Why Millennials and Parties Don’t Mix (and why it’s a problem)

The New York Times recently published an article called Death of the Party, in which the author points out how much younger generations have opted out of the traditional chip-and-dip, mix-and-mingle kind of get-togethers that you might have seen on Mad Men (or, you know, in real life).

There are plenty of reasons why millennials and parties are incompatible, and they all make sense; it’s harder to host parties (the expense, the space, the expectations for awesomeness), and it’s easier to ditch out on them and opt for something less emotionally demanding.

But for previous generations, the anatomy of a traditional party was simple. Invite guests (and everyone actually RSVPs). Make food and drinks. Clean your house. Dress nicely. Play music. Enjoy pleasant conversation. Do everything possible to make your guests feel welcome and at home.

Millennials and parties aren't a good match—and it's a bigger problem than you think. Outside of the problematic logistics for hosting parties these days, the last two points challenge millennials the most. As a generation, we’re great at volunteering and contributing to important causes. But when it comes to forming bonds with those closer to us—acquaintances, colleagues, or casual friends—we bristle at the idea of deliberately entertaining them. Having a real conversation is even harder, because it requires more thought and effort than clicking a like button or reblogging a clever post. Instead, we millennials opt for events that require less planning and thoughtful participation: festivals, sporting events, and the endless weekend cycle of drink at a bar —> hook up —> stagger home.

I can’t blame us. Most millennials are working too hard during the week to pay student loans (and achieve all the other aspects of the American Dream) to welcome the social exhaustion that comes with parties. And with our preference toward technology, maybe we don’t want to be entertained by each other anymore—we’d rather just consume the content that others create. Parties don’t cut it because it’s not enough to simply appreciate one another with no strings—phone, blog, or Instagram followers—attached.

While our logic is sensible, the underlying trend behind the death of parties is much more disturbing: it means that millennials have no sense of hospitality or community. Rather than go out of our way to welcome others into our lives and emotions, we prefer isolation. God forbid someone comes between me and my phone/social media/Netflix. It’s sensible… but sad.

I don’t propose bringing parties back, because it sets an unreasonable expectation. But fellow millennials, let’s transfer the ideology of parties to a smaller scale this holiday season. Let’s invite friends over, one or two at a time, and cook a meal for them. Talk to them. Enjoy their company. Perhaps the party will die—but the meaning behind serving others will not.

Do you attend parties, or not? Why? Leave a comment below!

Millennials and parties aren't a good match—and it's a bigger problem than you think.

Comments

  1. says

    This is a FASCINATING post. I have a lot of thoughts but ultimately, I agree with you. I am a millennial and find myself avoiding big parties like the plague. I didn’t really know why but this makes so much sense.

    • gradgirl says

      Yes, Nannette!! I was thinking about it more, and realized that if we ever DO manage to host parties, they’ll probably be glorified Netflix binges. Haha. Thanks for reading! :)

  2. says

    This is awesome. I mean here I am sitting on my blog and I just cancelled to go to a networking event because I am so swamped with work. I will definitely have to share this post on my Facebook page 😉

    Chiara
    chiaramarie.com

  3. says

    I completely disagree! My friends and I love organizing a party around the holidays–we usually do a potluck, and we only invite our closest friends (around 10-12 max). It’s a really great way for us to bond during the holidays and get some time in away from our stressful families. I think you generalizing how millennials don’t like parties is far from accurate, but maybe that’s just how you and your friends act. Good read, though! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • gradgirl says

      Thanks for your comment, Cathy! Yeah, it’s more of a generalization than anything. I do know friends that still enjoy hosting get-togethers, but in general I’d still venture that we “party” far less than generations before us. It would be awesome if more people hosted events like yours!

  4. says

    I totally agree with this!

    I personally LOVE parties and would love to host one, but the truth is that the type of party that I wish to HOST is not the kind of party that millenials want to ATTEND. As you mentioned, most millenials (my friends included) would much rather pre-drink at someones place and then go out to a bar.

    I don’t ever want my place to be the place where people go to “pre” because no one ever respects the property or helps to clean.

    It simply isn’t worth it, even though it would be a dream to have a cute house party :)

  5. says

    I am just before the millennials, but I don’t really attend parties, but that’s because no one throws them! If someone did I would be there! We used to hold dinner parties once a month with a games night with some close friends, but they moved so we haven’t done it since.

    • gradgirl says

      That seems to be a trend–people want to go to those parties, but nobody wants to put in the effort! Sounds like we should host a shindig for everyone in the comments section. 😀 Thanks for reading, Hil!

  6. Samantha Sambile says

    I actually stumbled upon this after googling “why millenials don’t know how to host.” The reason I even searched this was because I’ve tried hosting little get-togethers, cute little brunches, and dinner parties. I agree with Emma, more often than not, people would much prefer to go out to bars or check out the hip new “foodie” restaurant. I’ve always loved party-planning and hosting (took after my mom). I’d love to have a little cocktail bar, a nice table setting, and delicious homecooked meals to serve. I’ve actually fantasized about it in high school… Unfortunately, I was born in the wrong generation for this… :(

    • gradgirl says

      Oh no, Samantha! It sounds like there are still some people out there who would love to attend get-togethers like that–you just gotta find them!

  7. laura says

    i would absolutely host parties if people would actually come. but i’ve tried and failed, on numerous occasions invited a dozen people over and every single one of them declines or cancels. it makes me feel very lonely, so i stopped trying.

    • gradgirl says

      Oh no, Laura! I think all the commenters on this post should get together–it seems there are at least a few people out there who still believe in hosting (and showing up to) parties!

  8. says

    I’m not a millennial but I do hear your frustration. I entertain my friends often and it’s reciprocal. I also sell dinnerware and see that young people are not that interested in it very much. My parents did the MadMen thing. My mother had 2 sets of china, everyday and fine china, and 2 sets of flatware, stainless and sterling. When I got married, she encouraged me to do the same. Many of my friends, including myself, have never touched the fine china since we unwrapped it. It’s high maintenance and we’re workaholics. Not very many people have storage for all that either and it is way more expensive now than it was then.

    But, you can still entertain and select your tableware to match your personality so that when you do have friends over, it’s a different experience for them. I read so many nice blogs by Millennials about cooking, wedding planning, and entertaining, but so much of it is “inspirational” and not real. I fear that at the end of the day, everyone is dreaming on their blogs and no one is having the fun.

    My husband and I joke that we pick our friends based on how well they cook. It’s partially true, but it is my advice. If you enjoy food and hanging out and you invite friends over who are the same, they will reciprocate. If they don’t, rethink your guest list. In the end, eating at home is cheaper than everyone going out. You don’t have to put down a gourmet meal every time. If you eat at your friend’s house, take a really good bottle of wine to experience together (you’re not paying for dinner). Eventually, you will be entertained by your friends and entertaining them. And, you’ll have great conversations!!

    • gradgirl says

      I definitely agree that there’s a mismatch between our social expectations and reality. But I LOVE the idea of reciprocal cooking and it sounds like a great starting point for getting people together. 😀

  9. Medora Heilbron says

    Love this! I am not a millennial and love to entertain. These generational changes are so fascinating and your insight about how technology is driving these behavioral changes makes so much sense. Posting to my blog!

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