We've been to so many parties this year, our dance card is so thoroughly punched it's destroyed. For our year-in-review, we thought we'd share some tips to help guarantee you'll enjoy every party next year — and avoid the pitfalls that had us sneaking out the back door.
1. Get social (media). Schedules are hectic and deadlines are tight, so we rarely get a formal mailed invitation to any event. Facebook invites and Twitter shout-outs help us keep our schedule full. Look to local PR groups for the most current information on happenings. If we didn't follow Leapfrog, Obviouslee, or the Becket Agency, we would have never heard about the Rag and Bone/Westbrook fashion show, the Stars restaurant preview, or the Alley's Studio 300 party.
2. Wear flats. It's hard enough to party hop with the cab shortage in town, but we've learned that uneven bricks and cobblestone streets equal broken heels and sore toes. At Jamie Lin Snider's first First Friday party, our stiletto snapped. Thankfully, Snider was nice enough to give us a pair of shoes she had left over from Charleston Fashion Week. Flats also come in handy when you're strolling the French Quarter during the art openings held every month.
3. Get outside. Charleston is known for its beautiful weather, and some of our favorite events this year were held outdoors. The sun was out for the Charleston Carifest Caribbean Carnival held at Brittlebank Park, where we enjoyed jerk chicken on the lawn, watching belly dancers and children play. Another reason to enjoy outdoor events was the prevalence of food trucks at these fêtes. The Dance Block Party at the Dancefx studio parking lot was fun for the performances, but also because the Diggity Doughnuts and Hello My Name is BBQ trucks were serving up delicious grub.
4. Know your DJs. A good soundtrack can make or break the party. We have a few favorites and know that if they're spinning, then we're in for a good time. DJ JeffET is a staple at Rebekah Jacob Gallery happenings, and you can't help but feel happy when you spot his infectious smile, not to mention creative mixes. DJ RockyHorror was responsible for the dance party that broke out at VILN Collective's opening party. DJ NattyHeavy has been a favorite ever since he took our request for a Major Lazer song at a Fish restaurant dance party. A warning, however: DJs usually don't take too kindly to requests.
5. Get into character. We saw plenty of theme parties this year, and the guests who went all out with their costumes seemed to have the most fun. The man dressed as a tornado at the Wizard of Oz-themed Red Party was the center of attention on the dance floor, and every Dorothy gladly posed for pictures with onlookers. The Circus Spectacular Fundraising Gala hosted by the Children's Museum of the Lowcountry allowed us to pull out our top hats. We would love to see more people in costume for 2013.
6. Give back. Charleston is a charitable town, and many of the events we attended benefited various non-profits. This year we had a blast contributing to the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction, the Cannonborough block party and fish fry hosted by Friends of Dereef Park and Charleston Peace One Day, the Girls Rock Charleston benefit, Art For Charity, and many others. Help others and have fun.
7. Arrive fashionably late. The college set doesn't usually go out until after dark. At the Rogue Wave Surf Shop pre-Labor Day bash, we sat on the front porch sipping our free drinks wondering if it would turn into the Sperry Top-sider/Reyka vodka super bash we expected. As soon as the sun set, we blinked and the shop was full of musicians and cool kids. Sometimes it pays to wait.
8. Get there early. If the demographic for the party skews older or there's free food, be on time or you'll miss out on the hors d'oeuvres. For Ted's Butcherblock's Bacon Extravaganza, we were the first in line for the samples. The older crowds that attend black-tie benefits and art parties, like the Spoleto Traces fête, are punctual. They will beat you to the cheese tray.
9. Skip the chicken and waffle appetizer. We first spotted this tiny take on the Southern classic — a fried chicken tender in a teeny waffle cone — at Spoleto Scene's White Party. "Cute," we thought, until the crumbly dry canapé was stuck in our throat. Without a liberal dose of syrup, this snack falls flat, yet a number of catering companies have added it to their repertoires. We avoided the trays of cones at Charleston Stage's gala, the YALLFest cocktail party, and various auctions.
10. Have fun. It's a party! Lighten up, let loose, and smile. And if it's truly terrible, check City Paper's events calendar, because there's probably another party to hit up that night.