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Christmas Survival Guide Part Three: Bah-Freaking-Humbug

I have never been a fan of Christmas, I’m not going to give you all the usual bullshit reasons why I don’t like this holiday. It’s not because it’s too commercial, if anything it’s not commercial enough! Give me more commercialism, at least that’s entertaining. No I hate it for so many, many reasons. For your consideration I’ve compiled a little list of the five things that annoy me most during the holiday season, enjoy!

Forced Merriment

I’m not opposed to merriment per say; I’ve been merry in the past. I’ve been both jolly and holly if you can imagine it (and if you can imagine what that is supposed to mean). I’m only opposed to merriment when it is forced upon you by the general population. There is nothing less joy inducing than some chubby bitch from your office trying to insist on over decorating and handing out santa hats. Santa hats are a particular pet peeve of mine, I worked in retail for many years and was forced yearly to wear christmas themed garbage such as santa hats and elf ears while I served customers; you have to love grumpy retail assistants working for minimum wage trussed up like christmas whores. I eventually put a stop to this by pretending to be jewish year after year.

People Singing Awkwardly Together In Public

Most people can’t sing, and most people are aware of this and are fairly uncomfortable bursting into song in public. This time of year however puts pressure on these very same people to stand together and sing antiquated and lame Christmas songs in public. The awkwardness in the air is always electric and rubs off onto the people watching the other people sing and this leads to widespread awkwardness. Even worse than the awkward forced singers are the over enthusiastic in love with themselves attention seekers. These people will pull out any excuse to sing in public and at christmas they are given ample opportunities to exploit. They’ll be on that karaoke stage singing the dickhead christmas anthem (Mariah Carey “All I Want For Christmas Is You”) and you might not have though it was possible, but they’ll manage to over-sing it worse than the diva herself. Beware this holiday season, and stay away from all jukebox’s to ensure your christmas stays Mariah free.

Gift Wrapping

I’m going to try to avoid doing a ten page rant here, but gift wrapping is the worst fucking thing in the world.  As a woman there are certain things that I am expected to be able to do. I’m expected to be able to cook (meh almost), clean (not at all) and for some reason I’m expected to be able to produce beautifully wrapped and individually styled presents in the style of Martha Stewart every Christmas. Every year I am proved to be a failure as a women when I produce a gift that is wrapped too tightly in some areas, not enough in others and is covered in weird bits of tape. I really try, and I really, really fail. I don’t really see the point in getting stressed out over how some expensive paper is placed over a gift. Humans are odd creatures with these strange rituals, you would never see a squirrel attempting to wrap decorative leaves in a decorative manner around an acorn. I quit! No more gift wrapping for Nina.

Fruit Cake

This one seems kind of obvious. Nobody likes fruit cake, fruit cake is only ever bought this time of year. It is given as gifts or put out on tables for Christmas day, but you’ll never actually see anyone eating it. Fruit cake will sit in your cupboard until around October when it is finally thrown out before being replaced with yet another fruit cake come December. Fruit Cake is yet another pointless ritual that we keep up  despite it making no sense.

Greed and Gluttony Just For The Hell Of It

I am fortunate enough to live in a country where food is abundant and life is comfortable. Never is this more apparent than around Christmas when families all across the country begin stock piling enough food to feed a small army for their family Christmas lunch. You go to lunch, you eat until you’re full and then for some reason, you eat more. I don’t want to get too preachy here as my name is not Nina Bono Theresa, but you only need to look at this logically to see that it’s pretty gross.

We pile our plates high with food we don’t need or want and throw the leftovers in the bin while other people starve. Humans, we’re a nice bunch aren’t we? Check out this link that shows how much families around the world spend on food in a week, interesting stuff.

That’s it my little Christmas angels! Go out and spread good cheer, don’t stress too much, it’ll all be over soon. 

All I want for Christmas… Is you.

 

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The Christmas Survival Guide Part Two: Solving The Kris Kringle Conundrum

Kris Kringle, Secret Santa, call it what you like, I call it a pain in the arse. For those few of you lucky enough to have somehow missed out on this traditional holiday torture, allow me to explain how it works. Secret Santa is usually run for large groups of people such as in the workplace or for extended family. The basic concept of the Secret Santa game is simple. All of the participants’ names are placed into a hat, box, etc. and mixed up. Each person then chooses one name from the box, but doesn’t tell anyone which name was picked. He/she is now responsible for buying a gift for the person selected, there is usually a limit to how much you can spend, usually $10 or $20 and that’s about it. Sounds fun right? Sounds simple?

Wrong! Oh how wrong you are.

This seemingly fun activity is actually a very dangerous social minefield, beware, watch your step.
Use this guide to get through unscathed. Let’s begin:

The Beginning: Picking that random person from the hat

Picking the name from the hat is really the most important step because who you pick here is going to determine just how difficult this process really has to be. My advice here is, try to cheat. If there is any possible way you can turn the odds in your favour, do it. If at all possible try to sneak a peek at the name before you pick it. Call me a Scrooge for taking the “fun” out of things, but trust me when you pull out the name of a coworker you’ve only spoken to once in your life and who seems difficult to read, you’re going to wish you had cheated.

When you pick, make sure you smile and nod and say appropriately nice things about how happy you are to have picked this person. If you pull out a name look at it and say “Oh jesus not this wanker!”  then I guarantee that person is going to hear about your reaction eventually. Smile, nod and swear privately to yourself later.

The Process: How To Know What To Buy: Bath Soaps and Candles

Knowing what to buy for your Secret Santa recipient is probably the hardest and most frustrating part of the process.  If you’ve picked someone you know pretty well then you probably have a good idea of what to buy, if you didn’t,  well…  it sucks to be you. Firstly, let’s look at what your price restrictions are, what are you allowed to spend? $5? $10? $15? It all makes a big difference, here’s a hint though, spent $5 to $10 more than the limit, it’ll stop you looking cheap, and everyone else will probably be doing the same thing.

If you have to buy something for someone you know nothing about, don’t immediately go for the thoughtless candle/soap/chocolate/wine option, it’s lazy and it’s been done to death darling. Use your serial killer style stalking skills to find out more about them.

(note: I do not mean that you should break into their home and molest their cat)

Walk by their desk, take notice of what might be on it, is that a Justin Bieber CD? My they have horrible taste, but perhaps they would like a nice poster to go with that CD. Is that a copy of the alcoholic’s anonymous book? Aren’t you glad you didn’t buy them that wine?  Likewise, notice what they wear, what tv shows and movies they talk about, what video games they might mention any of these clues may guide you towards a semi-thoughtful gift idea, just don’t be to creepy in your lurking or you may end up with a restraining order.

Don’t give an inappropriate gift, save the penis straws for your real friends, the rule of thumb here should be if you don’t know this person well enough to sit down and have coffee together outside of work, then you don’t know them well enough to give them a box of chocolates shaped like breasts.

If you really want to be a lazy little bunny, go with the voucher option, let them pick their own gift, but definitely no candles or soap. Not ever. Giving someone soap just makes them think that you are questioning their personal hygiene.

The most important hing is to remember to buy something. The worst possible thing you can do in Kris Kringle is forget to buy a gift, and if for some stupid reason you do forget, just hand over some cash, do not, under any circumstances attempt to pull something out of the glove box of your car and try to pass it off as a gift. No one will buy it.

The End: Looking Gracious And Practising Your Fake Smile

So you’ve made it, you’ve bought your gift and put it in the communal pile and now this nightmarish tradition is over right? Not so fast my friend, you forgot the other half of this evil game, you forgot that some other poor schmuck pulled your name from that hat. Some other person has been stressing and figuring out what to buy for you. Traditionally secret santa gifts are opened in a communal setting, everyone sitting together and watching each other open their gifts. So watch out because when you open that gift, you had better smile, and you had better make it convincing, and believe me that may be difficult. Here’s a few scenarios you may have to face “Oh my! A christian wall hanging! Why… I’ve always wanted a reminder that jesus died for my sins, how swell!”

Or how about “Gee! A weight watchers book, how thoughtful of you to remind me that I need to lose a few kilos, how charming!”  You need to be prepared for the worst here people, and you need to be prepared to act your arse off. If you open your gift and the disgust registers on your face, you’re going to hurt some poor morons feelings, you wouldn’t be happy if they opened your gift and said “Oh great! I’m allergic to dairy so this milkshake maker is the perfect gift jackass!” Just keep smiling, keep pretending and this whole horrible charade will be over for another year.

I know it’s been said, many times, in many ways, but my god Christmas blows.

A Christmas survival guide, Part One, The Office Party…

It’s beginning to look a lot like christmas boys and girls, and you know what that means? It means that we’re all entering the potentially awkward and humiliating (not to mention frustrating and rage inducing) time known as the festive season.  Now my children, gather round, don’t be scared, I have you covered. This is the first part of my christmas survival guide trilogy and today we are going to look at:

“How To Survive Your Office Party, Lawsuit Free And With Your Dignity Intact”

This year Publicist, Kristy Fraser-Kirk, sued David Jones for $37 million accusing the department store’s chief executive, Mark McInnes, of unwanted sexual advances at a work Christmas event. This event has caused many workplaces to consider cancelling their christmas parties this year so as not to risk a similar legal problem.

Indeed office parties worldwide have often been a source of scandal and problems of a litigious nature, let’s take Linda Hunt, an Ontario woman who got drunk at an office party and crashed her car. She successfully sued her employer for allowing her to drive — even though her company offered a cab ride or accommodation if she gave up her keys.

Now these two events may be on the extreme end of things, but we all know that work parties are always fraught with peril. Here are some steps towards making it a safer (and duller) experience:

Step One: Don’t Be “That Guy”

“One of the guys from accounting in a large corporation was very, very drunk at the Christmas party. He decided to relieve himself on the burning logs in the fireplace. Bad choice. Within a short time following that party, there was one less guy in accounting.” – Excerpt from an Office Party Bloopers website

There is always one, one of your co workers will always drink too much, too quickly and make a complete moron of themselves, this might seem like obvious advise but I think: “try to avoid being that guy” needs to be said. Now I’m not saying don’t drink, (because god knows you’re not going to get through this hideously dull evening sober) I’m just saying that you need to know your limits. If you find yourself ranting at your boss about how much you hate your job, it might be time to put down that drink. Remember that you have got to work with these people and even though the christmas party might seem like an amnesty from mockery, it isn’t, if you make a fool of yourself you can expect to be the butt of the joke to your coworkers until at least the end of january. similarly if you aren’t “That guy” but someone else is, don’t encourage them. It may seem extremely amusing at the time to cheer them on while they put that lampshade on their heads but eventually that person is going to sober up. They are probably going to be embarrassed by their behaviour and if they have any memory of your encouraging them towards the dark side, they are probably going to take it out on you.

 

Step Two: Keep It In Your Pants

Research shows that one in four people hook up with someone at the office Christmas party, which is great if your company doesn’t frown on such things, you’re both single – and the person in question isn’t your boss!-  Netdoctor.com.au

Maybe you’ve always fancied them but never had the courage to do anything about it until the alcohol steeled your nerves. Maybe you never actually liked them but hey, you’re drunk and they look nice, either way it’s a seriously bad idea. The television show “The Office” suggests that office romances could lead you to a fairytale wedding, more likely that drunken fumble in the supply closet is going to lead to a very awkward work environment and a potential sexual harassment suit. Always remember what may seem extremely romantic through your champagne eyes may look extremely different in the light of day.  Keep in mind too if you do go for a drunken fumble that the eyes of your coworkers will be on you, keep your bedroom antics in the bedroom, actually that’s just good advice for all occasions, nobody wants to see you practically humping your partner on the train, eeeeew.

Step Three: Avoid The Boss

Ok visual gags aside, this is a very important piece of advice. Stay the hell away from your boss while you are drinking! You may have a good relationship with your boss or you may not, it doesn’t matter every single person has some spleen venting to do about their workplace and I think you’ll find that the office party is the wrong place to do it. Here is a very basic rule to follow should you find yourself stuck talking to your boss: before you speak, think to yourself “Would I say this if I weren’t drunk” now really think about it, give it more than 10 seconds thought, if the answer is no then STFU.

 

 

Step Four: Avoid Being Sucked Into The Office Politics

 

Sarah in accounting is totally mad at Fred from the sales department because he borrowed her DVD and when he returned it, it was scratched. Jane and Nicole haven’t spoken in two weeks because Jane said Nicole’s shirt was “so eighties.”  Michelle and Greg both think the other is trying to make them look bad in front of the boss (they both are.) Did you find these stories interesting? Of course not, they are completely fucking dull and yet this is the banality that we let slip into our work lives on a daily basis, some people even actively seek it out. I understand that it can be hard to stay uninvolved in these fascinating situations but it’s important that you don’t allow them to take over the office party. If you are involved when one of these situations takes a booze fuelled turn for the worse you can expect to be comforting messy drunk crying women  and aggressive dudes for the majority of the evening, beware.

Step Five: Dress For Success (Not For A Brothel, Unless You Work In A Brothel In Which Case I Guess It Would Be Appropriate)

 

This is another very simple step which some people seem to have trouble with.  As amusing as it may seem a mistletoe belt is never appropriate attire (it’s just tacky). Neither is your “Fuck you very much” T-shirt. Basically think about what you’re wearing, this party may be outside of work hours but don’t be under any illusions, rules still do apply. If you’re a woman you won’t be doing yourself any favours if you wear an outfit that would make Lady GaGa blush. Women have enough trouble gaining respect in the workplace without having to deal with the judgement of others, save it for the clubs ladies, save it for when it will be properly appreciated.

 

So now that we’ve reviewed the basic rules to get you safely through your party you may be wondering, “Is it worth it?” could any social event be worth this much stress? Well according to 90% of the work etiquette websites that I read through in my research, the worst thing you can do for a work party is not to attend. Not attending will make you look snobby and will make you appear to not be a team player. So there you have it, it’s going to suck, and you have no choice but to attend. Good luck little munchkins, let me know how it goes!