Dreading this year’s office Christmas party? Fear not. I’m here to help you emerge from the imminent colleague cringe-fest with your dignity and tinsel pom-poms intact.
Start preparations before the date of the party’s been decided. Showing up to work clutching an eggnog latte will show your coworkers that your Christmas is serious business. They won’t want to mess with you – a decent Secret Santa gift will be all but assured. Never mind the fact that ‘eggnog latte’ sounds like one of the vilest concoctions ever imagined.
When the office-wide planning emails whizz round, take this one chance in the year to surreptitiously veto crappy ideas. It’s hard being the only person who says ‘no, thanks’ to the medieval banquet. There’s nothing festive about a glut of onion rings arriving on a lance. But you can do it without copying in the whole team. Corner the office gossip and create a ghastly rumour about the choice of venue. Soon, everyone will have miraculously changed their mind of their own free will.
Be late to the party itself. You’d think that Uber and navigation apps would mean nobody is fashionably late any more. Not so, my friend. December is meant to be when workplaces wind down, but it inevitably means staying late to delete hundreds of ‘out of office’ replies. Arriving on time dooms you to at least 15 minutes of sitting alone at a table reserved for 20… while another group glares at you and your many bottles of prosecco.
Once you’ve found the right pile of coats for your office, you’d best head for the bar. Drinking is as expected as that guy who wears a light-up jumper with watch batteries dangling from the sleeve. Choose something mulled if you’re feeling festive, or sneakily order a plain tonic and watch everyone else get sozzled.
If you see a light shining at you, run. Or duck. Or fall over. Or pretend you absolutely must pee right now. It’s the dreaded ‘coworker selfie’. You do not want to get caught up in that. You’ll blink at the wrong moment or squint in the flash, and everyone on Facebook will assume you were drunk. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Spend as little time in the loo as possible. Someone else will likely compensate for it.
You’re entitled to take a swig of your drink every time you see any of these things: an adult dressed as a character from Frozen, an adult dressed as a ‘sexy’ character from Frozen, an alcoholic mince pie, a wrapped present box with nothing inside, your manager’s bum, a discarded elf hat in a toilet cubicle, the worst Santa impersonator ever, a candy cane where one should not be.
At some point during the evening, a Christmas song will start playing in the background. Now is the time to use that talent for lipsyncing you’ve perfected at every church event you didn’t really want to be at. Does anyone honestly know Hymn 24 off by heart? Whatever you do, do NOT actually sing. The recording will stay on someone’s phone until the end of time.
Be neither the first nor last to leave – and make as big a show of going home as possible. I know that goes against everything you quietly stand for, but think about it. Sneaking out the back unnoticed would make you a spoilsport. Going home early, to publicly sacrifice yourself for the sake of tomorrow morning’s bulging inbox, makes you a martyr.
That’s pretty much all you’ve got to worry about until next year. Apart from everyone else’s hangover.