The annual office party is where many a career has gone to die. Pat Fitzpatrick looks at what can you do to limit the potential damage.
YOU looked forward to the 2018 Christmas party all year and ended up sitting next to Deccie from the IT desk, a climate-change denier with very strong views on traffic calming measures on the Skehard Road. Something has to be done.
The key is to get on the committee that organises the bash. This doesn’t just get you an afternoon off to buy spot-prizes — it also allows you to visit the function room beforehand and scope out safe-seats.
The main thing to look for here is a seat with an easy escape route — you ended up crawling under the table to get away from Noelle from accounts last year.
Anyway, once you have the place scoped, it’s just a matter of arriving 15 minutes early, putting your coat on the safe-seat, persuading your buddies to claim the seats around yours and trying not to make eye contact with Deccie because he’s liable to take that as an invitation to sit at your table.
Just because your boss is paying for it doesn’t make the booze any weaker. So, the first rule of Christmas party booze is pace yourself. Think of it like a wedding, but without your drunk uncle.
(Unless you work for him.) You should be sober enough to feel mildly embarrassed when you put the first paper hat on your head. If you’re not, then drink a pint of water.
The second rule is that mulled wine is for fools. In the same way that someone trying to diet will refuse to touch a frozen pizza because it’s a waste of calories, hot spicy Wine is a waste of alcohol units.
Trust me, if God exists, she never meant us to consume cloves or star anise on a night out.
The third rule involves pre-drinking. As we know, getting goofed up before you head out is very popular now with what’s known as the young crowd.
If you are not a member of the young crowd (aka unsure of Snapchat) and still dabble in the vodka before heading in to the party, it is a racing certainty that people in work are going to spend the next six months talking about ‘the incident’.
It’s the stuff of nightmares. So please drink responsibly, for the first couple of hours anyway.
It’s only once a year, says you, ordering seven dresses on ASOS and hoping they don’t bar you from the site when you send six back.
It’s different for men, they’ve started thinking about what they are going to wear five minutes before heading out the door. Unless it’s fancy dress and they all go as Elvis.
The best thing to do is go for the Christmas jumper solution. It’s a winner all around — everyone can get something super-hideous in a high-street store with 14 different colours splashed across it.
Mark from quality compliance doesn’t need to make the trip — he already has a wardrobe full of jumpers like that at home. (It’s Christmas every day in Mark’s place, but not in a stylish way.)
A couple of things you should know about the food phase of the evening.
The menu will have words like locally-sourced, artisan hand-cooked and passion on it. It doesn’t have the words ‘give them the usual fare, they won’t notice the difference.
A woman who reminds you of your mother will arrive with a serving plate of vegetables that have been boiled for three days solid; she will ladle these on to your plate whether you like it or not; there is nothing you can do about this.
There is a good chance someone in their 50s will laugh at a younger colleague for being a vegan.
Go easy on them. Vegan-shaming at Christmas parties was compulsory until 2005 — they’re just slow to move with the times.
There is a good chance this person will also order turkey and ham, which is basically a hate-crime against our animal friends because it consists of two meats.
Again, try not to treat him like he’s sitting there eating Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
A word about the wine. That word is ‘don’t’.
Particularly the white — research shows that drinking two glasses of white table wine at the Christmas party is the same as hitting yourself on the head with a hammer for 15 minutes. (I carried out this research myself.)
Any attempt at office romance is liable to end with you being tasered and taken away by helicopter to a detention centre. It’s a bigger taboo than terrorism now.
In fairness, this is going to come as a relief to anyone who was chased around the dancefloor by Stephen last December, while he shouted: “Ah come on, it’s only once a year.”
Let’s just say there are plenty of solid reasons for the #MeToo movement, and Stephen is definitely one of them.
But there are also plenty of people out there who fancy each other, and some of them work in the same company. That’s why places like Facebook and Google brought in the ‘One Strike and You’re Out’ dating rule, where you are not allowed to pester a colleague for a date if they refuse your first approach.
Anyway, don’t be a Stephen if you fancy someone at work.
Impose a One Strike and You’re Out regime on yourself, and if rejected, pray that no one caught you making the pass. (Particularly if you’re already in a relationship.)
If there have been any Christmas songs released since 1989, no one told DJ Crazy Colm. So for yet another year the floor fillers at your office bash are Wizard wishing it could be Christmas every day and Wham still banging on about what happened last year (seriously, build a bridge).
Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone is there of course, minus the old-school lines about finding a girl and kissing her under the mistletoe. (HR had to send everyone on a consent course after it was played last year.)
Finally, the night is nearly over and it’s time for Fairytale of New York.
It isn’t Christmas in Ireland really unless you have a room full of people in shiny jumpers shouting ‘you cheap lousy faggot’ at each other.
You won’t be surprised to hear that HR has been on to DJ Crazy Colm and he’ll be bleeping it out this year.
There is nothing stopping you singing it anyway, if you fancy looking for a new job in January.