The perils of the office Christmas party

Posted On December 19, 2006

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According to research by The Register, a management magazine in the UK, 40 per cent of staff throw-up at their office Christmas party. They don’t go on to say whether this is the affect of alcohol or of seeing Mr Jones from accounts in his flashing reindeer antlers, but love them or loathe them, we all have a Yuletide bash.

My particular worse memory is of one a few years ago when I was working in a very sharing, caring international school. The party arranged at the end of the school term, when we all really just wanted to hit the beer and disappear, was based on an Inuit bonding weekend my Head of Department had recently attended. As the school had a no smoking, no drinking policy, it was never going to be a riot of debauchery, but we were looking forward to gingerbread biscuits and hot chocolate.

Encouraged to sit in a circle, we were told, one by one, to pull a name out of the hat. Got hopeful, remembering days of postman’s knock and truth or dare but, no, our purpose was to say something “warm and positive about our fellow colleagues”. First up was Sara from Geography who told Mrs Holmes the Music teacher that her music helped fill the school with glorious harmony. Perhaps I do know why so many people are ill at Christmas parties.

Next, and I shall be eternally ever grateful to him, was Mac from Maths, the only other Brit on the staff, who came from Glasgow. He got Lucy, our earnest and very timid librarian, from Seattle. There was a long pause, we all waited. And waited. He was staring at Lucy very intently. I’m pretty sure he’d already been at the single malt he kept hidden in his book cupboard. “I’ve meant to tell ye this fer a long time, yer got great tits.” Well, I thought it was warm and positive, but we abandoned the game and ate the biscuits.

But truthfully, I love office Christmas parties. I think it’s great when people let their hair down and render their own version of Rudolph with the rugby club lyrics. It’s ours here at the newspaper tonight and I’m looking forward to it. There will be good food and good craic and I hope a dance or too.

According to HR experts in the States, the top blunders at office parties are: drinking so much you’re sick, taking your clothes off, and declaring undying love for a colleague. But the most heinous crime by far and which led someone to say, “I hate office parties, it’s always such a fag having to look for a new job the next day”, is “dissing de boss”.

So I’m taking the advice of an Australian friend, he says it’s foolproof. He’s given me his three golden rules for making sure I don’t make a fool of myself. There is after all decorum and dignity to consider:

1. Drink plenty of water. The best stuff is Russian, comes in a glass bottle and has Vodka (their equivalent to Perrier) written on the label.

2. Sing. The word ‘karaoke’ is Japanese for sophistication and talent. So show yours off (after you’ve had plenty of the water).

3. Dance. The hippy look is back in this year, so grab the bosses’s tie and wrap it around your head. Get up on a table and do your Jagger impersonation. Always impresses.

If I’m not here next week you’ll know what happened… I’ve been promoted.

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