What feels like a long time ago in what feels like a place far, far away, people used to have parties at their homes. It didn’t really matter what the age, gender, race, or any other demographic information was, because everyone has, at some point, had a reason to throw a party. Kid’s birthday? Check. Local football team is in the Super Bowl?* Check. Retiring from a career? Check? The earth completes a rotation around the sun? Check. Someone died? Check. See? It doesn’t matter. Parties were indiscriminate parts of everyone’s lives.
I think for many of us, the most fun parties we attend are between the ages of 18 and 25 or so. Even if one didn’t attend college, most people have been to a college party. And even after you graduated and get a job, you’re in a great situation because you’re young enough to party hard, but mature enough to have money and to clean up promptly the following morning. For me (and many other folks around my age), one staple of parties was beer pong.
If you don’t know what beer pong is, it’s when two teams of two pour two beers equally into ten Solo cups per team. The teams then take turns throwing a ping pong ball towards the other team’s cups. When a ball lands in a cup, a member of the team to which the cup belongs must drink the contents of the cup and remove the cup from the field of play. Last team with a cup remaining wins. Beer pong is incredibly popular. There’s even a professional league that hosts something called the “World Series of Beer Pong.”
I still enjoy a game of beer pong, or at least I did, pre-Covid. However, I’m starting to get to a place where I don’t always want beer. So that got me thinking about appropriate pongs for different types of parties. Without further ado, here what I came up with:
Juice Pong for Kids’ Parties
Picture this: You’re at a house filled with a bunch of rambunctious elementary-school aged kids. Maybe one of them is yours, maybe you’re an aunt or uncle to one of them, or maybe you’re actually friends with the host parents and are just showing up to provide some support. The kids, as kids tend to be, are rowdy, and you want to figure out a way to corral the kids into an organized activity without being lame. Solution: juice pong. All you need is a short table that kids can see over, 20 airplane cocktail cups, and the juices of your choice. I think for the sake of argument we’ll count Kool-Aid, Capri Sun, and other kid’s drinks as juices. Teach kids the basic rules (found here), and then just be a really enthusiastic spectator.
Now, the kids are having fun because it’s a new game and possibly one they’ve seen adults play, the party is organized because the kids are all in one place, and you’re having fun because how could it not be fun to watch kids play beer pong?
Wine Pong for Pregaming the Opera
Or the theatre, or the VIP room at a casino in Monte Carlo, or a baroque music concert, or something else considered high class. Think about it. Going out to nice, classy things can be very enjoyable on occasion. That said, I still get uncomfortable wearing neckties, so finding a way to redneck-up the situation a bit would help me get in the correct headspace for a night out. Plus, drinks at fancy stuff are always either free or super expensive. No in-between. Either a person is carrying a tray of champagne and will take orders for other drinks, or it’s $12.50 for one bottle of Shiner. Pregaming events is a tale as old as time, probably. It helps you be cost-effective, and it can help you just mentally prepare for something that you’re maybe only mostly comfortable with. Like wearing neckties. Or going to the opera. I mean, just look at that picture. You can’t tell me you don’t want to drink a little at home before sitting through a couple hours of that.
Gross Stuff Pong for Youth Church Events
I first want to give credit to my wife, who gave me this idea. She didn’t want her name in the article, but this was her idea and it’s brilliant. You know how a lot of churches and other religious organizations will have classes and events aimed at teenagers? This is for that. Whether you’re the teenager or the pastor or the adult chaperone, there’s a way to have fun in here. So here’s how it works: You take a punch of two ounce portion cups and fill them with stuff you wouldn’t normally consume in that form. Soy sauce. French dressing. Vinegar. Day-old, room-temperature coffee. Cod liver oil. Mayonnaise. Tabasco sauce. Whatever. Solids, liquids, high viscosity, low viscosity. Whatever. Then you place those portion cups into Solo cups and play pong as normal. Doesn’t this just scream teen-based church event? Or maybe even like a Boy Scout camp? Either way, it sounds gross but also like something that would be really fun to be a part of exactly once.
Wing Sauce Pong for Sporting Event Watch Parties
Sporting event watch parties are classic pieces of Americana. Normally there’s a veggie tray, chicken wings, pizza, some sort of cream-cheese-based dip for the chips, a bunch of people in jerseys, cold beer, and lively conversation. So, how do you make something that’s already fun even more fun? You play wing sauce pong! So here’s how it works: you need a bunch of cooked but unseasoned chicken wings, and as many different sauces as possible. Hot, mild, Buffalo, lemon-pepper, jerk, honey chipotle, Asian zing, etc. Just look up a Buffalo Wild Wings menu and try to buy as many of those sauces as possible. You’ll also need Solo cups that you can write the names of the different sauces on. Maybe one cup of each sauce per team. Then fill the cups with water because filling them with sauce is a waste. Play pong as normal, and each time a ball lands in a cup, a person must grab a wing, dip it heartily in that sauce, eat the wing, and remove the cup from play.
LaCroix Pong for Hipsters
If you’re at some hipster party where instead of normal party stuff it’s just Mumford & Sons songs on shuffle as people discuss the finer points of Infinite Jest, this is the game for you. Go to a grocery store and grab one pack of each flavor of LaCroix (or store-brand flavored club soda), and play beer pong with that. If it’s a party where drinking is acceptable, throw a splash of vodka in there, too. Nothing says “I’m a hipster and I like to party” like downing a Pamplemousse LaCroix while everyone sings a Lumineers song in the background. And the best part is that you can discuss the flavors. “I used to like the passionfruit one, but then they sold out by selling it on Amazon so I only drink pamplemousse now.” “Oh, yeah, I’ve been drinking peach-pear LaCroix since like, 2011. Yeah, someone gave me one when I ran out of Papst Blue Ribbon as I was looking for old Broadway soundtracks and knit vests at the thrift store.”
Prune Juice Pong for Old Folks Who Wish to Stay Regular
Old folks sometimes need some prune juice to stay regular. I, for one, hate prune juice. But, if you must drink prune juice, you might as well make a game out of it, right? This is exactly what it sounds like. Put a little prune juice in some Solo cups, wheel grandma up to the table, and let ‘er rip. After that, it’s normal play but with one bonus rule: First person to leave the table because nature calls has to give their dessert to someone else. If the retirement home is serving banana pudding for dinner at 4:00, then you have to give that pudding to someone who didn’t have to leave the game. Imagine walking into a retirement home and seeing this. “Hi, Nana, so good to see you.” “Not, now, dear, I’m on a hot streak and got balls back. Island, by the way” she says to an opponent before looking back to you. “Let Nana sink this shot then I’ll come give you a butterscotch candy.” Hilarious.
Hard Liquor Pong for Post-Covid
Now, look. I don’t know when we’re going to be able to play beer pong again in this country. Covid seems to get a little more complicated every day. And even when Covid is under control, there’s no telling how long it will take to get back to some semblance of normal. But I can tell you this: whenever Covid has passed, I want to go to a house party and pretend I’m  again. I feel like I have about 10 really blowout party experiences left in me. I don’t like crowds anymore, I can’t drink too much beer because I get bloated, I have to have Tums with me when I travel in case I eat something too spicy before bed… I’m lame. But I think I could probably be a party animal again about 10 times going forward. There’s no better potential use for one of those occasions than when Covid is under control.
So when things are back to normal, I want to make it happen. The quickest way to do that is a hard liquor pong party. Put a shot of whatever into each cup and play the game. Sure, you’ll probably only get two or so games in before you can’t play anymore. But who cares? Covid will be in the past, and you haven’t seen this many people in one place in months! Live it up a little. It’s okay. But maybe make sure there aren’t any kids or cameras at this party. I miss the days when you could do stupid stuff and it wouldn’t end up on Facebook.
*For Cowboys fans younger than me, the Super Bowl is this big game they play at the end of the season to see who is the best football team in the NFL. Rumor has it the Cowboys used to play in these “Super Bowls” with some regularity a long time ago, but who knows.