For our holiday story series, we have invited some of our contributors to share a story, an episode, an experience that took place during the holiday season. We hope you will enjoy reading these stories as they appear each Monday.
by Susan La Scala Wood
It’s that glorious time of the year again, when spiked eggnog starts flowing, cocktail shrimp is aplenty and inappropriate comments fill the air. Yes, my friends, ‘tis the season of the office holiday party, when we eagerly swap our turtleneck sweaters and wool blazers (in the 4th floor ladies’ restroom) for plunging necklines that leave little to those junior account execs’ imaginations. Give ‘em a few free cocktails, and who knows what could happen next. It’s likely they won’t even remember. At least they’ll be able to count on a few co-workers to fill them in, possibly with pictures.
Okay, perhaps I’m vaguely remembering my own office holiday party, circa 1997. I’m sure your company party is a much more dignified affair. Still, it seems like a good time to remind everyone of a few rules to follow when mixing alcohol with a roomful of officemates.
The first one is simple: Pace yourself. This rule is so simple, in fact, it shouldn’t be surprising that so many people with above-average intelligence manage to completely forget it. Perhaps they need a more challenging rule: Drink one glass of Perrier per every two vodka martinis and shot of tequila, followed by three olives, a whole lemon and a scotch on the rocks. Seriously, I don’t know what it is, but offer free drinks to a group of people who spend the majority of their day in a swivel chair and somehow you’ve got the cocktail version of a cruise ship buffet. Sure, they might not spend a dime, but they’ll pay for it later…and all the next day.
Rule #2: Wear dark colors. It’s inevitable. If you are wearing anything lighter than charcoal grey, red wine will spill on you – even if you’re drinking vodka straight up. Not only will this glaring red spot take your fabulous quotient down a few notches, it’ll also make the biggest teetotaler in the room look like a clumsy drunk. Not the look you’re going for as you await your holiday bonus. Which brings us to:
Rule #2A: Be especially careful if you’re a hand talker. I was once at a meet-and-greet party for the parents of kindergarteners when I was telling a story with a glass of wine in my hand. Needless to say, my Italian heritage kicked in and the next thing you know, my arms went from telling a story to splashing Chilean merlot right in my face. I wish I were kidding. The one saving grace: I was wearing black.
Rule #3: The more you drink, the more you should question your urge to dance. I know this rule is particularly challenging as the more people drink, the more likely they are to bust a move. But remember this, while you’re feeling like Britney Spears out there, you’re more likely looking like Elaine Benes [of "Seinfeld" fame]. That’s why I’m going to suggest that before the vodka fountain starts flowing, it might be wise to choose a “designated dancer.” This should be someone who actually does possess some impressive moves (preferably with hip hop abilities) who can steer the attention away from you in your moment of weakness.
Rule #4: Don’t try to get chummy with the boss. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “But what better time to get to know the person who’s responsible for my employment.” Actually, I can’t think of a worse time. In this sort of setting, it’s easy to imagine the hierarchical wall has suddenly come down. The boss is laughing, he’s nearly done with his fourth Belvedere and tonic. You can’t help but see it as your invitation to get honest with him. So you talk about the office and life in general and eventually, because you’re feeling so darn comfortable, you decide to ask if the rumor about him and his 23-year-old secretary is true. See where I’m going?
Rule #5: Don’t go in a closet. I know this one sounds obvious. I mean, who would go in a closet during an office party, right? Well, let’s just say, you’d be surprised. In fact, 79% of juicy office gossip involve closets. Okay, I made that fact up. But let’s just say I’ve heard a story or two. And no matter how cute the guy or gal next to you suddenly looks, or how persuasive they may be, heading into a closet with them is a surefire way to become Monday morning’s water cooler talk. So please, if you remember anything, remember this: good things don’t happen in closets.
Speaking of Monday, here’s Rule #7: Keep Monday in mind. It will arrive. And only you can decide whether you will be able to approach it with your head up or down. I love having fun with my co-workers. And I love free drinks. But I know (partly through experience), that you really do have to be careful mixing the two. Believe it or not, there is something worse than remembering what embarrassing thing you said or did…and that’s not remembering what embarrassing thing you said or did. At least with the former there’s the ability to do some damage control.
And finally, we’ve come to Rule #8. The most important one of all: Have fun. Honestly, even if you do drink a little more than you should, or you get a little too chummy with the boss, or you do somehow end up in a closet, don’t let yourself worry too much. After all, you’ve been working hard the whole past year; you definitely deserve to have a good time.
Susan La Scala Wood is a freelance advertising copywriter who’s currently working on her first novel. She does not have an office holiday party to attend this year, but she remembers them well. Sort of. Not at all.