Apps for the last minute parties

New Year’s Eve brings with it stress. And last-minute parties to arrange. So we’ve put together a list of apps and sites you can use to get everything you need to prep for a party at the last minute, from venue to balloons. Sorry, last we checked, ordering an elephant and booze is still illegal in this country.

Invite the gang

What’s a party without an invitation? Forget the humdrum Google Hangouts, Facebook events or WhatsApp groups and create a proper invitation. Continue reading “Apps for the last minute parties”

The making of a gadget free party

This month-end, throw a bash out of kilter by unplugging your friends and family


To make sure your guests know that you are serious about your gadget-free party, ask them to switch off the phones, or even confiscate their phones, politely. Parties nowadays are chock-a-block with screen scrolling, the selfie-mafia and people who can’t talk to another person without thumb-typing a tweet or pouting for yet another groupie shot. If you’re tired of all the phubbing, or phone snubbing, you get from a device-glued friend, this party season treat your family and friends to a digital detox by prepping a device-free party. Here’s how you can perform the miracle.

Find a postbox

Start with yourself. Send invites through the snail mail (remember that mailing system in which you have to look for a little red oblong thing called the postbox?). That means no Facebook message invite or a WhatsApp group invite. Instead, sit down, draw, write, create a handmade card, or if you don’t have time, log on to Quilling Treasures ( ) to make a few cards. Now find out your friends addresses with a call and then go find a postbox to mail them. Simple, no?

RSVP, no phones

Cellphones have become an extended third arm for people, so don’t think you can get away with planning a surprise device-free party. Unless you want to turn all your friends into enemies, be polite and ask friends to come prepared for the digital detox. Spell out what it means—no smartphones, no tablets, no television, nothing that’s connected to Internet (including fitness bands) and nothing that beeps occasionally (even pagers). It shouldn’t be a shock for the invitees or you might find that some of them are offended when you grab their phones.

Confiscate all technology

To make sure your guests know that you are serious about this gadget-free party, ask them to switch off the phones, or even confiscate their phones, politely. This party season opt for sketching instead of taking photos. If someone feels jittery and almost has a heart attack at the idea of being unreachable for a few hours, urge them to keep their device on silent, but do take it away from the guest. Put all these gadgets in a tech box and stash it somewhere everyone can see. And we mean all devices—smartphones, tablets, smartwearables, watches, everything that can come between face-to-face conversations.

Sketch a selfie

If someone wants to use his/her camera to record the wondrous conversations and moments that you’re experiencing, hand them a pen and paper (have lots of those around). Now ask them to record, the old-fashioned way. Write, sketch, draw, doodle anything to recreate the experiences that they’re witnessing. Post the party, order frames from Pepperfry ( ), ( ) or other shopping websites, frame the creation and send it as a thank-you gift.

Keep board games

Play sci-fi themed board games. To keep people from scrolling, add a healthy dose of competition among the guests with board games. Instead of the usual Ludo, Snakes and Ladders or Pictionary, try games meant for adults. Blah Games ( ) stocks complex fantasy, sci-fi themed and war games (such as Star Wars and Earth Reborn). Or if you’ve not planned ahead and want to try out a game which you played in your childhood, head to Traditional Games ( ) to find one that suits your party best. The website has rules for all traditional Indian games.

Cook together

If you have a small and intimate gathering, ask your friends to get involved with the party.Cook a recipe together or do a potluck. Divide responsibilities so that everyone works on it together and keeps busy. For recipe inspirations, head to

Get a few tapes

Listen to music the retro way. Ask your friends to fish out their favourite tapes from the attic and bring them to the party. Bicker on which song you want to listen to first, argue on the positives of a 1990s cheesy Bollywood song versus Madonna crooning Like A Virgin. Laugh, make fun of bad choices you made when you were younger. If you don’t have a boombox, get Philips CD Soundmachine ( , Rs.3,499). It plays tape, CD, MP3, even records tape to CD. Keep musical instruments Remember how we all used to play antakshari for hours together? If you have friends who like music, ask them to bring along their guitars and percussion instruments. Before you know, you will have all at the party humming and singing along. And if you have the budget, buy an instrument or two from Bajaao ( ), which has a large collection of acoustic string, and Indian instruments.

First published in Mint. Read the complete article here.

Boring party survival 101

Bring in some cheer at a lacklustre get-together with the help of your smartphone




It’s that time of the year again—when long-lost aunts, bosses you can’t stand for more than 5 minutes in a day, and colleagues whose names you don’t remember invite you to parties you cannot always refuse to attend. So you dress up and head out for evenings that are full of forced festive cheer. Instead of skulking in a corner and morosely nursing a drink, here’s how you can convert your phone into a one-stop entertainment hub and perhaps scrape through the dull dos. And no, our entertainment means are not restricted to watching a movie, checking notifications or playing a game on a smartphone.

Break the ice

It’s easier to slip into the virtual world in a place where you are a stranger or snoop around other people’s lives on social networks. Instead, try something a bit harder—like starting a conversation with someone new. Take banter cues from Conversation Shaker (iOS only) which offers interesting topics based on different situations. Shake the phone to see the next conversation starter. If your style is witty, head on to Hypotheticals, an iPhone app with a huge collection of funny conversation starters.

Conversation Shaker and Hypotheticals are available for free on iTunes.

Gaze at the stars

Not able to come up with clever quips? Get people to look at the night sky instead. Head out into the open to see all the constellations you have heard of (and some you haven’t) with Google Sky Map ( Sky Map turns your Android-device into a window to the night sky. All you need to do is launch the app and point it to the sky. The app reflects the night accurately in terms of stars, constellations, planets, meteor showers and more. You can zoom in to the Sky Map, turn on the night mode so your eyes don’t need to adjust and even “time travel” by seeing how the same sky looked in another time and date. The perfect way to happily spend time without saying a word.

Google Sky Map (, available for free on Google Play.

Meet a stranger

There are others out there in the party, equally socially-challenged, bored and looking for some company. The Locals’ button in MeetMe, a proximity-based chat app and social network, uses your location through GPS to tell you of people in the same area as you. Start chatting and you might just hit it off. If you don’t find anyone in your party on the app, try Twoo, yet another app which helps you meet new people using your GPS. Play a game, hangout in the virtual world and you might just want to meet in the real one. Or choose to keep it anonymous with WhosHere, which allows you to chat with people nearby without revealing your phone number, email or instant messaging (IM) address.

MeetMe and Twoo are available for free on iTunes and Google Play. You can also and WhosHere is available for free on iTunes and Google Play.

Swap faces

A good laugh can turn a boring party into a fun one in seconds. Click a picture of the people in front of you and swap their faces in the photo. Face Swap automatically detects faces and makes it easy for you to switch, rotate, and adjust the heads on other bodies. If you prefer replacing faces with zombie cartoons, do it with Trollolol, which automatically detects faces in pictures and swaps them with troll and zombie faces. Share the images with the new friends you make.

Face Swap is available for Rs.110 on Google Play and Amazon, and for Rs.55 on iTunes. Trollolol is available for free on iTunes and Google Play.

Have some fun with drinks

If the party is so boring that there’s no other option than to give in and get drunk, why not drink in style? Ask the bartender for the list of spirits available and then choose the most exotic cocktail name for him to make. Take help from Mixology Drink & Cocktail Recipes (,which helps you browse through more than 7,900 cocktails, martinis, shooters, jello shots, hot drinks and punches. There’s a Random Drinks tab if you want to explore drinks and recipes and a Liquor Cabinet tab that lets you enter all the liquor you have and then gives you a recipe accordingly. Or choose to get drunk in spy style with The Covert Cocktail(, which catalogues…


Read the complete article on Live Mint website

How to fortify your stomach

In this season of partying and eating out, the digestive system can go for a toss. Take precautions like avoiding salads or having an early dinner before heading out



Our stomach might be able to bear partying once a week but an every night affair plays havoc with it. “Eating rich food that too at odd hours is not good for anyone,” says Rupali Datta, nutritionist at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, Delhi. Add to that excessive consumption of alcohol and before you know it, you are stricken with flatulence, nausea and that feeling of wanting to throw up. So does that mean you ignore all invites to parties this season? Not really.

“Moderation is the key. If your limit, for example, is two glasses of beer, then stick to that, even if it’s free,” says Datta. Moreover, if you are partying everyday, give your system a break by having an early dinner at home before you head to the do.

Once at the party, avoid raw food, including salads, and all milk-based products as they spoil easily. “Caterers during the party season buy in bulk, so the ingredients might not be fresh,” says S.P. Misra, professor, department of gastroenterology, Moti Lal Nehru Medical College, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, adding: “Uncooked food items have pre-formed toxins that can cause infections and lead to food poisoning, gastroenteritis and loose motions.”

During the day, go on a diet of liquid and semi-liquid foods. “Liquids not only give your stomach a break, they also help in dissolving fats allowing substances to pass through more easily,” says Datta. Keep away from caffeine which dehydrates the body and rehydrate your body with lukewarm water, fruit juice, lemon water, herbal tea and soups. Here are some other ways to prepare your stomach for the festive indulgence.

Preen on prebiotics

Prebiotics, the non-digestible food in your intestine which helps probiotic bacteria thrive, help in preventing food poisoning and stomach aches, according to the study “Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics: Gut and Beyond” by US-based biotechnology company Kibow Biotech Inc., and published in July in the journal Gastroenterology Research and Practice . The research revealed that prebiotics are effective in preventing not only gut-based disorders like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), digestion and traveller’s diarrhoea but also in maintaining general health. Help the little invisible bacteria friends of yours with a healthy dose of onions, garlic, leeks, legumes, lentils, bananas or asparagus, all of which contain prebiotics.

Sip on red wine

Who said all alcohol is bad for the stomach? A cup (272ml) of red wine daily can improve the bacteria composition in the gut, lower your blood pressure and reduce levels of a protein associated with inflammation. This surprising result was from a study “Influence of Red Wine Polyphenols and Ethanol on the Gut Microbiota Ecology and Biochemical Biomarkers”, published in the May edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In the study, the subjects were divided into three groups—one group drank a cup of wine, one had no alcohol and one group had gin. Though even gin was found to be good for gut flora, it was wine which was the most effective. The study suggests drinking a cupof red wine a day to improve digestive health.

Do yoga

Fifteen minutes of morning yoga can strengthen your stomach, says Sanjib Kumar Patra, assistant professor, department of yoga and life sciences, at Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA), Bangalore. He suggests a combination of 5 minutes of Surya Namaskar and 10 minutes of Pavanmuktasana. “Surya Namaskar is like a general tonic for your health which regulates the endocrine functions of the body and Pavanmuktasana, which in literal translation means ‘release of the winds’, helps empty your intestine of flatulence that you develop due to a disruptive eating routine,” Patra says. After partying, he suggests a day of eating only fruits to eliminate accumulated toxins and relax your stomach.

Wash your hands

A habit as simple as thoroughly washing your hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet can reduce diarrhoeal infections by up to 42%, according to a study carried out by researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London. Published in October, the study also revealed that most people didn’t wash their hands properly. Of the 272 participants the researchers interviewed, only 39% washed their hands before eating. Besides washing your hands, also ensure that your nails are scrubbed clean.

Spoon up triphala

A spoonful of triphala powder—an ayurvedic concoction of three herbs: amalaki, bibhitaki andharitaki —every day increases the body’s immunity and makes it difficult for you to fall ill. In the research for the study “Significant Increase in Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes and Natural Killer Cells by Triphala: A Clinical Phase I Study”, published by researchers from Thailand in the October edition of the journal Complementary and Alternative Medicine , a daily dose of 1,050mg of Triphala was given to healthy volunteers….

Read the complete article on the Mint website.


In a sheen of sparklers;
Broken, sharded jazz
Black night knights
Intersperce with
Dull light

Mingling, hobnobbing
With polite, elite nods.
Guzzling, sparkling
Sharp crystal barbs

Behind the air kiss
Venum moves.
Desperately seeking eyes;
Genteel, jealous smiles.

Light to dark,
Dark to light.

(C) Shweta Taneja, July 2009