Friday, December 05, 2008

Avoiding disasters at office Christmas parties

As today is December 5 (the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas) and there are only two more Fridays before Christmas, it's a safe bet that many of you will be heading out today for office Christmas, er, Holiday Parties.

In the interest of preserving the livelihoods of as many of our few readers as possible, Second Effort provides these Christmas Party survival tips:

1. Keep your pants on. This seems so obvious -- now -- in the clear light of day. But things get murkier than the spiked egg nog at some holiday parties and all of a sudden it seems like a good idea to (a) moon the boss, (b) photocopy your buttocks, or (c) engage in some lusty consultation with a valued colleague in the supply closet. None of these are good ideas.

Most sensible businesses try and reduce the likelihood of these sorts of disasters by holding their parties in more public venues such as restaurants or taverns. People will generally behave better in public. Even the 'party room' at the nearby tavern is safer for a holiday party than the office... if only because nobody at the tavern has access to a photocopier. This year, however, with the sorry state of the economy, some businesses may be tempted to hold their parties 'in house' again. Don't be the person who causes next year's party to be moved to the "party room" of a health food store.

2. Don't drink to excess.
Keeping your pants on will not be enough to save your sorry career if you get sloppy drunk and paw the boss. Or the boss's spouse. And if you lose your lunch, your lack of intestinal fortitude will be recalled and laughed about at every successive holiday party for as long as anybody at that company remembers you. You'll be gone, of course, probably the next day, even if you don't die of shame. Or alcohol poisoning.This does not mean you can't take a drink. In fact, in some companies, you'll be viewed negatively if you don't imbibe.

But let's face it: You're not at this party because these are the people with whom you want to share the magic of the holiday season. In all likelihood, your attitude towards most of your fellow wage slaves is one of grim toleration. You may pal around with a few -- shared suffering being a good basis for friendship, or something like it -- and you may actually hate, loathe and despise some of your fellows. Drinking may will probably bring these feelings to the surface. These feelings, once revealed, will probably cause you to seek other employment. So don't reveal them.

If you're in a situation where you're expected to get 'loose' and 'celebrate,' make a point of publicly requesting a drink... a vodka and tonic, for example. Make sure there's a slice of lime thrown in so anyone can see you're participating. Sip it for as long as you can. For the second drink, switch to club soda. Get a new lime. It doesn't look any different, especially as your colleagues sink deeper into their own cups. Offer to make the runs to the bar yourself so no one knows what you're doing. It is important to be vigilant at Christmas parties. Which brings us to Rule No. 3....

3. No cameras. This is harder and harder to avoid, these days, as every cellphone seems to have some sort of camera included. But take no pictures yourself and do not allow yourself to be photographed.

Oh, the boss may want one picture of the group. That's the picture that will be brought out next year to show which two were caught in the supply closet... which one was caught photocopying his (or her) buttocks... which one threw up on the visiting district manager.... You may have no choice but to pose for this one. But in this age of Facebook and MySpace and You Tube, getting caught on someone's cellphone camera making doe eyes at the gorgeous new receptionist may be only the beginning of your humiliation. Photographic evidence may be posted on the Internet for your wife... and her lawyers... to see. Actually, all things considered, the best advice for avoiding career ending Christmas Party blunders would be to....

4. Call in sick. At least this year, when the party is at the office. Next year, after the harassment suits and the divorces, the party will be back (if at all) in a dark party room at a restaurant, where most cellphone cameras are pretty much useless. But remember: You probably won't get away with calling in sick two years in a row. People will get suspicious.


Kacey said...

Gee, I never had any fun. We had Christmas parties, but we had to bring in the pot-luck and had our choice of cracking open a Normal Saline I.V. or drinking Iodine. Hospitals are funny about real live drinks and their alcohol will kill you.

Anonymous said...

My don't-get-fired-at-the-xmas-party strategy has always been to get ass-on-the-pavement drunk the night BEFORE, so that booze is the last thing I want at the party. Of course, I could just try having self-control, but that rarely works for me.