Office Party Survival Guide

'Tis the season for holiday office parties — and the opportunity to make a fool of yourself in front of the boss. But have no fear! Day to Day humorist Brian Unger presents his "10-Step Office Party Survival Guide":

Step One: Don't RSVP. This can be done pre-emptively by marking all office e-mail correspondence as spam. You can always say you didn't get the e-mail. Then, if you do decide to show up, it's a nice surprise!

Step Two: For men, the most important thing to remember about Christmas parties is don't bring a professional escort. It's likely you'll be permitted a guest — a "plus one" — but a working girl is not an option — especially for the office party. Chances are, you'll leave alone as she trades up for a higher-earning colleague. And that's downright embarrassing.

Step Three: Women I surveyed offer this important tip for other women: Don't dress like a professional escort. Women in the office who ration Post-It notes 9 to 5 tend to throw off the Chico's "goddess look" for a Britney Spears bustier. Christmas cleavage will alter your colleague's perception of you forever. Bring a guest, not a ...well, you know what I mean.

Step Four: Once you're at the party, don't drink. Alcohol is a social lubricant — and the office Christmas party is not a social occasion. It's work. After the party, you'll have to go back to a professional environment, and make a seamless return to resenting each other without someone knowing you're a big drunk — or picturing you with your underwear on your head.

Step Five: On a related topic, don't bring a bottle of wine. It's usually a safe bet that the one thing the party will have is plenty of booze. If you want to be remembered for your gift, bring a puppy.

Step Six: Because others will drink too much, bring a recording device. A hostile work environment lawsuit could be the gift that keeps on giving this season.

Step Seven: Gentlemen, avoid being the kooky guy with the mistletoe. Women do not want to kiss you.

Step Eight: Generally speaking, don't ridicule the plastic Santa and his reindeer affixed to your neighbor's cubicle. It's not meant to be ironic. Your neighbor thinks all 8000 watts are an artistic expression of the holiday spirit.

Step Nine: Working parents, always bring your newborn children to the holiday party. Nothing requires you to leave sooner and causes others to want you to leave sooner than the sound of an infant wailing.

Step Ten: Singles should plan an exit strategy. This begins by parking on the street, not in a driveway or where another car is blocking you. Never valet. Don't let anyone take your coat and hide it in the upstairs netherworld or labyrinth of rooms you won't be permitted to enter on your own. Upon arrival, immediately announce that you have to leave... for another holiday party. And for all aspects of the exit strategy, wear comfortable shoes — for the standing, the off-site parking, the search for your coat and the climb over the Muppet nativity scene.

Follow these simple rules, and have a safe and sane holiday office party. And here's a bonus tip: Have fun by not expecting to have any. The lower your expectations, the grander the party.

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