6 Tips For Surviving Your Office Holiday Party

6 Tips For Surviving Your Office Holiday Party

Matthew Grantski

It’s a wonderful time of year for your office. You and your coworkers are suffering from a crazy work-year and other holiday-related stresses. You’ve been seeing the same people 40 to 60 hours a week. You know what they will say before they say it. You cringe when “that guy” sends a company-wide email. You know who I mean. Cut it out, Dave. So what could possibly be better than to get together with all of them, again, on your own time, with the addition of alcohol?

A lot of things can go wrong for you at an office holiday party, but if you know what your goals are, as well as the pitfalls, you can navigate yourself to a very successful office event. As an expert on social interaction disasters, let me give you a few tips to rock your office party.

#1 Arrive late

Let me set the scene here. This party is very likely on a Friday or Saturday night. This could have been a relaxing evening of spending time at home doing whatever your favorite thing in the world to do at home is (mine is drinking my roommates’ beer and watching Mean Girls for the 50th time, but different strokes for different folks). But now you have an office holiday party! This is YOUR time. You see your coworkers about 40% of your time awake, and now you’re obligated to spend MORE time with them… interacting… pretending to care about their kids or their dogs or this thing they never noticed in Mean Girls until their 50th time watching it. Honestly, how did Aaron Samuels get into the AP Calculus course with Cady Heron? He gets an answer wrong because he forgets that multiplying two negative numbers is a positive.

The concept of numbers in general is pretty confusing for me

 

Anyway, the point is that you’re mingling now. You can’t hide in your headphones or in your special conference room where you can avoid everyone. The worst thing you can do is be one of the first people showing up, because do you know who else is going to be there when you arrive? I won’t even let you guess. It’s going to be the two or three people you have nothing in common with, setting up the appetizer plates. Trust me, I love the stuffed sausage balls and spinach-artichoke dip as much as the next guy, but it’s not worth showing up on time for. You are doomed to spend an hour making small-talk while you wait for the coworkers you can actually stand to get there. Your conversation topics are going to range between talking about work, talking about kids/pets, talking about work, how nice the food layout looks, work, work and more work. You will end up shame-eating all the sausage balls and cheese and drink so many vodka sodas that you are incapacitated for nearly the entire party. Don’t show up early. But when you do finally show up, and all the coworkers cheer and applaud your arrival (or at least that’s what you imagined anyway), there’s something you need to take care of right away…

#2 Talk to The Boss Early

You might have expected me to advise you to avoid the boss at all costs, right? So far, I’ve advised you to avoid any extra interaction time with co-workers, but avoiding interaction with the person bankrolling this whole shindig, not to mention signing your paychecks, could be disastrous for you. You need to say hello and make a little small-talk. You need to thank him for funding this get-together. This needs to be done before you let your wine-fueled split-personality take over and babble about everything wrong with the office’s coffee maker and drop f-bombs about how smelly Alison from Accounting’s lunch is, and if you have to smell her tuna melt ONE MORE TIME I’M GOING TO SMASH IT ON HER KEYBOARD. Sorry, where were we? Anyway, the key is that you need to make brief chit-chat and then avoid any more interactions for the rest of the night. You’ve paid your dues, you were able to handle an actual light conversation with your boss and it wasn’t too awkward. It’s time to let loose, and this is the one person you want to avoid embarrassing yourself in front of. With that out of the way, the next step is the bar. That brings me to…

#3 Don’t Be The Drunkest Person At The Party (Be The Second Drunkest)

Just like you don’t want to be the fastest car on the highway to avoid a speeding ticket, you don’t want to be the drunkest person at the party to avoid months of regret and shame (if you’re reading, hi mom!). The blessing of the office party can also be its curse: not much will be remembered. But what *will* be remembered are the highlights. They will remember you mouthing off about the boss. You will remember the ashen look on your coworker’s faces as you have to ask “…he’s behind me, isn’t he?” They will remember you drunkenly hitting on the office hottie…in front of their significant other (they call it significant other because they are significantly more attractive than you). 

This is how impressed the girls in your office are with you if you hit on them at an office party.

You will end up apologizing to people on Monday that you’ve never talked to before this party because you laughed when you were shown a picture of Kathy’s kids. What you want to aim for is to be no worse than the second drunkest person. They will see you as a lively and fun friend in contrast to the office drunk: whether it’s the woman stumbling in her heels into the ice chest or the guy “resting his eyes” on the couch because the room is spinning too much for his Jagermeister Vertigo to handle. Having a two drink buzz going into the party is advisable. You take some of the edge off from having to see your coworkers again, and you aren’t seen double-fisting a beer and a glass of wine, with a rum&coke waiting in the dugout, thereby earning you an unjust and completely unfair reputation. Having this buzz may also help you tolerate inane conversations about process and communication you’re inevitably going to have with a project manager. Trust me, only one person will be labeled as The Lush/Alcoholic, while everyone else is home free. Have you seen Die Hard? Remember Ellis? Don’t be that guy.

#4 Don’t Go For The “Mistletoe on the Belt” Trick

Just… don’t. But if your boss is pulling this move, ignore rule #2.

#5 Handle the “Significant Other” Situation

If you are not allowed to bring a date, it’s game on. But this probably means your office is too cheap to spare an extra meatball or a glass of wine that was $6 at Safeway for the extra weight, so maybe bring a flask.

Find your own plate, sir, and good day.

If you are allowed to bring a date, then there are two ways to handle this. One option is that you can bring them as an anchor. Someone to talk to when you’re done mingling, so you’re not just spending the whole time trying to scoop the entire bowl of 7 layer dip with a single chip. While we’re here, let me talk to you about 7 layer dip. Oh man. 7-layer dip… When I see that casserole dish on the table and it’s barely touched, my eyes light up like an obnoxious Christmas-decorated house that you can see from space. In that moment, I am hunter; I am lizard-brain. My only thought in that moment is coordinating the quickest distance to the dip and avoiding eye contact with everyone there. No one will stand in the way of my dreams. And whoever is responsible for bringing this treat of the gods needs to double up on this. It will be the first to go; I promise you that. You will have a dish scraped so clean you don’t need to wash it, and you will have two or three full bags of chips left over. No one is here for the chips. I would gobble it down like a pig in a trough if it was socially acceptable. Oh man. 7-layer dip. You complete me.

The other option is to not tell them at all, because she’s a Judge Judy when it comes to how you conduct yourself at a party, and you want to eat a gallon of 7-layer dip, drink to your liver’s capacity. Do you really want to hang out with everyone you’re committed to spend time with all at once? This is obligation overload. Don’t be a chump.

#6 Don’t Linger

The party is starting to wind down. The couple that came in and talked to everyone so efficiently they were in and out in 20 minutes are gone. One of your favorite coworkers is heading home early citing their “ball-and-chain” with a defeated and resigned laugh. The 7-layer dip dish has long looked like an apocalyptic aftermath, but it’s likely there is still booze. Not just any kind of booze though. Free booze. It’s a rookie mistake to extrapolate the savings on booze into more time spent at the party. The drunkest person in the party has lost count of how many drinks she spilled. It’s DEFCON 2. Time to mobilize and deploy. If you end up lingering you will end up helping clean up, or you will pair off with the only single person left in the office (surprise, also doubling down as the drunkest too!), or you are simply wearing out your welcome. Make your coworkers wish they got to spend more time with you, not less.

It’s a lot to take in, but it’s a pretty simple approach when you break it down. Just remember to balance showing your best side to make your coworkers like you with drinking a lot and eating your weight in 7-layer dip. Arrive late, do a little chit-chat with everybody. Keep a close eye who you designate as the drinker and keep a little distance, and bail early. Have a great office party, and maybe let us know if you heeded my advice!


BONUS TIP

#7 DEFCON 1

Okay, so you didn’t heed my advice and you found yourself being the drunkest person at the party. I warned you not to. You lingered way too long. I warned you not to. And now you find yourself waking up next to Secretary Sally or Designer Dave. That’s ok. I’m not sure why you’re reading this blog post right now instead of doing damage control, but I’ll help if I can. Maybe nobody saw you two leave together to another bar, and maybe they didn’t see it coming for months, and maybe they didn’t have money riding on it all. Just play it cool on Monday. Be vague. Remember that they remember you were pretty blitzed. Play the rest of the night off as nothing more than drinking too much. It’s ok and believable if you claim something along the lines of “I don’t remember much after leaving, and that I just got a drink somewhere I don’t recall the name of it now and I might have eaten a burger and went home, crazy party, right?! hahaha oh man how bout them [INSERT LOCAL SPORTS TEAM HERE]?!

Matthew Grantski Google+ profile
_matthew grantski :: Development Lead at eROI,
specializing on all things intrawebs and a world authority on all things.

It’s a wonderful time of year for your office. You and your coworkers are suffering from a crazy work-year and other holiday-related stresses. You’ve been seeing the same people 40 to 60 hours a week. You know what they will say before they say it. You cringe when “that guy” sends a company-wide email. You know who I mean. Cut it out, Dave. So what could possibly be better than to get together with all of them, again, on your own time, with the addition of alcohol?

A lot of things can go wrong for you at an office holiday party, but if you know what your goals are, as well as the pitfalls, you can navigate yourself to a very successful office event. As an expert on social interaction disasters, let me give you a few tips to rock your office party.

#1 Arrive late

Let me set the scene here. This party is very likely on a Friday or Saturday night. This could have been a relaxing evening of spending time at home doing whatever your favorite thing in the world to do at home is (mine is drinking my roommates’ beer and watching Mean Girls for the 50th time, but different strokes for different folks). But now you have an office holiday party! This is YOUR time. You see your coworkers about 40% of your time awake, and now you’re obligated to spend MORE time with them… interacting… pretending to care about their kids or their dogs or this thing they never noticed in Mean Girls until their 50th time watching it. Honestly, how did Aaron Samuels get into the AP Calculus course with Cady Heron? He gets an answer wrong because he forgets that multiplying two negative numbers is a positive.

The concept of numbers in general is pretty confusing for me

 

Anyway, the point is that you’re mingling now. You can’t hide in your headphones or in your special conference room where you can avoid everyone. The worst thing you can do is be one of the first people showing up, because do you know who else is going to be there when you arrive? I won’t even let you guess. It’s going to be the two or three people you have nothing in common with, setting up the appetizer plates. Trust me, I love the stuffed sausage balls and spinach-artichoke dip as much as the next guy, but it’s not worth showing up on time for. You are doomed to spend an hour making small-talk while you wait for the coworkers you can actually stand to get there. Your conversation topics are going to range between talking about work, talking about kids/pets, talking about work, how nice the food layout looks, work, work and more work. You will end up shame-eating all the sausage balls and cheese and drink so many vodka sodas that you are incapacitated for nearly the entire party. Don’t show up early. But when you do finally show up, and all the coworkers cheer and applaud your arrival (or at least that’s what you imagined anyway), there’s something you need to take care of right away…

#2 Talk to The Boss Early

You might have expected me to advise you to avoid the boss at all costs, right? So far, I’ve advised you to avoid any extra interaction time with co-workers, but avoiding interaction with the person bankrolling this whole shindig, not to mention signing your paychecks, could be disastrous for you. You need to say hello and make a little small-talk. You need to thank him for funding this get-together. This needs to be done before you let your wine-fueled split-personality take over and babble about everything wrong with the office’s coffee maker and drop f-bombs about how smelly Alison from Accounting’s lunch is, and if you have to smell her tuna melt ONE MORE TIME I’M GOING TO SMASH IT ON HER KEYBOARD. Sorry, where were we? Anyway, the key is that you need to make brief chit-chat and then avoid any more interactions for the rest of the night. You’ve paid your dues, you were able to handle an actual light conversation with your boss and it wasn’t too awkward. It’s time to let loose, and this is the one person you want to avoid embarrassing yourself in front of. With that out of the way, the next step is the bar. That brings me to…

#3 Don’t Be The Drunkest Person At The Party (Be The Second Drunkest)

Just like you don’t want to be the fastest car on the highway to avoid a speeding ticket, you don’t want to be the drunkest person at the party to avoid months of regret and shame (if you’re reading, hi mom!). The blessing of the office party can also be its curse: not much will be remembered. But what *will* be remembered are the highlights. They will remember you mouthing off about the boss. You will remember the ashen look on your coworker’s faces as you have to ask “…he’s behind me, isn’t he?” They will remember you drunkenly hitting on the office hottie…in front of their significant other (they call it significant other because they are significantly more attractive than you). 

This is how impressed the girls in your office are with you if you hit on them at an office party.

You will end up apologizing to people on Monday that you’ve never talked to before this party because you laughed when you were shown a picture of Kathy’s kids. What you want to aim for is to be no worse than the second drunkest person. They will see you as a lively and fun friend in contrast to the office drunk: whether it’s the woman stumbling in her heels into the ice chest or the guy “resting his eyes” on the couch because the room is spinning too much for his Jagermeister Vertigo to handle. Having a two drink buzz going into the party is advisable. You take some of the edge off from having to see your coworkers again, and you aren’t seen double-fisting a beer and a glass of wine, with a rum&coke waiting in the dugout, thereby earning you an unjust and completely unfair reputation. Having this buzz may also help you tolerate inane conversations about process and communication you’re inevitably going to have with a project manager. Trust me, only one person will be labeled as The Lush/Alcoholic, while everyone else is home free. Have you seen Die Hard? Remember Ellis? Don’t be that guy.

#4 Don’t Go For The “Mistletoe on the Belt” Trick

Just… don’t. But if your boss is pulling this move, ignore rule #2.

#5 Handle the “Significant Other” Situation

If you are not allowed to bring a date, it’s game on. But this probably means your office is too cheap to spare an extra meatball or a glass of wine that was $6 at Safeway for the extra weight, so maybe bring a flask.

Find your own plate, sir, and good day.

If you are allowed to bring a date, then there are two ways to handle this. One option is that you can bring them as an anchor. Someone to talk to when you’re done mingling, so you’re not just spending the whole time trying to scoop the entire bowl of 7 layer dip with a single chip. While we’re here, let me talk to you about 7 layer dip. Oh man. 7-layer dip… When I see that casserole dish on the table and it’s barely touched, my eyes light up like an obnoxious Christmas-decorated house that you can see from space. In that moment, I am hunter; I am lizard-brain. My only thought in that moment is coordinating the quickest distance to the dip and avoiding eye contact with everyone there. No one will stand in the way of my dreams. And whoever is responsible for bringing this treat of the gods needs to double up on this. It will be the first to go; I promise you that. You will have a dish scraped so clean you don’t need to wash it, and you will have two or three full bags of chips left over. No one is here for the chips. I would gobble it down like a pig in a trough if it was socially acceptable. Oh man. 7-layer dip. You complete me.

The other option is to not tell them at all, because she’s a Judge Judy when it comes to how you conduct yourself at a party, and you want to eat a gallon of 7-layer dip, drink to your liver’s capacity. Do you really want to hang out with everyone you’re committed to spend time with all at once? This is obligation overload. Don’t be a chump.

#6 Don’t Linger

The party is starting to wind down. The couple that came in and talked to everyone so efficiently they were in and out in 20 minutes are gone. One of your favorite coworkers is heading home early citing their “ball-and-chain” with a defeated and resigned laugh. The 7-layer dip dish has long looked like an apocalyptic aftermath, but it’s likely there is still booze. Not just any kind of booze though. Free booze. It’s a rookie mistake to extrapolate the savings on booze into more time spent at the party. The drunkest person in the party has lost count of how many drinks she spilled. It’s DEFCON 2. Time to mobilize and deploy. If you end up lingering you will end up helping clean up, or you will pair off with the only single person left in the office (surprise, also doubling down as the drunkest too!), or you are simply wearing out your welcome. Make your coworkers wish they got to spend more time with you, not less.

It’s a lot to take in, but it’s a pretty simple approach when you break it down. Just remember to balance showing your best side to make your coworkers like you with drinking a lot and eating your weight in 7-layer dip. Arrive late, do a little chit-chat with everybody. Keep a close eye who you designate as the drinker and keep a little distance, and bail early. Have a great office party, and maybe let us know if you heeded my advice!


BONUS TIP

#7 DEFCON 1

Okay, so you didn’t heed my advice and you found yourself being the drunkest person at the party. I warned you not to. You lingered way too long. I warned you not to. And now you find yourself waking up next to Secretary Sally or Designer Dave. That’s ok. I’m not sure why you’re reading this blog post right now instead of doing damage control, but I’ll help if I can. Maybe nobody saw you two leave together to another bar, and maybe they didn’t see it coming for months, and maybe they didn’t have money riding on it all. Just play it cool on Monday. Be vague. Remember that they remember you were pretty blitzed. Play the rest of the night off as nothing more than drinking too much. It’s ok and believable if you claim something along the lines of “I don’t remember much after leaving, and that I just got a drink somewhere I don’t recall the name of it now and I might have eaten a burger and went home, crazy party, right?! hahaha oh man how bout them [INSERT LOCAL SPORTS TEAM HERE]?!

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