Homecoming has, for the past four years, been unequivocally my favorite holiday. Each year, just before Berkshire residents turn up their collars against the bitter winter and hopefully just before the first snowfall, hundreds of Ephs return to the Purple Valley with the hearty promise of the company of current and former students, the sweet reminder of everything sacred at Williams and, like any tradition worth having, football.
In addition to these hallmarks of a truly great holiday, Homecoming is steeped in traditions that encourage a bit of debauchery. While I’d never advocate anything more than light drinking to put you in the right frame of mind, Homecoming is a holiday that encourages you to plan your alcohol consumption carefully. As the campus adage goes, Homecoming is “a marathon, not a sprint,” so without a good game plan, you can easily end up looking more like a sloppy Lord Jeff than a dignified Eph. As a bit of a Homecoming veteran and a lot of a Homecoming enthusiast, I offer some advice for making Homecoming a huge victory without needing to throw up a Hail Mary. Here’s how to do Homecoming right.
Homecoming starts a week in advance (as we’re publishing this on a Wednesday, you’re slacking but not out of the game). You should schedule your Dunkin’ Donuts order immediately. You’ll need to spring for a couple dozen donuts (yes, two dozen; you’ll thank me postgame when there’s still a Boston Cream), at least a dozen bagels and a carton of hot chocolate. No, this is not all for you. You’re doing Homecoming right, so you’ve clearly selected a guest list of the finest Ephs to join your breakfast soiree. Pickup should, of course, happen early Saturday morning – you don’t want to get stuck in a huge line, and 10 a.m. is the latest acceptable start time for Homecoming.
Dunkin’ in hand, you’ll now enjoy the greatest thing about your morning: 10 a.m. mimosas. I remember my first mimosa. No, actually, I do. It was Homecoming morning. For those of you unfamiliar, a mimosa is about equal parts orange juice and champagne (if you can call Andre champagne; I wholeheartedly can). While I usually shy away from admitting to liking girly drinks because I have considerable street cred to uphold, a mimosa on Homecoming is undoubtedly my favorite drink. The fizziness, the sweetness, the fact that you’re drinking a mimosa from a red plastic cup: This is a moment you need to savor. All of these factors contribute to the best way to start your morning.
Next, you’ll need your carton of hot chocolate. The key component to the hot chocolate is a healthy dose of peppermint schnapps. Veterans will pick up Dr. McGillicuddy’s, the first name in peppermint schnapps. I recommend going for a relatively low proof. You want to preserve the taste, and let’s be honest, it’s about 11 a.m. by this point.
My next recommendation is probably the most controversial. I personally believe that part and parcel of Homecoming is honoring all things Williams. Unfortunate though it may be, Keystone Light has likely been a huge part of your time at Williams. Look, it’ll cost you $15, and it’ll taste like freshman year. Neither of those things is horrible. A game or two of flip cup or Beirut, and you’ll be in a pretty nostalgic place – which is how you know it’s just about time to hit the tailgates.
The tailgates are important. This is when you’re going to run into every alum in recent memory, and it’s going to warm your soul. You should find a fully cooked burger quickly (smart and safe drinking requires protein). Once you’ve secured your burger, you’re ready to have a Kodak moment – or 100 – with some of the smartest, prettiest, most interesting people you’ll ever meet: Williams students and grads. It’s okay to linger at the tailgates for an absurdly long time and soak up the awesomeness of your friends. Offerings of undercooked burgers and bags of stale Ruffles pale in comparison to the reminiscences about youthful antics that the tailgate gives you time to ponder with friends.
Unfortunately, many otherwise intelligent Ephs overlook the importance of the postgame. Most of the alums will be shipping back to the real world on Sunday (and you’ll be shipping back to Sawyer), so it’s important that you’re ready to rally for evening festivities. While some may require a postgame nap, there’s an equally restorative technique. Curl up on a couch with your favorite Ephs, order way too much Domino’s pizza (Cinna Stix not optional) and pop in your favorite DVD. Pick the DVD carefully; this is not the time to snuggle over A Beautiful Mind, so you don’t want to stray too far from the Adam Sandler range.
Rested and recuperated, your Homecoming day is surely not over – we were 100 percent serious about this being a marathon. The cap to your Homecoming day should be a walk down memory lane for your alum friends. Naturally, this evening will require a full Williamstown bar crawl. My recommendation is to start on the edges of campus. You’ll want to make your way to Hops & Vines and Water Street Grill before the remaining school spirit from the football game begins to wane. Don’t scrimp on the pub fare, as a good plate of nachos goes a long way to reenergizing your crew and encouraging some quality bondy over cheesy, greasy goodness.
Next, you’ll want to make your way over to the Purple Pub, with its cozy, congenial atmosphere designed particularly for conversation in the softly-lit wood paneled bar. Following the Pub, your last stop will be the Red Herring, the home to every good Ephs’ 21st birthday celebration and the joint that was surely a regular hot spot for many alums and current students.
As much as Homecoming is synonymous with celebrating and drinking, it’s really about the opportunity to express your love for the people who have made your four years at Williams fantastic. So drink up or don’t, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to chat, hug and cheer. It’s the best holiday out there, and it’s only coming once a year.