Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas office party tips

The timing of CBS’s The Early Show tips for the Christmas office party was perfect.

Unless you’ve:
1) already attended your party and are now seeking new employment or are part of a witness protection program,

2) already bought a daringly inappropriate outfit that would give your mother a heart attack,

3) decided to avoid the festivities by planning your vacation far, far away like hiking to Nepal,

4) realized that your wild dancing has been posted on YouTube,

5) had too many people capture you on their cellphone cameras to email to friends,

6) possibly drank too much that night, not that you remember, but you wondered why you had Christmas lights strung on you as you staggered home and your co-workers keep humming O Christmas Tree every time you enter a meeting,

7) finally convinced your spouse that perhaps juggling those delicate tree ornaments in front of your boss was not the smashing success he thought it was, although it was smashing,

8) been unable to get that awful curdled eggnog taste out of your mouth and think it may have been spiked with whiskey instead of rum,

9) discovered that wrapping gifts in toilet paper was another bright idea to flush down the toilet,

10) found it’s taking much longer for those stitches to heal than you thought after jumping out the window to avoid talking a third hour with the most eccentric co-worker about his collection of junk mail that he has stacked in the attic for the past decade to block UFOs from reading his mind.

If you haven’t attended your office Christmas party yet, there’s still hope.

Tracy Smith, from CBS, presented a story this morning that included advice ranging from etiquette experts to someone who works for Saks stores.

Some of the main points for good Christmas party etiquette included:

1) Don’t get tipsy. The television show aired a rather grainy video of a clearly inebriated woman badmouthing her boss — while her boss was right beside her. He was telling her how inappropriate and offensive her comments were, while she swayed a bit. What could be more embarrassing than this? Probably having this air in front of millions of people later and run several times as an example of what not to do in front of a boss. If he still is the boss.

2) Keep skin to a minimum. The experts urged people to think about what is appropriate to wear for these office parties, and remember that it’s a party and not a nightclub. Clothing stores must hate this advice going out to the public at this time of year: after all, the law of shopping is the less material in the outfit, the higher the cost of the outfit, and the better it is for business in these stores.

3) Consider going alone. The reporter listed off the accessories such as a purse or jewelry that women contemplate taking along to parties, and stressed as much thought should be given about the spouse who is going along … and, it appears, it just another accessory. Who knew? “Will that person be helpful to you?” asked the experts. It became clear the spouse was not there to celebrate the occasion or enjoy a lovely evening with a loved one, but rather is a valuable accessory to help the employee get what they want at the company. Otherwise, leave the date at home. Again, who knew? And how does one diplomatically approach the spouse to say he’s not wanted at the party? “Well, I’ve got the matching purse, earrings, rings, shoes and … oh, I’m sorry, you just don’t go with the dress this year, dear. Again. There’s cold turkey in the fridge left over from Thanksgiving. I’m sure it’s still safe to eat, but here’s the Emergency Clinic phone number just in case.”

4) Plan what to say. You may have finally figured out what to do with your accessory spouse (yeah or nay to attendance), but now it’s time to decide what to say to the boss, the fellow employees, and anyone else who can make or break you at the company. Shouting supersensitive budget information across the table while trying to drown out the Christmas music might not be the best thing to do. Nor is sharing those offensive jokes that include sex, politics, races, swear words or anything that begins with “knock, knock” or ends with “pull my finger.”

5) Have an exit strategy. Pay the babysitter an extra tip if she follows through with a fake emergency call at precisely the exact time you wished to leave the party. Know where the closest exits are in case you are trapped with the office bore for longer than humanly possible to endure. Pretend to have a rare, exotic illness that tends to flare up and need immediate attention. Or just yell “fire” and run quickly.

6) Look for a new job. If you plan to ignore the rest of the rules and there’s a strong chance the Christmas party will be a disaster, update the resume the day of the party or the day after.

One last thought: Tonight is our company's party.

Time to go review those etiquette tips again…

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