No matter how hard she tries to avoid it, during the Holidays it is almost a guarantee that the Misanthrope will find herself at a party, a gathering of a bunch of people she knows from work, or through a friend of a friend. A mish mosh of people she wouldn’t want to spend four minutes in an elevator with, let alone the requisite 60 minutes to an hour and a half at a party making small talk and avoiding conversation landmines like Obamacare or the benefits vs. detriments of Walmart.

My fellow Scrooges, you cannot skip these parties. They are either work functions to which you must to put in an appearance, or parties hosted by people you don’t completely hate, so you must show your face. You may be wondering, “Why can’t I just pretend to be sick?” Because feigning illness is for high school kids. But our second Holiday List for the Misanthrope will provide you with five professional tools to survive Holiday Parties.

Week Two: Holiday Parties

Earplugs

We’ve all been to a party where there is one guy or gal in the center of the room sucking all of the air out. Every time someone starts to tell a story that is moderately interesting, this nitwit jumps in with the “one up” game. “Oh, you burned your finger? I set my pants on fire.” This person is typically loud and obnoxious and like a cat to the only allergic person in the room, he’ll find you and want to talk to you for hours. If you’ve got your earplugs in, all you have to do is the following: shrug, smile, and nod. That guy will go on all night. The next day he’ll think he had the best conversation with you (he only wants to hear himself talk anyway), and your only memory will be the sound of white noise.

Drink Early, Drink Heavily

In some situations it may become necessary to be the party drunk. I don’t recommend this for work functions, but for social gatherings, sure, why not? You don’t know most of those people anyway. To avoid mindless chatter, I recommend throwing back a few Jameson and Gingers starting the moment you walk in the door. You’re going to need to have a new drink in your hand every fifteen minutes for at least the first hour. Once you’ve passed the point of being fun drunk and are working on being sloppy, no fun embarrassing drunk, no one will want to talk to you anymore. Find a sofa, curl up and pass out. As G. Dubya once said, Mission Accomplished.

Party Hop

The best way to avoid being stuck hanging out with a few annoying people all night is to hang out with a bunch of annoying people all night. Every once in a while the stars will align an you’ll have invitations to attend three to four parties all over town on the same night. Accept all of them. If you find yourself with no invites, pretend you have multiples – I always do. I know, this sounds like a nightmare, but it is actually brilliant. You won’t be able to stay at any one party long enough to have any “real” conversations; as soon as someone starts to irritate you it’s off to the next party! This can be a little tough on your gas tank and you won’t be able to drink much, but you can satisfy up to four friends you barely like by attending all of their parties in one night and never have to actually “connect” to a single person. And if you’re pretending to have multiple parties, you can be home before the bad sketches start on Saturday Night Live.

Take Your Dog

I’m not going to lie, this can be tricky, but if executed correctly this is an almost infallible tactic. You’ll first need to make sure that Fido is welcome in your host’s home, once she’s been given the OK, you’re gold. This works best with small exceptionally cute dogs with personality. Throughout the evening you’ll be afforded the opportunity to excuse yourself from excruciating small talk by taking your pup for pee breaks, when your Ex shows up with his new girlfriend, you can play fetch with your dog to avoid the awkwardness of the situation, and dogs are a very good judges of character: if she growls at that guy trying to give you punch, you know it’s laced with GHB and not to drink it.

Everyone loves to see a dog coming, but no one likes a barking restless dog. As the evening goes on your dog will start to get a little stir-crazy. She may even start barking and harassing guests to play. This is your cue to leave. Don’t let your dog overstay her welcome or the memory your hosts will have of the dog will be negative. You want the memory of Fido to be cute and playful so she’ll be welcomed back next time you need an exit strategy.

Start to Love Football

It’s The Holidays so there is almost always going to be a football game on television. Your mission is to find the TV and be the one to let the host know that you’ve got money on the game and you really need to see if the Jets (that’s a football team right?) are gonna pull it out. I find football about as difficult to follow as a soap opera plot, but that’s the entire point. You’ve got at least four hours to figure out what the hell is going on. Get so involved in working out what 1st and 10 means and what a Tebow is that when people come over to talk to you they think you’re really into the game! Warning: you will need to figure out what to do with halftime and commercial breaks. I suggest combining Take Your Dog and Love Football as a perfect avoidance technique.

For traditionalists

**If all else fails, you can pretend to be sick, but everyone will know you’re lying so you’re going to have to pull out a kidney to pull it off.