Notes on Camp (Pride)
A couple weeks ago, my girlfriend and I threw a Pride party. Pride means something different to every queer person; this year, she and I were both in need of community, friendship, joy, humor, creativity, and something public(ish), and that’s exactly what we got. The party was affirming and special and lovely and fun, and I’m so glad we did it.
So that is what the party was about, but that’s not what Pride as a whole is about (read more on that topic in the New York Times here and here), and it’s not what this post is about! This post is about cute enamel pins, delicious jello shots, and tips for assembling beaded friendship bracelets when you’ve consumed several of said jello shots and are sitting on a very windy roof. I actually wasn’t planning to write about the party at all, but after I got some questions about it on Instagram, I decided to share some details about the DIY projects, the relevant shopping links*, and my thoughts on what worked well. But I don’t want to give the impression that that’s all that this party (or Pride in general) meant to me.
*If this post happens to generate any affiliate revenue, I’m planning to donate it to the Audre Lorde project.
Cool? Cool. Onto the party!
We started planning this party right after the Met Gala, so when the topic of theme came up, I was like, “Literal camp? Please, I’m begging you????” (I’ve always just loved summer camp shit.) The camp theme worked out well — it’s summery, it’s equal parts wholesome and horny, and it’s really practical/inexpensive to pull off. (Like, most of what we needed could be found at any party store/craft store/big-box store.) Plus, allies could easily dress on theme without worrying about being appropriative.
The week leading up to the party felt like a combination of Halloween, school plays, and summer camp, and I was living for it. It’s been a while since I got to do a big burst of arts and crafts like this, and it felt great.
We didn’t do anything too special in this regard, but we did make these cherry lemonade jello shots. I tend to hate the taste of jello shots but these did not taste like vodka at all. Definitely recommend! I also made French onion dip using the classic Lipton mix because it never fails, and I believe in giving people what they want!
We kept the decor very low-key overall, and bought everything from Michaels and Party City. Early on, we talked about doing more in terms of decor, but it wasn’t logistically possible and it wouldn’t have been worth it anyway. As someone who always wants to do The Most (I take after my mom in this regard!), it was nice to give myself permission to just…not.
We did spend a not-insignificant amount of time at Party City on 14th Street trying to figure out the exact right combination of colored cups for our rainbow. (They stock…way more options than you might think?!) I think every single color was in our cart briefly at some point, but honestly, it was worth it. And the coral cups we found on a Pantone Color of the Year display at the last minute really pulled their weight. Also, the Pendleton-knockoff blanket my girlfriend found in the back of her closet two days before the party made a great second tablecloth. We also bought glow sticks and bubbles, and asked a friend to bring her Instax camera.
My girlfriend suggested we make collegiate-style pennants as part of the decor, and I had made some in the past and thought it would be a good low-lift option for this party! This project was mostly just a treat for me, and an excuse to dust off my beloved Cricut (gifted to me years ago). The pennant slogans were Gal Pals, Gay!, Bottoms, We’re Tops!, Both Teams, Pride, and Horny. And you might not be able to tell from the photos, but the lettering was glittery/holographic.
The pronoun koozies
I decided to buy a set of 12 solid colored koozies on Amazon during one of our big party purchases, thinking they’d be cute/colorful/festive, and that maybe I could add some fun text onto them. The colors were a bit disappointing IRL — like, a third of them were really muddy — so I decided to buy a second 12-pack of all lavender koozies, which were perfect, especially alongside the brighter colors. I really wanted to Cricut some kind of word or phrase onto them, but I knew whatever I went with would have to be really short to fit/be legible. Meanwhile, we’d had a difficult time finding pronoun stickers or temporary tattoos in time for the party. It was my girlfriend’s idea to just put the pronouns on the koozies, and it felt like a win-win. (I also left several blank so there were options.)
For reasons too boring and complicated to get into here, I had a bunch of unexpected trouble with the iron-on vinyl at first, so these projects could have looked a lot better, but I think they still looked pretty OK! The rainbow holographic vinyl is really special and looked so beautiful on the koozies IRL, and I’m excited to use it on other projects! (Oh, and if you’re wondering, that font is Corben Bold.)
The friendship bracelets
This was also my girlfriend’s idea, and I was all for it, as I love friendship bracelets. I’m also a big fan of having some sort of activity at every party that’s neither drinking nor dancing. We had a bunch of embroidery floss for braided bracelets at the ready, but — perhaps unsurprisingly — everyone wanted to make letter bead bracelets that said things like “horny” and “butthole” and “Kirstie Alley” instead.
Here’s what I will say: I spent my evenings the week leading up to the party making beaded bracelets for my girlfriend and I and for some of my close friends, because I wanted to get good at it before we unleashed them on the world. And it turns out, this was the right move — letter bead bracelets are surprisingly fussy! For starters, you can’t put most letter beads on embroidery floss (it’s too thick), and working with the elastic cord definitely takes some getting used to. And you need to have some kind of stopper on the string when you are adding the beads so they don’t fall off. Also, if people fuck up when tying a completed bead bracelet, it’ll break. They’ll have wasted all that time and energy making a bracelet, and you’ll end up with beads everywhere, which no one wants. In our case, I ended up printing out a bunch of tips for making the beaded bracelets + an image of how to tie them in case I wasn’t around to do it, which felt a tiny bit extra but turned out to be a good idea. Another tip: keep all of the supplies on large tray to help avoid a major bead incident and to make cleanup easier. (The tray was also very helpful when I was working on the bracelets in the apartment.) And don’t ignore the advice to pre-stretch the cord, and to reinforce the knot with super glue.
That said, it was completely worth the effort because the bracelets were cute and funny and fun and very photogenic. And a lot more people than I was expecting to made bracelets, which made me happy! But it’s not the kind of thing we could have just decided to do a day before and had it work.
Tutorials I used:
How to Make a Beaded Bracelet (SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT WIKIHOW BUT THEY DO GENUINELY GOOD SERVICE JOURNALISM)
We also bought a small bag of shape beads at Michael’s that had hearts, stars, peace signs, and flowers in assorted colors that got a lot of use!
Our guests showed up in a range of great on-theme looks that included “slutty Boy Scout,” a Smokey Bear–style uniform and hat, and an extremely minor character in The Parent Trap. There were also lots of good neckerchiefs and accessories, and everyone looked so summery and cute! (We also bought a pack of 12 neckerchiefs in solid colors in case anyone was feeling stressed about what to wear.)
For our part, my girlfriend and I decided to bring Big Camp Counselor Energy. (TBH, I think I bring that energy…most days.)
I wore a light blue ringer tee, mustard yellow dolphin shorts with a pastel rainbow patch, a rainbow striped bandanna, my sparkle emoji pin, and my National Parks–inspired rainbow pin that says “This land was made for you and me.” (This pin makes me and also everyone who reads it surprisingly emotional???) And I wore striped camp socks and my blue Crocinstocks from Freedom Moses. My girlfriend’s outfit was essentially the same, but she had a mustard yellow ringer tee, lavender shorts, lavender slides, and her own enamel pins. And we both had gold whistles, plus friendship bracelets we made ourselves that matched our own personal aesthetics.
I also went to Sephora for a makeup mini the day of, which is a free thing anyone can do! You just have to book ahead (go here, and then filter by “services”) and they’ll do a 15-minute makeup application of your choosing (so, in my case, eye makeup and fake lashes). It was nice to not have to worry about it, and meant I didn’t have to buy the incredibly beautiful $40 Tarte palette for just a single use of that amazing gold glittery shadow.
One final thing…
I’ve written before about how much I love The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, and once again, it really came in handy! We put so much of the advice from the book into practice for this party, including pre-game your guests, don’t be a chill host, and don’t end a funeral with logistics. But the tip that really served us was setting a purpose for the gathering. Doing that back in May was really helpful, and it meant we knew exactly what a “good” party would feel like. It was just a great night all around, and everyone who came really showed up for us. It was all really special, and I just feel so happy and grateful right now! ☀️