usually, the best party is in your pants
Sometimes it's better to stay in than go out. Like when it's cold and raining, or when there's nothing fun to do outside, which are all often the case in Chengdu. And if you're going to stay in, you might as well bring the party to your house, unless your reason for staying at home in the first place is that you're anti-social or have no friends. And if you're bringing the party to your house, you should have some decent entertainment, unless you're still living out your glory days as a frat boy and keg stands and beer bongs are sufficient to make a great night. For the rest of you, and just in time for the holidays—joy to the world—here are some suggestions to making a memorable night with or without getting shitfaced.
The perfect antidote to those unwanted holiday gifts—a re-gifting party. Of course, the better the presents, the more exciting the game will be, so hopefully you rub elbows with lots of independently wealthy types. The die decides whether you can keep your present or not, so you'll likely LOL (not just on the computer screen), swear at your friends, and jump out of your seat in excitement. Get your friends together—the more the merrier, bring along the necessary food and beverages, and follow the rules.
Instruct everyone to bring along presents—if it's not the holiday season, you can buy them, but then the price level should be agreed upon beforehand. Sit in a circle and place the wrapped presents in the middle. Each person should roll the die on his or her turn. The number rolled determines what he or she should do, as listed below. By the end of the game, everyone should have two presents. Set a time limit—30 minutes is usually good if there aren't too many people—and continue the game in hopes of getting or keeping the present you want in your lap.
If you roll a ...
6. open one gift.
5. do nothing.
4. switch seats with the person to your right.
3. exchange gifts with one of the people sitting beside you.
2. pass all of your gifts to the person to your left.
1. pass one gift to the person on your right.
Themed Dinner Party
Feel-good "Around the World" office parties, in which everybody is asked to share something representing their heritage are lame and reek of late-90s "cultural sensitivity" training, but if everybody works together and focuses on creating the ambience of a particular time or place, a good, enriching time might be had. So round up a few friends who have some sort of cultural background in common with you—be it a nationality, a fictional culture (think Star Wars geeks), a time period (maybe you're really into the roaring '20s), etc. This is especially good if you're broke and can't go on vacation while everybody else clears out of town during the Spring Festival. For instance, if you have a few friends who have all spent some time in Vietnam, get them all to put together a Vietnamese-inspired dish, download some Vietpop, hang up some photos of palm trees, turn up your heaters, and voila! Instant Little Saigon!
Do You Have Skills? Party
If you really just want to have a laugh, set up a Do You Have Skills? party. Since we're in Sichuan, the specific skills we recommend you test all your party guests for are:
• Chopsticks skills
• Squatting skills
• La and ma eating skills
• Bargaining in Sichuan dialect skills
Chopsticks skills. Prepare four bowls and two pairs of chopsticks. Pour glass marbles into two of the bowls, between 20 and 30 per bowl, making sure that each bowl has the same number. Place the empty bowls within arm's reach of the bowls containing marbles. Give each participant a pair of chopsticks. At the ring of the bell, they must start transferring marbles from the full bowl to the empty bowl. The person who can transfer all of his/her marbles into the other bowl has chopsticks skills.
Squatting skills. Participants should squat, feet flat on the floor. Anybody who stands up, falls over, or touches the floor with his or her hands is out. The person able to maintain the squatting position longest has squatting skills. For an extra touch, do it on a slippery surface and pump bad odors into the room as they squat.
La and ma eating skills. Buy the spiciest food you can. We suggest hot-pot broth or straight fresh chili peppers. Have contestants eat them. Repeat with huajiao, in peppercorn or powdered form. Anybody who coughs, chokes, cries, vomits, or gets sent to the emergency room is out. Whoever doesn't has la and ma eating skills.
Bargaining in Sichuan dialect skills. Choose an easy-to-find item, such as a particular kind of apple or orange, and give participants a finite amount of time to bring it back. Whoever gets the lowest price (if you want to be really fancy, require them all to record their conversations) has Sichuan dialect bargaining skills.
Make a trophy or hat for the winner, preferably in the shape of a giant red chili pepper and then parade him or her around the town on your shoulders.