My friends, who are in their 20s, throw all kinds of dinner parties and movie nights, and each event is so nicely planned out that it almost seems competitive. I have no idea how to do that! I can’t think of what to do after “order a pizza.”—Lesley
I never really learned how to cook or clean or entertain, either. I mean, I learned how to throw salt on a fire to make purple flames, but not how to chop vegetables, because I just never cared until I approached 30 and started to get that “hosting” can be less of an asphyxiating social ballet and more about the self-affirming ways you can show your friends that you care about them (and that you can mix a really balling Caesar).
There are still a few inalienable truths about having people over to your house. The bathroom should be immaculate, with clean towels, fresh soap, and no evidence of your pre-work grooming. Your room is where you hide the embarrassing stuff, so block the door with a chair. And be ready with more of everything (napkins, cups, food, alcohol) than you think you’ll need. “Lots of ice,” says Alison Slight of the luxury event–management company Candice & Alison.
You won’t host with powder-dry Zen at first, so start by throwing a weeknight drinks-type party. Slight recommends the dollar store for coloured plates and glassware; craft paper is a good way to cover the table and, generally, candles and flowers are cheaper and better than any laboured décor.
Food is kind of the easiest part, because twentysomethings will basically eat anything. “Don’t overcomplicate your menu,” Slight says. If you’d rather not cook, go to St. Lawrence Market for something prepared. “You can find barbecued ribs, Ukrainian cabbage rolls, and freshly steamed lobster if you want to go all out,” says Slight. “Sophisticated ingredients elevate your guests’ perception of effort.” Ask around about allergies and food-restrictions-of-the-week before you go shopping, and have something sweet ready, even if it’s just homemade ice-cream sandwiches, which you can make the night before.
Immediately offer a drink to everyone who walks in, and serve the wine they bring right away. Music is super-important, so predetermine a playlist. “If you aren’t overly musically inclined, [curated compilations from] Buddha Bar or Hôtel Costes are always crowd-pleasers,” Slight says. “Don’t stress out. You are among friends, and they shouldn’t judge.” They will anyway, but mostly they’ll gauge how you made them feel as a guest, not your relative party perfection. Oh, and tuck goody bags into their hands or pockets as they leave, with candy, condoms, little toys, and Advil. Any first-timer mistakes you made will be forgotten by morning.
I am really tired of my body hair. What would a girl think about a guy who shaves his pubic hair?—Kyle
My current Gchat scene consists of two lesbians and a straight man, so let’s ask them: one vote for hairless, one vote for “don’t care,” and one vote for “I don’t talk to my friends about that.” And that’s about as much of a consensus as you’re going to get on the subject. “A girl” as an idea doesn’t exist; if you want to know what a particular girl thinks, you’re going to have to nut up (ha!) and ask her. The nicest part of pubic hair is that it’s handily dealt with—even though testicles, especially, do not afford a flat, taut shaving environment, it can be done, and it can grow back. How about this: Do whatever you want, and then casually ask a girl what she likes when you are pants-off-level intimate with her. She’ll know you care enough to adjust, and unless you get a solid “Ew,” you can shave with impunity. Just be very careful. As the straight man points out, “The blood down there is very purple and worrying.”
Have a question for Kate? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.