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The Office Holiday Party Survival Guide

'Tis the season for office holiday parties.

We had ours the other night. The next day no one talked about the lovely lounge we all went to at 4pm. Or the delicious mini grilled cheese sandwiches that were passed. Or the Irish pub many of us went to after the official merriment was over. Or the generous open bar at the afterparty. Or the karaoke that some did late nite. Or the private singing room that was reserved for the group. 


All anyone talked -- actually no, whispered -- about the next day was the girl who overindulged. Let's call her Courvoisier. Inappropriate grinding on all male co-workers? On Dancer! Hysterical crying in the ladies room? On Cupid! Heated argument with a cube-mate? On Dasher! So drunk that the bar wouldn't allow her to come in? On Blitzen!

Want to avoid going down in history like this chick? If you're lucky enough to a) still have a job, and b) work for a company that still has holiday parties, read on.

The words "office party" might be the ultimate oxymoron. This is NO time to relax.  Your attendance is not really optional. It's a minefield. You must stay vigilant.  Here's a survival guide:

Mama's in Her Kerchief, and I'm in My Cap
No Hanukkah hairy chests, no Christmas cleavage, no Kwanzaa belly buttons, and absolutely no Festivus ass cheeks peeking out from under a miniskirt. We're not at the beach -- cover up people! Skimpy clothes are unpredictable. Wear them and you may forever be known as the woman who accidentally flashed a boob at the party.

The Three Words That Best Describe You Are as Follows, and I Quote, "Stink, Stank, Stunk!"
While we're at it, don't load up on cologne or perfume in the spirit of being "festive." Nobody wants to taste Drakkar Noir with their tuna tartare.

He'll Say, "Are You Married?" We'll Say, "No Man!"
If you're not invited with a guest, don't bring one -- even if you're married and everyone at the office knows your spouse. If you're not married, but can bring a guest, make sure it's not an escort. Your +1 could trade up during the night, and that's just embarrassing.

Frosty the Snowman Was a Jolly Happy Soul
So what's your problem? There's no crying in office parties! Similarly, there's no complaining about your job while consuming food and drink on the company's dime. Now is NOT the time to openly wish that the chocolate fountain budget be spent on Post-Its because you've been writing on your arm for the past month. The Grinch was as cuddly as a cactus and as charming as an eel, not you! Pretend you're enjoying yourself.

Said the Shepard Boy to the Mighty King, Do You Know What I Know?
Limit all conversations with acquaintances and supervisors to 5 minutes so you don't accidentally spill the beans that you found your manager's updated resume in the printer, or that the guy in the office next door drops a deuce every morning at 11 like clockwork.  Learn to keep a secret.

Hang a Shining Star Upon the Highest Bough
"But enough about me, let's talk about you -- what do YOU think of ME?" Self-centered conversations are boring. Bragging is worse. So if you're telling the mailroom guy who's shoving chicken wings in his pockets (ill-advised, btw) that you're trying to decide between a holiday break in St. Barts or Gstaad, you need to pipe down. Try talking about the weather. Here. And find that poor guy some Tupperware -- hot sauce stains, ya know!

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Had a Very Shiny Nose
Take your age and divide by 10. That's the max number of drinks you should have over the course of the evening. Plus eat beforehand and drink water in-between (nobody can tell the difference between a selzer with a twist of lime and a vodka tonic).  And yes, that means that the 70-year-old office fossil will be toasted like a chestnut by night's end, but he may not make it to next year's party so just make sure he gets home safe. For everyone else, once your nose starts glowing like ol'Rudy's it's time to step away from the bar, Sparkey.

And Laying a Finger Aside of His Nose, Then Giving a Nod Up the Chimney He Rose
Now, take your age and multiply by 0. That's the max number of drugs you should do over the course of the evening. For those not in accounting, this means say no to drugs. (For those IN accounting, you could probably stand to loosen up, so still say no here, but go ahead and have an extra drink.) If you EVER think office party drugs are a good idea, the fluorescent lighting has most certainly fried your brain. Just like that egg.  Any questions?

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Don't Xerox your ass. Don't curse like a sailor. Don't spill your drink on anyone. Don't eat like it's your last meal. Don't double dip. Don't throw up. Don't piss your pants. Don't put your underwear on your head. Don't trip and knock your teeth out. Don't break anything at all. In general, don't show up for work the next day looking like Grandma.

Now the Jingle Hop Has Begun
Save the pole for the professionals. Dancing with co-workers should be a lot like dancing at a Catholic middle school prom. No touching below the shoulders and leave room for the Holy Ghost.

We're Snuggled Up Together Like Two Birds of a Feather Would Be
Mistletoe is like office party kryptonite. You'd be better off caught eating it than kissing under it. And don't forget most offices have security cameras. Suddenly a rendezvous in the stairway seems much less romantic if it's being watched by a guy named Moe (unless you're into that sort of thing, in which case, do yourself a favor and call in sick the day of the party -- you can't be trusted around an open bar).

It Doesn't Show Signs of Stopping
This one's easy. Go home. At a reasonable hour. Alone.

I think you get the idea.  Now's NOT the time to make an impression or to have fun. Just fly below the radar and you'll be alright.  Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Anonymously share YOUR office party faux pas below...

tags: holidays, work


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Here's one...

Someone (I'm not saying it was me) who worked at some ofice (not saying it was mine) accidentally lit his boss's couch on fire. Needless to say this person started immdiately looking for another job and gave up smoking cigars.

chris said...

I'm not even going anonymous here but before you started at the place we both worked I thoroughly embarassed myself by walking in on a new mom who drank a few glasses of wine at our office party and wanted to get rid of the "evidence" before she got home to nurse her baby. I heard some noise and I don't know what possessed me to open the door but I did and She was inside an office hooked up to a breast pump. That was the day I learnd the term "Pump And Dump" and I washed my eyes out with Bleach!!!!!

Anonymous said...

A few years back my work had a winter wonderland-themed holiday party. To me ‘themed’ meant costume. To everyone else it meant a party room decorated with snowy branches and twinkle lights. I turned up head-to-toe in a beaver suit. Not my finest hour, but luckily they let me relive it every single year when the new invite comes round.

Anonymous said...

heres a simple solution do not attend. i keep work and my social life separate.

Anonymous said...

Heres one: A couple of years ago the President of my company stands up and stops the dinner party we were having at a nice restaurant. We were expecting him to make a toast. Instead he thanks us for all our hard work and tells us he's selling the company. Then he starts crying booze-fueled tears. Can you say awkward? Slowly we realized this meant we were all losing our jobs. The rest of the meal was silent and horrible. Merry F*&%ing Christmas!!

Anonymous said...

My boss' son brought his own bottle of rum (Captain Morgan) and his own giant cup and drank only from that all night long. Then he needed to play an Elf in a skit they were doing. He was not a very good Elf

Roger said...

What a coincidence, I just read this piece of trivia on the elevator news screen: According to a survey conducted by human resources firm Adecco last year, 40% of workers have witnessed or committed a holiday-party indiscretion, which caused a shocking 14% to lose their jobs.

Maybe you should send your coworker this article, anonymously of course:

I have my own crazy story about holiday behavior, suffice it to say it involves learning that someone doesn't wear underwear.

Anonymous said...

I will do you one better......

We had our Xmas party at a very trendy club a few years ago, they rented the whole place out and every one got really dressed up including me. I had this slinky white dress that I was dying to wear except I must have been eating too many cookies because it barely fit. I stuffed myself into it anyway thinking I looked hot. Fast forward to later in th evening when we are dancing. I don't know what move I was doing, but MY DRESS SPLIT UP THE ENTIRE BACK AND MY WHOLE ASS WAS HANGING OUT. The whole office saw me and i was horrified. I thought it couldn't get any worse but someone offered me a jacket which I stared to tie around my waist. They stopped me and said maybe I should just put the jacket on and button up. It turns out in the dancefloor lights MY WHOLE ENTIRE DRESS WAS ALSO SEE-THROUGH. The only difference between me and a stripper that night was that my G-string wasn't stuffed with dollar bills. Never again!!!!!!!

Kevin said...

Grub Street posted a very funny article on this topic too.

I especially like their exceptions...

• Your immediate boss is drunk enough to be slurring his or her speech. +1 drink
• There is no real food at the party. -2 drinks
• You have a meeting the next morning before 10 a.m. -1 drink
• There are shareholders at the party. -1 drink for each one you'll have to meet
• You have a crush on someone at the office, and either they, or you, is married. Have zero drinks — trust me
• You have a crush on someone at the office and you are both single. +1 drink, and make sure you don't have anything in your teeth
• Wrestling of any kind breaks out among co-workers. +3 drinks
• That intern actually does have some pretty good weed. +1 joint

Anonymous said...

Where do all you people work???? We had our company Christmas party last night and it was completely civilized.

Jenny From The 'Brook said...

Anon #1: Thanks!

Anon #2: That's awesome. As long as it's not you. Which, of course, it isn't.

Chris: Hahahaaa! I think I can guess who it was. Horrific.

Anon #3: A beaver suit. I'm speechless!

Anon #4 & #8: You're a barrel of laughs.

Anon #5 & #6: Oh no!

Rog: 3 words... scarred for life! That's crazy!

Anon #7: Holy crap. You poor thing! Please tell me you left the company. Or perhaps the state. There is just no way to recover from that!

Kev: Love it.

Wenni Donna said...

Gratitude for sharing these office party survival guide here. I am also new in corporate world so was in extreme need of such tips and guidelines. Our annual office party would be hosted at popular corporate event venues San Francisco. If you have some tips for formal dress up tips then share that too!