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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!