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  • Writer's pictureBrian Nestler

Party safety from the 1988 Nakatomi Christmas Party

Nakatomi Plaza, AKA Fox Plaza taken during a journalist tour.

It’s December 24th, 1988, and you’ve just arrived in Los Angeles after a long flight from New

York. You hate flying, so a six-hour flight was not exactly the best way you could have spent the day. However, upon landing you find there is a limo waiting for you to whisk you away to the holiday party at Nakatomi Plaza, where your wife is working. You guys have had some

challenges making a long-distance relationship work, but you are hoping the grand gesture of coming to visit will start to warm your relationship. However, it doesn’t start well when you find out your wife has gone back to using her maiden name when you arrive at the building and try to find her in the employee directory. After finding her having an awkward reunion followed by some less-than-smart comments and, you are trying to reset your own approach when all hell breaks loose!

I’m, of course, talking about Die Hard, one of the greatest Christmas movies made (yeah, I said it, challenge me…). Even if you have not yet come to recognize the greatness of Die Hard as a bonafide Christmas classic, there are some fun party-hosting lessons to be learned this holiday season from John McClane and his adventures at that fateful Christmas Eve party back in 1988!

1. Leave your clothes on at the party.

In the first scene of the movie, a fellow passenger on the plane (the director John

McTiernan in a cameo!) suggest to John McClane that once he arrives where he is going

to take off his shoes and curl his toes a bit. It’s dumb advice and leads to one of the

bigger problems John faces during the whole movie. Of course, once he has his shoes

off at the office party, trying to relax, the terrorists bust in, and John makes a quick

getaway but leaves his shoes behind. He then runs around doing super-human feats

without any shoes on for the next two hours. No matter the situation, leave your

clothes on at a party. For so many reasons, you’ll be happy you did later!

2. Have a good communication plan.

When the terrorists first take control of the building, they cut all communications to the

building, literally sawing through the phone lines going out of the building. The fact is

that the 80s were a simpler time (no ubiquitous cell phones), so you could cut off the

world that way. Now, everyone has a cell phone, and we are always connected, right?

How about when the battery goes dead? How about when a signal is compromised

because of poor coverage or a particularly shielded building?

Have a plan to address those challenges. Have a portable charging battery as much as

possible. They make them in all shapes and sizes to accommodate different needs. If

you need to stay in touch (like you have a babysitter at home or a job that requires

constant communication) and you see your phone is offline due to a signal, make some

changes to accommodate. Maybe occasionally walk outside and see if that gets you

a signal. Maybe get to higher ground. That’s what John McClane did with the radio he

stole from one of the terrorists, and he was able to get through to the police!

3. Sometimes it’s time to leave.

While John left his shoes behind, he had the right idea. Anytime people start shooting

guns inside at a party, it’s time for me to say goodbye! Obviously, I'm being a bit tongue in

cheek with this, but seriously, if you sense bad tidings at a party, particularly with alcohol

involved, my advice is to get away from that situation quickly. When fists start flying,

and then maybe weapons come out, you don’t want to be anywhere close. You need to decide if you need to leave or maybe relocate yourself to another area of the party based on the observed threat. However, make moves quickly before you're left with an injury rather than just an interesting story.

4. Make sure someone is in charge at the party at all times.

Early on in the movie, the terrorist identifies the head of the company and separates him

in an effort to get him to open the company safe. Since he wouldn’t comply, the

terrorist kills him. This led to a power vacuum that led to another one of the high-ranking employees trying to manage the situation. It also didn’t go well for him.

Your party should never have to decide who’s in charge after terrorists shoot whoever the

main host is (hopefully). However, have someone designated as an alternate in case the

host is unavailable due to a multitude of reasons. It would be ideal if that person were

to remain sober for the party for clear-headed decisions. Situations can come up quickly,

and it’s always good to have someone else available to make things happen if the need


5. Have a designated driver.

John was brought to the party in a limo by a funny, wisecracking limo driver named

Argyle. He agreed to wait for John to figure out if he would be able to successfully

reunite with his wife or if he would need to make alternate arrangements. A night of defeating

terrorists ensued, but in the end, Argyle was there to be able to drive the McClanes

home. They stuck to the plan, making sure John got home safe.

Have your own plan of how you’re getting home and develop it before the alcohol starts

flowing! Many poor decisions have been made after a few drinks, but few are as bad as

deciding if you are OK to drive or not. If you are asking the question, you already know

the answer, and it is almost universally that you are not able to drive. In addition to yourself,

help other partygoers make the best decision and find alternate ways home if they’ve

been drinking.

Do these things this holiday season, and you’ll be able to enjoy the Christmas classic Die

Hard for so many Decembers to come! Happy Holidays to one and all!

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