Rhiannon Harries: Staying in? It has to be a themed party

Urban Notebook
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The Independent Online

So how was last night for you? Head a little sore? Only a vague recollection of getting to bed? At least if, like two thirds of the nation, you chose to celebrate the New Year at home, the journey between your last glass and your pillow should have involved nothing more arduous than a wobbly climb upstairs.

Of course, we were mere days into the recession when staying in was crowned the new going out. Aside from the financial advantage, the familiarity of our own home, or that of a friend's, is supposedly just the comfort we need when everything else is a bit shaky.

But on the evidence of recent parties, an invitation to hang out in someone's living room for an evening promises anything but the reassuringly uncomplicated routine of slinging on some nice music and setting the world to rights over a bottle. Competitive Come Dine With Me-inspired cook-offs, a vampire-themed Sunday lunch, a multicultural "safari" dinner party with each course a different cuisine served at a different address, a YouTube party where everyone brings their favourite clip – just some of the home affairs I've attended recently.

Thankfully that lot were billed on the invite; I've begun to develop a phobia of impromptu after-dinner X Factor karaoke contests courtesy of pesky games consoles.

Not so long ago, the idea of themed entertaining seemed terribly naff; now it seems we can only stand to stay at home if there's some kind of gimmick or orchestrated fun involved. And I'm not sure the amount I have invested in sourcing Twilight-inspired accessories or esoteric ingredients makes it a recession-busting alternative either.

Still if you can't beat them, I suppose the only answer is to throw a "mid-noughties" soiree. Everyone comes round to yours, then you all go out to the pub. Terribly retro.

Friendly resolutions

Eavesdropping on a nearby table in a restaurant this week, I was impressed by the group's novel approach to New Year resolutions: they were making them up for each other. None of the default self-flagellation, just positive advice from well-meaning friends. Or maybe not, since by the time I left two of them were embroiled in a bitter spat. Think I'll concentrate on the shortcomings I know about before asking for further suggestions.

Get the humanoid look

Forget The September Issue. If you're looking for a classic fashion film, it's James Cameron's new blockbuster Avatar. Or so think the people behind a recent mailshot instructing me how to "get the Avatar look". If you wish to resemble a 10-ft blue humanoid, get thee to the sales immediately for navy leggings and a headband, apparently.