Friday, October 2, 2009

Surviving the Christmas night out

Okay, so you’ve only joined the workforce in the past year and this is your first Christmas night out with your new colleagues. Or maybe, you’ve recently transferred from a company that didn’t believe in the whole concept of Christmas and you’re about to experience the office party experience for the first time. A Christmas night out virgin, somewhat apprehensive about the whole experience, what are the pitfalls that you can fall in to on this most difficult of evenings?
Probably the most common fallacy about the Christmas night out is that it is something separate from the normal routine of office politics. Far from it. Do not be lulled into believing that over familiarity with the boss, or with his wife, will be banished completely from his mind when you show up for work again on the following Monday. Despite his protestations of camaraderie at the beginning of the night, slapping his head and calling him Baldilocks will not endear you to him any time in the near future. Nor will groping his wife on the dance floor.
Which leads us nicely onto the misconception that at Christmas nights out it is necessary to down copious amounts of alcohol in order to have a good time. I am sure some people see this as a way of dealing with colleagues that they can’t abide – and in truth I can see where they are coming from on this – but in reality, if you don’t overdo it, you have much more fun.
It may be harder mentally to dance when not completely jarred but at least a semblance of hand-eye coordination is helpful. Someone is bound to have a camera so unless you want your worst excesses recorded for posterity, there’s no point in overdoing it. It will also save you from going to sleep in an alleyway on the way home and waking up with pneumonia.
But the sobriety issue is particularly true on the following work day when you can sidle up to a sheepish colleague and whisper “How’s the trousers?” and all sorts of lurid thoughts will run through his mind as he tries to make sense of it. “Did Madeleine get home all right?” will also leave him stumped, especially if there is no-one called Madeleine in the workforce.
You should also be prepared for the manager who approaches you on the night out and begins a conversation with “I don’t want to talk shop but...” This is particularly dangerous as it would be unwise to offend but you run the risk of getting cornered for two hours while the geek from accounts gets off with the wan from sales that you had your eye on all evening. Probably the best tack is to endure him for five minutes and then protest a weak bladder.
It’s probably a good idea too to have a set time that you intend to leave at. Naturally, it can’t be too soon in the evening or everyone will think you’re only showing up for the food and not for the joy of socialising with your workmates. And it’s never a great feeling to be the last person left in the establishment with the table groaning with the weight of sixteen pints bought hurriedly when the shutters are coming down.
There is always a certain point in every Christmas night out, after which the proceedings start to deteriorate badly and you are sorry you didn’t leave two hours earlier while relatively capable. The trick is trying to hit that point as accurately as possible. It’s normally some time between midnight and one o’clock so it might be a good idea to get your partner to pick you up around then, giving you a perfect excuse for leaving the jollifications.
The most important thing to bear in mind, though, is that there is only one thing worse than waking up the morning after the Christmas night out and remembering all the embarrassing things you did the night before.
Not remembering them.

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