn’t matter. Unless you met a man the day before lockdown and quarantined with him, I don’t want to hear about it.

holiday party dessert, bundt cake with a bottle of scotch spiced cake, cocktails, liquor, spirits

Bela Borsodi/Trunk Archive

“Have a cocktail, preferably something spiced. If you call it a spiced drink, then it’s immediately holiday-appropriate, alcoholic or not.”

Share your rock-bottom story.

Don’t skimp on the details. I want to hear your absolute lowest moment during lockdown, even if I just met you. It humanizes us and puts us all on an even playing field. As for me, I cried in the shower, then I did the “Quarantine Cutie” tutorial.

Put your phone down and be present.

That’s not to say you can’t document yourself looking cute. I’m all for the Pillow Face filter.

Learn how to smize.

The number of times I’ve smiled at someone with my mask on and thought, “Oh no, they didn’t realize I was smiling at them, and I look like a bitch” is insane. I think we could all benefit from rewatching episodes of America’s Next Top Model with Tyra Banks.

Let some things go unsaid.

There’s no reason to tell people what shows you’re binge-watching. We’re all basically watching the same stuff.

Reintroduce yourself.

We all changed during the pandemic; why not take this opportunity to switch identities? It’s like when people start going by their middle name in college.

Be your own Santa Claus.

Gifting at my age isn’t easy, but it can be. Try giving a friend a list of 20 things you want, then Venmo them money to buy half. Let the friend wrap the gifts, so there’s still an element of surprise. What can I say? I’m an adult, I know what I like and you don’t.

Photographer and makeup: Merrell Hollis; stylist: Chanel Smith; hair: Elliott Simpson

This article appears in the December/January 2021 issue of ELLE.

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