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Throw a Festivus party

Filed Under: seasonal, entertaining

Are you more of a "Bah, humbug!" person than a "Ho, ho, ho!" person? Well that doesn't mean you have to avoid all your friends until January. Round up your most curmudgeonly pals for a Festivus party.

For the uninitiated, Festivus is a holiday created by Seinfeld character Frank Costanza (father of George). After a Jingle All The Way-type altercation in a toy store, Frank decides he's fed up with the commercialization of the holiday season and creates his own holiday. Celebrated on December 23rd, Frank's Festivus celebration involved the following:
  1. An aluminum pole (Frank finds tinsel distracting)
  2. Feats of strength (Frank's preferred feat is wrestling with George)
  3. Airing of grievances (This is my favorite part; imagine a holiday where you get to tell your family members just how crazy they make you.)
Since Festivus made its debut on network TV, parties celebrating the holiday have become more common (though by no means widespread).

Intrigued? Here are some tips for throwing your own Festivus party:
  • Research: At the very least you should watch the Seinfeld episode that started it all (Season 9, Episode 166, a.k.a The Strike). You might also want to check out the book Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us for even more humorous details. For what I suspect are more traumatic details, try The Real Festivus by Daniel O'Keefe, a former Seinfeld writer whose own real father created Festivus in the 1960s (no, I'm not kidding).

  • Food: According to Wikipedia, the Costanzas are eating pasta or meatloaf in the Seinfeld episode; O'Keefe told the Washington Post that his family had turkey or ham. I think as long as there's booze and no cookies decorated like Christmas trees or gingerbread men, you're good.
  • Decorations: Most Seinfeld fans would probably say, you should have an aluminum pole. But frankly, you can probably substitute any sort of pole or tall thin object instead - I'm pretty sure Frank used a pole because it was what he had. You can actually buy Festivus poles these days, but I think Frank Costanza would disapprove. O'Keefe's Festivus didn't even have a pole, so there you go. Instead, they had a clock and a bag; why, I have no idea. I say whatever you choose is fine.
  • Activities: In the original Festivus, the O'Keefe family did, in fact, have an airing of grievances, but no feats of strength. Instead O'Keefe's father would tape record his family recounting the year. There would also be poetry recitations and apparently lots of very bizarre music. I'm gonna recommend going with Frank's version instead. Cathartic as it would be at to air real grievances against present company, you might want to stick to airing of general grievances (like, "why do NYC subway passengers always try to get on the train before everyone's finished getting off!!!). And, unless yours is a buff crowd, you might want to take a broader view of what constitutes a "feat of strength". Thumb-wresting, for example, or Rock Paper Scissors, Twister, or a Karaoke Revolution challenge are all less likely than wrestling to land you or your pals in the ER.
  • Gifts: Frank Costanza eschewed gifts altogether and the O'Keefe family apparently gave each other rocks, toilet paper, or things they already owned. I think Festivus is the perfect opportunity to resurrect those truly awful gifts from holidays past, and re-gift them to your pals. Making crappy presents from holidays past disappear is most definitely a Festivus miracle.

Happy Festivus!!!


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