sponsored by Tullamore D.E.W.
© Lighthouse Film Company / Corbis

© Lighthouse Film Company / Corbis

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving
And all through the bar,
Your old classmates were stirring
And partying like rock stars.

There are official holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Arbor Day (gotta love those trees!). Then there are unofficial ones like Opening Day, Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you) and the granddaddy of them all Thanksgiving Eve.

The night before Thanksgiving has grown into one of the best celebrations of the year. People return en masse to their hometowns and are itching for a reason to go out. It’s a night where you get to hang out with your childhood friends, relive glory days (perhaps even sing “Glory Days”), and maybe, just maybe, rekindle old flames.

But Thanksgiving Eve is also a holiday littered with pitfalls. One wrong move and you could be known around town as the “guy who professed his undying love to the former cheerleader in front of her MMA fighter husband.” On the flip side, if you play it smooth, you could end up as the envy of your entire graduating class and finally achieve that popularity that was so elusive in high school.

To help you achieve the latter result, we put together this handy guide to surviving Thanksgiving Eve like a pro.

1. Find Your Tribe We’ve all seen James Bond movies where 007 walks into a room solo and everyone’s heads turn. Well, movies aren’t real and you’re not James Bond. Having all that attention focused on you is uncomfortable and can lead to a frozen-like-a-deer-in-headlights paralysis. It’s better to go with strength in numbers by heading out with friends and not just showing up to some random bar. That way you instantly have someone to talk to the moment you walk in the bar and don’t have to pretend you’re texting someone when you’re really just scrolling through Instagram.

2. Be Fashionably Late (But Not Too Late) This is especially true for folks who have decamped to big cities like New York, where a night out may not start until early the next morning. Last call comes much earlier at your local suburban bar and you want to make sure that you have enough time to have a great time. But you also don’t want to look like a senior citizen showing up for the early-bird special. In general, showing up to the bar between 9:30 and 10:30 should put you right in the sweet spot.

3. Drink Like a Man You’ve matured (maybe not all the way, which is a good thing), and your drink should reflect your true character. Whether you drink it neat, as a shot with a beer, or in an Irish Mule, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey will serve you well on Thanksgiving Eve. It’s a whiskey that makes a statement about your taste level and character. Drinking Tullamore D.E.W. also tends to draw other unique characters into your midst, which is always the recipe for a legendary night.

4. Don’t Be Boring On Thanksgiving Eve you will be talking to a lot of people you haven’t seen since high school (or last Thanksgiving Eve). No need to bore everyone with the details of your latest Excel spreadsheet. Stick to the highlights—trips, concerts, sporting events—and keep it brief. People don’t want to hear you talk about how awesome you are all night. Ask questions and find out what other people have been up to. And whatever you do, don’t try and show off by talking about how much money you make.

5. Look The Part Even if it still fits, this is not the night to wear your high school football jersey. People will be checking out your style and you don’t want them to think that you’re the guy who never left high school like Ben Affleck’s character in Dazed and Confused. A good pair of jeans, a simple button down and cool sneakers will work in just about every situation. The goal is to look put together without trying too hard. And don’t try and hop on the latest fashion trend to try and show everyone how “hip” you are. It’s a move that’s destined to fail. Stick with the classics, and you’ll be in good shape.

6. Keep an Open Mind Everyone went to a high school with a so-called “nerd” who then went on to sell his startup for a bajillion dollars. If you want to score an invite to his yacht in St. Tropez, don’t get caught up in the old clique divisions. High school is weird for everyone—popular kids and outsiders alike. Thanksgiving Eve is about showing that you can move past that weirdness and have a great time. You’ll be surprised how cool that guy or girl you couldn’t stand 10 years ago turned out to be.

7. Beware the Old Flame When you play with fire, you can get burned. So approach that old crush with extreme caution. Under no circumstances should your opening line be, “Hey, Jenny. I haven’t seen you in 10 years, I used to draw pictures of you in my chemistry notebook.” Even if that worked (it won’t), what are you going to do? Hook up on the pull-out couch in your parents’ basement? The best you can hope for is that you set the stage for ongoing conversations post-Thanksgiving Eve so act accordingly.

8. Keep It in Control The days of impressing people with how many shots you can do are over. It’s fine to have a good time, but if you find yourself looking at a lampshade and thinking it would make an awesome hat, it’s time to chill. Keep them laughing with you and not at you and remember the ever-watching eye of social media. The last thing you want to do is end up in an infamous Instagram, Twitter, Vine, or Snapchat post that goes viral. Also, it’s much easier to be stuck next to your awkward uncle at Thanksgiving dinner when you don’t have a raging hangover.

9. Buy a Round You’ve got a job so don’t be shy about spreading some holiday cheer. You’d be surprised how many long-held high school grudges instantly vanish when you buy someone a drink. Just make sure that you don’t pick up the round at last call when everyone in the bar tries to hop in on your order.

10. Don’t Drive It should go without saying, but don’t drink and drive. For starters, it’s stupid. Secondly, Uber is everywhere now, so as long as your phone has batteries (charge it beforehand!) you can get a safe ride home. Thirdly, cops are out in full force on Thanksgiving Eve. Finally, it’s stupid.