Gigi Pritzker is a member of the HRFS Advisory Board and produced “Hell or High Water,” a 2017 Best Picture contender.
If you’re like me, then you tire of the forced feelings and cheapness of a corporate creation like Valentine’s Day— and long to celebrate a holiday proper.
Luckily, Presidents’ Day is approaching, and with it, all the joy and warmth that Hallmark only wishes they could capture on a $5 card.
But how does one properly revel in the day that honors the highest office in the land?
Look no further, my fellow patriots, for this is a guide to creating a historical hootenanny that will turn you from a Dewey Downer into a Triumphant Truman in 5 easy steps.
Step 1: Set Expectations
Make sure your guests know that this is a two-term party.
The first term goes from 6 PM to 10 PM. This is the cordial term. It is a quiet, pleasant time to make alliances and load up on snacks. I know you made a lot of promises about how drunk you were going to get and how many phone numbers we– as a nation– are going to score, but if you act like this will be your only 4 hours to achieve it, it might be.
The second term goes from 10 PM to 2 AM. Time to get things done. Let the lame ducks and George Bush Srs. (or worse, a William Henry Harrison who barely makes an appearance) head home early, but you are going to make your time worthwhile. Remember, no matter what you do… somebody else will have to clean it up.
(If somebody stays through the night, it’s called “FDRing.” You know you’ve done it right if you can’t walk in the morning.)
Step 2: Set the Atmosphere
Decorations: Print out your favorite documents, laws and amendments passed by the most famous politicians to ever occupy the Oval Office and turn them into streamers and confetti. Congress does it all the time! (Zing!)
Music: P.O.T.U.S.A., John Phillip Sousa, a few choice Animaniacs and “Schoolhouse Rock” songs. Throw on the “Assassins” soundtrack to let your guests know when it’s time to leave.
TV: Some would be tempted to throw on classics like Lincoln, The American President, Dave, or My Fellow Americans, but why settle for the fiction when you can have the real thing? Go with a Ronald Reagan film festival.
Step 3: Refreshments
Snacks: Make sure you have a chicken in every pot. Provide plenty of peanut clusters for Carter, serve at least one animal you killed with your own hands for Teddy and bake a lasagna for Garfield. For dessert, add whiskey to your chocolate mousse recipe to make it a Bull Mousse Party. Speaking of which…
Drinks: Don’t take the fact that your guests will have plenty of booze on their person for Grant-ed. A good host must provide. I recommend starting the night off with a Washington Apple shot (he was first, after all, and the shots should be free, since it is his birthday). Then, to be really historically accurate, I would recommend a grain alcohol served out of a Taft-sized bathtub.
Step 4: Games!
Seven Minutes in Secret Service: The guest with the birthday closest to your party date is elected to be “President for the Evening” (it makes more sense than the Electoral College). At any point, anyone can yell “Shooter!” and the three closest party guests must dogpile him or her.
Debate or Wrestle: There were two things that Lincoln was good at: speechin’ and wrassilin’. An affair with a political background like this is inevitably going to spark lively debate. At any point during spirited discussion, the two sides may choose to settle their issues at the podiums… or in the Presidential Jell-O pool.
Spin the Context: First, draw a famous presidential quote from one hat. Then, draw a hot-button political issue from another hat. Using only your wits, explain how the quote supports your issue. Winner gets a prime slot on the 24-hour news network of their choice.
Silent Cal: When you are good and drunk, it’s time to start destroying friendships. See who can deliver the most brutal put-down using two words or less.
Step 5: Ending the Evening
When all is said and done, it is important that your party had good intentions and has not dishonored itself through personal agendas. It will have supporters and critics on all sides, but if your party can look itself in the mirror and honestly tell itself that it tried its best for your guests, then you know that it has earned its due place in history.
Giving all of your guests free health care would be good, too.
C.J. Tuor is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory and performs every Saturday night at 9 PM in the DeMaat Theatre with Twisty, A Second City Training Center Ensemble. C.J. will also be performing at The Annoyance Theatre in Hitch*Cocktails.