The people make the party

I've said for a long time that New Year's Eve is the second best party of the year, after Halloween. Halloween, of course, is propped up by my college years, when the costume parties were by far and away the best, and also that time I was in Sydney when all of the brits held it down at the hostel party. I've been to some classic holiday and Valentine's day parties, too.

Austria's Halloween parties aren't quite the same. I'm not saying they weren't good, but they are more like normal parties with horns and a little bit of makeup. It's been a bit disappointing, but I've always had some nice company along for the ride, which more than makes up for the lack of costume creativity.

For New Year's Eve, we had house party after house party in college, a couple of stints in Columbus (of Ohio), and a handful of parties in Chicago. I've done the bar thing, the apartment thing, the stay-at-home thing, and the formal party in a museum thing, and I've only seen one pattern related to how much fun the party was: the people.

The more friends I have with me on the big night, the more fun it ends up being. It doesn't matter where we are or what we're doing, as long as there are a lot of us there doing it. That goes for all parties, not just New Year's Eve. The reason the Halloween parties in college were so fun was that nearly everyone I knew in college was totally committed to finding a good costume and playing the part. Everybody came, and everyone participated.

Now, I go where the people are. Wherever they gather (and give me enough notice to buy buy a plane ticket), I will be there.

I'm looking forward to this year's party, as I do every year, even though this is one of the most loosely-planned that I can remember. The most important thing is that I will be with friends.