“It costs only about one-third of what we usually spend for hanging out. And we certainly plan to gather again at a friend’s house next year too,” said Chae Hye-seon, a 27-year-old who threw her first “home party” celebrating Christmas Eve with her friends at her home in Mapo, Seoul. “We got meal kits for food and didn’t have to pay a hefty taxi fare as we stayed in,” she said. “We will throw another home party at one of our friends’ next year.”
Home parties are taking the center stage of the year-end celebration culture among younger people in South Korea, fast emerging as a cost-effective partying option for Generation MZ amid an inflation spike. Home gatherings used to be considered “cheating” during the earlier phase of social distancing for Covid-19, and it is expanding into a new mode of social gathering after the lockdowns are lifted.
Others rent a party space to replace home gatherings, translating into a strong business opportunity. “Earlier this month, I was looking for a party room in Gangnam, but they said the spots had been sold out two months ago,” said Han Seung-hoon, a 25-year-old office worker.
“The preference for throwing parties at home will continue for a while against the backdrop of soaring inflation,” said Lee Eun-hee, a consumer studies professor at Inha University. “If such a trend becomes as popular as it is in the Western culture, this might spell trouble for the special year-end demand of the dining industry.”