Ask the Expert: Naked Tree Party

17 Nov


Very similar to the tree at Rockefeller Center

Ask the Expert is a series where I interview friends and others who are experts in a particular party concept.

For this edition I interviewed Trish Tchume, co-host of the much anticipated annual event known as the Naked Tree Party. Read on for clarification, inspiration, and cultural references.

Everybody’s Invited!: Who exactly is naked at a Naked Tree Party?

Trish Tchume: Ah yes, an important question – as a courtesy to our guests, we do make it clear pretty early on in the invitation that “the tree is naked, not you.” But there is a not-so-secret part of me that hopes against hope every year that we’ll have a ‘Perfect Strangers’-type incident where someone gets confused by the name of the party and hilarity ensues.  As such, I do make a point of inviting all friends who live with recently-emigrated cousins from small Greek islands.  Then I keep my fingers crossed, and wait…

Oh, we also explain in the invitation that each guest should bring an ornament made of found or gently used items.

I think I’m offended. Why not call it a Tree Trimming party?

Because a “Tree Trimming Party” is something hosted by people who “summer” or refer to the thing in their living room as a “Davenport.”

In your opinion, how do NTPs compare to USPs (Ugly Sweater Parties)?

NTPs and USPs are ‘kissing cousins’ as they say (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase – thanks for the opportunity, Everybody’s Invited!) as both are built around a common principle that parties are way better when your friends are encouraged (read: forced) to explore their creative side before they will be let into your apartment.

EI!: Popcorn and cranberry chains – for or against?

For…if the popcorn is found and the cranberries are gently used.

Top three homemade ornaments of all time?

I am a huge fan in general of the ornaments that do NOT stand the test of time.  I have to say, there is absolutely nothing better than pulling out an ornament that was totally relevant at the party but today makes you pause and think, “Oh yeah…Rick James died in 2004.”  To me, that’s the true spirit of the holidays.

I also have a special place in my heart for the ones I like to refer to as ‘panic ornaments’ or “P.O.s.”  From what I’ve observed, P.O.s are made by hastily looking around your apartment, your desk at work or (my personal favorite) by discreetly peeking into trashbins on the walk from the subway and somehow some crazy David Copperfield magic happens (the Vegas one not the Dickens one.)

But in response to your question, the Naked Tree Party was never technically meant to be a competition. If I had to pick, though, I’d say my personal top three would be:

  • Peanut Disco by my friend Tim. A tiny platform made of wood, with 4 peanuts (still in their shells) glued upright to the platform, and a very tiny plastic disco ball suspended overhead. (2004 Naked Tree, Philly)
  • Aviation Influenza Prevention Cards contributed by my friend Rachael. These were a found item. Playing cards + Bird Flu health tips. Obviously. (2008 Naked Tree, NYC)
  • Baby Jesus by my friend Katie. An empty birth control wheel coupled with the working Christmas Lights. Genius. (2006 Naked Tree, NYC)

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