It’s that time of year again. The temperature drops, the crowds thicken and New York bedazzles itself in twinkling lights and jingling bells on every street corner (to the point where the sound is legitimately annoying).
While the cold air and tourist infestation drives most Manhattanites indoors, there is one thing that can coax them out of the woodworks. And that, my friends, is SantaCon.
What is SantaCon, you ask? It is essentially a parade of drunken young adults stampeding through the city dressed as Sir Nicholas himself. If you haven’t witnessed or been a part of this annual phenomenon, we at BuzzTonight strongly recommend that this be the year that you do. Let’s face it – 2016 has been a rollercoaster ride and we all deserve to go out on a high note.
With that said, partaking in this chaotic ruckus is no simple feat (we know from experience). Which is why we have put together a foolproof guide to surviving SantaCon 2016.
First, the deets.
Who: You, your rowdy friends & all of NYC’s 20 & 30-somethings on the naughty list
What: A festive holiday bar crawl across Manhattan
When: Saturday, December 10 @ 10 am
Where: The route will be announced on the night of December 9 – Check the route here!
Why: Because when else is it socially acceptable to publicly day drink in a Santa Suit?!
How: By putting on your most obnoxious Christmas attire and following our survival guide below.
Surviving SantaCon: A Step-by-Step Guide
1. Suit up.
In order to be a part of the debauchery, you must – we repeat, MUST – dress up in festive attire. Sure, you could pull a red sweater out of your closet and call it a day. But we think that’s lame. Acceptable outfits include: Santa Suits (head to toe, hat to boot, the whole get up), Reindeer Onesies (they exist and they are awesome), Elf Costumes (striped pants and pointy ears are strongly encouraged), characters from Christmas movies (see Jack Frost above) and Ugly Sweaters as a last resort. Bottom line: be festive. Or don’t come.
2. Start early, but start at home.
As fun as it may seem to be there when the morning kicks off, the reality is that it’s cold and crowded, plus getting there before 10 cuts into your morning mimosa time. We all remember the year SantaCon started in Williamsburg. Was it fun? Sort of. Was it worth it? Not really. Why deal with the L train on the weekend when you can have a longer pre-game in your heated apartment? Camaraderie is great, but so are those extra drinks you can have before venturing into the chaos. Save the drunken friend-making routine for the bathroom at the bar (trust us, it will happen).
3. Eat breakfast.
We know what you’re thinking. Thanks for the advice, MOM *rolls eyes*. But seriously, if you want to make the day last and not black out before bar #1, we strongly encourage stopping into the corner bodega for an early morning BEC on your way to grab the champagne and OJ. Contrary to popular belief, there are rules that need to be followed, and being a drunken a-hole is going to get you sent home fast. Be drunk, but be nice. Santa is watching.
4. Plan out your route ahead of time. Shrug off the haters.
Or at least plan it to the best of your ability. The official route is announced the night before (December 9), but you can follow along on Twitter (@SantaCon) or check back in here for more details. Many neighborhoods do not welcome (or serve) Santa-clad patrons, so be smart about which bars you try to enter with your jolly-old crew. Guaranteed entry neighborhoods include Murray Hill, East Village and Lower East Side. Wherever you see Santas congregating, you know you’re in the right spot.
5. Expect a line wherever you go.
Because not every bar on the island participates (shocker, right?!), the ones that do partake in the festivities can get crowded. Like, twenty-minute-wait-to-order-a-drink crowded. As the day progresses the lines and wait tend to die down, but for the popular spots, bars will have lines out the door. That is why we recommend spending more time drinking at home (see point #2) so you have a comfortable buzz by the time you reach the bars and the wait for a drink doesn’t seem as annoyingly long.
6. Bring your ID.
It seems simple enough, but do you really want to wait in the line mentioned above, finally get to the front and then realize you forgot your ID? Didn’t think so.
7. Don’t be afraid to stay a while.
Sure, it might sound fun to try and hit as many bars as possible, but from our experience excessive bar hopping takes up a ton of your time (and potentially money). Every time you go to a new bar, you are waiting in another line to get in, another line to order a drink, and possibly paying another cover fee. The event itself is free, but each bar can choose whether or not to charge covers. Our advice: Pick a bar that fits your vibe and stay for a few rounds before checking out a new spot. Your buzz will be stronger, you will be warmer, and you’ll end up with more money to donate to the kids (by the way, SantaCon is a charity event *drops the mic*).
8. Get pizza between bar stops.
Again, carbs. Nothing warms your heart and soul on a chilly winter day like a slice of New York ‘za.
9. Drink beer for the second half of the day.
SantaCon is a marathon, not a sprint. In order to make it through the day, you should drink the harder stuff early on (think mimosas, G&T’s, and so on) and then stick to beer for the afternoon. Taking tequila shots at every bar and chugging mixed drinks is the fast track to passing out on the barstool and getting kicked out of the bar, forcing your elf-friends to leave the festivities and take care of you. Don’t be that guy. Nobody likes a Scrooge ruining their debauchery.
10. Keep the party going into the night.
Still have energy? Eyes still open? Speech not completely slurred? You win! You have successfully beaten SantaCon and come out on top. Party on, my friend. The Lower East Side is sure to be filled with other Christmas conquerors in Santa suits, so go celebrate your victory with even more reindeer games.
11. Or, go home and order Chinese food.
Self-explanatory. When the sun goes down, you’ll probably want to go to sleep too (even though the sun sets at like, 4 pm). We can’t all be champions. Go home, get some shut eye, and get ready to go back out in a few hours. Or, pass out and wake up Sunday morning in your Santa suit with fried rice everywhere wondering what the hell happened to you the day before. That is what we call a successful SantaCon.