Holiday-party crashing

Who throws the best blowouts and how to get in.

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Beating security is not easy.

First, a disclaimer. Holiday office festivities are notoriously difficult to enter if you're not supposed to be there. Barring nonemployees (even spouses) is quite common, and firms that throw the most lavish bashes will take extra security steps, like requiring invitations or checking company IDs.

That said, if you possess a steely confidence and a preternatural affinity for adventure and an open bar, it's not impossible to weasel your way into some incredible venues and hobnob with industry titans and minor local celebs. Here's some helpful dirt.

Media parties (since that's our biz)

Media websites and blogs such as Gawker and the Observer typically leak the date, time and venue of the biggest media office parties in the beginning of December. Even better, nearly all publications publish a list of their employees in a printed or online masthead. Attend a party armed with a name, the less conspicuous the better. Passing yourself off as David Remnick won’t get you as far as being the assistant to the director of marketing. Below, a couple of recommended targets:

  • Each year News Corp, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, rents out six floors in the New York Hilton for its 6,000 New York–based employees and their significant others.
  • Last year Wenner Media spent its yearly party budget celebrating Rolling Stone’s 1.000th issue, and by December there was little left over to throw an over-the-top production. This year, there should be a little more green to spare for a typically rollicking Jann Wenner affair.

The Fort Knoxes

Some holiday parties are harder to get into than the latest Olson-attended club. The MTV party, held each year in the Hammerstein Ballroom, and the Vogue holiday party require invites as well as company IDs. You pretty much need to be a party-crashing pro to infiltrate these bashes.

The location strategy

Office holiday parties usually convene at two types of locations: trendy of-the-moment lounges and bars or kitschy themed venues.

The Gansevoort Hotel, in the Meatpacking District, falls into the first category. Both the restaurant and bar and the rooftop lounge get booked up pretty quickly.

Meanwhile, Bowlmor Lanes, just south of Union Square, is a veritable holiday-party mill. According to sales reps, about ten holiday parties per week are set through December.

In either case, try hanging out at commonly booked places in advance. If you establish yourself as a regular (even temporarily) and befriend the staff, it could pay off later on.

General crashing tips

The most important trick is to look the part. Wearing jeans and a ratty T-shirt to an actuarial firm’s after-work open bar won’t convince the doorman. If you’re trying to sneak into Marc Jacobs’s ball, you’d better know the dress code (last year it was Venetian Renaissance wear), and the theme is usually held tightly under wraps.

Most importantly, approach the door with confidence, commit to your story and don't worry about rejection. 'Cause it's gonna happen.