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If you had a meeting hall designated from a table (dining room), a cage ("zoo"), a well, a statue (sculpture garden), or a memorial (memorial hall) dwarves would throw parties there and many of your precious productive workers would now display the status Attending Party. Partying dwarves would get happy thoughts from admiring furniture and buildings, favorite caged animals, waterfalls, etc. in your meeting hall, and from making friends and talking to them. They would also slowly develop social skills. However, parties slowed down your fortress's work as your dwarves relaxed in the meeting hall (sometimes for more than a season).
How often a dwarf would choose to attend a party was based on an internal syndrome counter named PARTIED_OUT. Dwarves should be expected to attend a party at least once every three months. Oddly, dwarves usually canceled party attendance to get eat or drink. Dwarves would also go On Break from a party, even if that meant hanging out in the same meeting hall, talking to the same people.
Parties could be canceled by "free"ing the room where they took place via. Turning off the room's status as a meeting hall (with ) would not disperse a party. Recreating the room would not restart the party, although a new party could be immediately started at the meeting hall by another dwarf.
Each eligible room could have its own party going. With multiple overlapping rooms (like several tables in a dining room set to the same area), each could have its own party. If you freed the room a particular party started in, the dwarves attending that party would stop partying, but those partying from other rooms (even in the same space) would keep going. If you were going to overlap rooms that could have parties, it could be best to make each room-designated construction from a different material, so you could free the correct party to get an important dwarf to go back to work.
Party Reduction & Prevention
Less-social dwarves seemed to be less likely to throw parties, and less likely to make friends to invite them. Stressed dwarves also seemed to be less likely to throw and attend parties. Thus antisocial and unhappy dwarves were at a lower risk to stop important labors to party.
Dwarves did not throw parties at meeting halls designated by zones. If all your meeting halls were of this type, your dwarves wouldn't party.
Dwarves would cancel the "Attend Party" status if the meeting hall was not within their assigned burrow. This could lead to large amounts of cancellation spam.
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It is a noticed trend that whenever something really important needs to be constructed lest doom fall upon the entire fortress, every dwarf capable of working will instead decide to throw a random and boring party where no one even plays 'pin-the-tail on the elf.' These parties tend to serve no purpose at all, besides wasting roughly a month of everyone's time, even if the whole fortress is starving to death. Dwarves are well known for being less than capable of prioritizing their time, but parties are above and beyond the most flagrant display of this cognitive disconnect.