Ah it is the season of the office Christmas do. As if spending most of your life in the same large, open planned, hot desked, soul sucking vacuum with these people all year round wasn’t bad enough, now you are also expected to voluntarily pay money and give up valuable free time to get drunk with them, eat an expensive microwave meal with them and pose for ‘hilarious’ photos that will be on facebook before you get home.
In an attempt to spread joy, lessen hangovers and limit humiliation I bring you the top 5 tips for surviving your office ‘do’ relatively intact. None of these suggestions are born from personal experience though. None.
5 – Don’t dare to bare
Especially not unintentionally. A few years ago we had lots of students working on placement in the office. One woman was particularly well endowed in the cleavage department. I thought her choice of a halterneck dress for the annual office pub crawl both flattering and brave. If you are anything over a B cup a halterneck, with the lack of usual over the shoulder boulder holder can be a problem. Yes, yes there are strapless bras or if necessary clear bra straps, but I have yet to meet a strapless bra I couldn’t defeat.
Anyway as the evening progressed and the dancing begun this Jessica Rabbit esq lady let her hair down and went with the flow. But where the cartoon shimmy’s slowly, the student bumped and ground with gusto – right up till the point when her dress undid itself and exposed her entire chest to the entire department. This was no Judy Finnigan moment, she had obviously defeated her strapless bra too and had whipped it off.
8 years later and if her name is mentioned I still see her boobs and nothing else.
Men while you might not be likely to encounter this issue yourselves I also encourage you to pay attention to dressing yourself correctly. Another student, male this time, came out of the toilet on one memorable occasion the worse for wear with his chipolata in hand having sustained a zip meets genitals catastrophe. As the nearest qualified first aider he expected me to ‘sort it out’, quite how he expected me to achieve this I am still unsure about.
4 – Don’t start drinking early
Normal practice in my experience has been to work through lunch in order to have an early leave from work. This is normally so that the department can down tools at 3pm and be in the nearest pub at 3.04pm. Your boss buys the first round and so your carefully considered decision not to start drinking straight away flies out the window. If they are buying, stuff having a diet coke, you want the good stuff. In fact sod the Stella, you want the expensive stuff. So despite having had no lunch and it being 4 more hours until your Christmas Experience of a 3 course nuked approximation of a festive feast you start drinking double vodka and cokes.
Evidence suggests that if you stay on this course of action you won’t get as far as the smash and turkey bites for £30 a head. Instead you will be bundled into a taxi by 6.30pm and no matter how badly everyone else behaves later on they will use your total lightweight status to deflect attention from themselves.
3 – Just enjoy the disco
Hotel Christmas functions always feature a disco and for the most part this is actually a blessing. Yes, really. One year we went to a function that featured a 70’s tribute act. I am all for multi functioning toys but a band trying to be The Beatles, Abba, Slade, The Stones, The Village People, Gary Glitter and The Sex Pistols without changing band members, mullet wigs or skintight leotards is highly disturbing whatever your alcohol level.
I was stone cold sober and the sight of Noddy Holder in a Sargent Pepper jacket singing ‘YMCA’ really screwed with my head. So take the disco. Yes it will be mostly a mix of The Beatles, Abba, Slade and The Village People but if you are lucky they will chuck on some Black Lace and Earth, Wind and Fire too. We all know you have far better music taste than this crap but no one wants to listen to you go on about it so shut up and go dance.
2 – Do not tell your boss what you really think of him.
Yes he doesn’t value your encyclopedic knowledge of Masterchef, contributions to team morale in the shape of running team building exercises every 2 minutes or think an hour a day (minimum) on facebook comes under ‘reasonable personal internet use’. Yes you have been stoking at the embers of a rage volcano for months now and yes 6 pints of stella down telling him he is a boring pillock whose obsession with facts, stats and targets are the number one reason his wife is having an affair with the head of catering BUT do not do it.
If you go down that pass your fate will be worse than losing your job. You will have to see him day after day, feel unable to plead for mercy when another spreadsheet that needs all its formulas re-entering one at a time because they somehow got deleted pings in your inbox and worst of all the quality of food in the canteen will go down, the instances of hair or worse in your food will go up.
1 – Do not take your other half
Even if your other half works for the same company do not take them with you. Doing so will go one of two ways:
1 – You will spend the whole night explaining to them who that is and why everyone keeps making this joke related to turn around times or what blue box thinking is and all the other things you forget they don’t know because they aren’t in your team. They will feel bored, they won’t dance when the ‘retro’ disco starts pumping out YMCA and really annoyingly they will keep pestering you with nonsense like ‘haven’t you had enough’ or ‘you said you wouldn’t be drinking much’. Or:
2 – They will drink. A lot. Then they’ll start taking over the conversation and telling everyone you work with what you are like at home. This will be embarrassing but not as embarrassing as when they start telling everyone, including your boss, what you say about them at home.
HOWEVER have the other half on standby. I spent one entire memorable Christmas do trying to escape the clutches of a manager twice my age who looked not unlike a shorter John Major. Yum.. As I had been temping there for 6 months and he barely spoke to me I had no idea he had deemed my baker boy cap a mark of a bohemian lifestyle that included a free wheeling approach to sex.
We had a long conversation about Bob Dylan, well I thought we did. He, meanwhile, took this as code for something else. The next thing I knew he was pleading with me to leave my boyfriend and travel across Germany with him in a camper van. Having sprained my ankle on my way to the pub escape was not easy. I limped to the toilet, called my (tall, handsome, younger) boyfriend and pleaded with him to rescue me before I ended up in Berlin. He did come to my rescue and the managers fervor was squashed. Reader, I married him. The boyfriend obviously, not the manager.
So, enjoy your Christmas Do. At best you can probably expect to wake up the next day hungover, with indigestion and a distinct feeling of unease. You will hate the photos plastered over facebook but overall feel like you got away with it.
Alternatively you will wake up in a kebab, nauseated first by the alcohol and then the growing recollections of you flashing your boobs, possibly losing your job, starting a fight, falling off your shoes AND as these things are so often on a work night – the fact you should have been in work an hour ago.