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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.

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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!

Is your job killing you?

 

I was doing my usual random wandering around the interweb when I found this list:

10 most depressing jobs
 
1. Personal Care and Service 10.8%
2. Food Preparation and Serving Related 10.3%
3. Community and Social Services 9.6%
4. Healthcare Practitioners and Technical 9.6%
5. Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media 9.1%
6. Education, Training, and Library 8.7%
7. Office and Administrative Support 8.1%
8. Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance 7.3%
9. Financial 6.7%
10. Sales and Related 6.7%

Interesting huh? In case you’re wondering, my job is part of the number one most depressing industry. I am a childcare worker. 

 It got me thinking, how much does your job actually affect your life and wellbeing? According to this article , a lot.  The article has  a study on jobs and stress that show how working in a job with high demands and low control —often found in lower-ranking, lower-paying jobs—is associated with an earlier death, and also with cardiovascular disease, mental health problems, sleep issues, and among other maladies.  people who work in jobs with low demands are also at risk if they have low control over their work. “If you spend your working life in a job that’s basically boring, you’re at risk of dying sooner,”  was a quote from a psychologist referenced in the article.

So control is the issue? Well unless you’re one of the lucky few working for themselves or for a boss who encourages  an autonomous work environment you’re screwed. Chronic stress weakens the immune system and makes it more difficult for us to fight off any bugs going around.  A quote from ezine articles  says “Stress has been listed as a contributing factor to every kind of illness imaginable, from the relatively benign complaints like the common cold or an occasional bout of insomnia to the deadly illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Over $400 billion dollars a year is spent on stress related diseases.”

Stress, ew.  So let’s imagine, you’re super stressed. You wake up every morning with that familiar feeling of dread, the dread of another work day stretching out before you. You come home every evening feeling tired and grumpy and snap at everyone. When is it time to quit? Let’s find out.

1. You’ve burned too many bridges

Maybe you’ve pissed off your boss to the point that your relationship is unrepairable. Maybe you’ve got caught up in office politics and work is now filled with drama. Maybe you’ve earned yourself a bad reputation due to too many days off, or slacking on your work. Either way, you’ll probably find it easier in the long run to just cut your losses and move on.

2. You’re compromising more than you feel you should.

Your work likes things done one way, and one way only. If your views differ to their’s it can be hard to make the compromise to their way of thinking. This is of course part of any job, however, if you are compromising constantly, especially on issues that you consider important, or that conflict with your values or morals, you’re not going to be happy. If you’re not happy, you’re not going to do a good job. Move on.

3. You’re just not happy.

If you’re spending all of your time complaining to your friends and family about your work, chances are it’s time to find something new. Maybe you’ve been there too long, maybe the job just isn’t right for you. I don’t think we should settle for any old job just for the cash, if you’re really not happy you won’t last anyway.

So if you do decide to quit how do you find out what the right job for you is? Well if you want to go the frivolous online route you could do an online quiz. I went to this website and took the career personality test, my results for my ideal career were:

  • Actor
  • Recruitment Consultant
  • Politician
  • Marketing
  • Psychologist
  • Religious Minister
  • Teacher
  • Social Worker
  • Human Resources Manager
  • Sales
  • Lawyer
  • Advertising
  •  

    Well I would have to be a pretty good actor to pretend to be a religious minister. Take the quiz and let me know what you got!  The test has spit out a number of “ideal” careers that seem pretty freaking random and not much help. I guess not surprisingly the internet quiz based route to finding your perfect career may not be the best.

    I think that finding the right job for you may just be a matter of finding something that makes you happy, something that you can bear to do day after day, even if the rewards are more emotional than financial. Life is too short my friends to stay in a lame job.

    I hope you find what you’re looking for, me? I think I’ll apply to be a reality television show critic, or maybe a lawyer that specializes in religious law that teaches on the side and does their own marketing and hiring in between charity work, that’ll look good when I run for prime minister.