A few weeks ago, I joined my boyfriend at a house-cooling party. (The opposite of house-warming; the residents were moving out.) We ate nachos and Googled pictures of novelty skis embossed with bikini babe appliqués. You know, grown-up stuff. For a while, everything was normal—until one partygoer sat down, pulled a large tin cup out of his backpack, poured a generous tipple of whiskey into the cup, and drank.
We stared at the partygoer—we’ll call him Jay—with mouths slightly agape. “Bring your own cup, man?” asked my boyfriend, amused. Jay shook his head and laughed. “I honestly have no idea why I brought it,” he said, taking another sip. “I knew the party was BYOB, so when I went to grab my booze, I also grabbed a cup. Seemed natural at the time.”
We laughed about it for the rest of the night. Jay brought his own cup! What a funny thing to do! But now, two weeks later, I’m starting to think that Jay had the right idea.
After scouring the internet for tales of BYOC (Bring Your Own Cup) shenanigans, I was surprised to find that this behavior is... actually somewhat normal. There are a few reasons for that. First, I’ve seen brands promoting the practice as a means to reduce plastic waste. It makes sense; otherwise, you’re sending a mountain of Solo Cups straight to the landfill. And if you’re letting guests use drinkware from your personal stash, there’s always a chance that someone will break your cherished souvenir stein. Either way, if your guests provide their own cups, it’ll save you money and clean-up time.
I’ve also seen the practice touted as a safety measure for college kids. “for ppl who lives in dorms and goes to dorm parties: bring your own cup with lid. Just do it,” one Twitter user recommends. That user suggests that bringing your own cup (with a lid!) could prevent nefarious partygoers from tampering with your drink. You can still enjoy that ferocious jungle juice being served out of a bathtub in the Lambda Chi basement; a lid will just make it harder for someone to slip something nasty into your open Solo Cup.
Finally, asking guests to BYOC may seem like a natural consequence of the pandemic. Bringing your own cup makes it easier to distinguish your drink from someone else’s, reducing the chances that you’ll accidentally drink after another person.
But bringing your own cup is also a chance to have some fun and show off your cup style. Go ahead—drink your wine out of the boot-shaped mug you picked up at Dolly Parton’s Stampede dinner theater. You’ll be the talk of the clambake with an accessory like that.
There’s also the classic “Anything But Cup” party, which was a thing way before the pandemic brought us to our knees. Invite your guests to your place, and instruct them to bring their own drinking vessels—as long as those vessels aren’t traditional drinking glasses. Examples of non-cup cups include: fish bowls, vintage Dutch clogs, thimbles, plant terrariums, vases, and hollow action figures.
Ultimately, bringing your own cup seems like a pretty prudent move. Sorry for doubting you, Jay.