The holidays are about parties and drinking, and yeah I suppose family, but mostly parties and drinking. And there’s no party that people look forward to and simultaneously fear more than the office Christmas party. In what’s become a tradition in this space, I’m here to help you dominate those fateful few hours. Because any sort of misstep or foible could mean getting fired and standing out from the weary masses could mean a promotion.
First, a few of my thoughtful and exceedingly genius tidbits from the columns of Christmas past still hold up today:
2010: Strike up a conversation with your superior and drop some deep dark secret about yourself, like say you contracted cholera during a recent humanitarian trip to Haiti or something to that effect. Fabricate everything. When you tell people secrets it makes them think that you care about them. Your boss will remember that little nugget and begin to treat you more like a peer instead of a lowly underling, even only if he or she thinks you’re dying.
2012: It’s a good chance to get in some face time with the boss to prove that you aren’t the same jackass who turns in reports a week late and uses bullshit office jargon like “paradigm shift,” “action item” and “reaching out.” Tell the boss about the real you — like that time you spent in Syria teaching orphans how to email, or how you were a master-class heli-skier and ballroom dancer during your formative years. What I mean is, lie about the fake you. This tip can apply to all office and personal relationships.
So first and foremost, lying at the office Christmas party is important, because, look at you. But leaving an indelible impression isn’t all about leaving truth at the door:
• If the company Christmas party — or what your boss probably termed, “holiday gathering,” because religious terms and the word “party” make the wet blankets in human resources nervous — is in a conference room and not at a bar, quit your job. If it’s at a bar and that bar isn’t open, quit your job. That isn’t a company that a noble gentleman or lady such as yourself should be toiling for. Cheap, no-fun-having, “I’m going to report you to HR for inappropriate mistletoe use and leaving those voicemails” Scrooge McDucks are what they are.
• Use this time (and the alcohol currently screwing up your courage) to strike up a conversation with that one co-worker you’ve never spoken to. You know, the one who’s been sitting two cubicles over for eight years and you literally haven’t said a single word to each other. Or don’t do that. You two have a pretty good system going. If it ain’t broke, ya know?
• Don’t hook up with a coworker at the party. Unless one of them shows interest, then DO hook up with a coworker at the party.
• Do not be the guy who talks business. There’s at least one every year. He’ll corner you at the bar and open up an hour-long can of worms about the freakin’ Fredericksburg account and why that was such an unmitigated disaster. You aren’t here for that. You’re here to drink free bottom-shelf bourbon and inhale delicious crab cake sandwiches. Plus, you don’t need to be reminded about the Fredericksburg account. You know you dropped the ball and lost the account. Everyone knows how you’re still lucky to have a job and that if your grandfather hadn’t been the one start the company then blah blah blah. Ugh. Put it to rest. The account isn’t coming back. Not after that one expletive-filled email you sent. Jeez.
• Reach out and take action on some items. Create a paradigm shift between you and April from accounting. What I’m saying is, hook up with April from accounting.
• Arrive on time. This isn’t a freakin’ kegger at the Sigma Nu house. We’re adults now. Act like it.
• Wear a festive sweater.
• Get a to-go box for some of those delicious crab cake sandwiches. This is your party, meant to mollify you for the low pay and the long hours you’ve spent surfing Facebook. Milk this cow for all it’s worth.
• If coworkers are clearly drunk and making asses out of themselves, do something about it! You have a camera phone, right?
Now go forth, you sexy cog in the machine, and may the mistletoe that you’ve strategically placed on your belt buckle stay ever green and completely inappropriate!
Connect with Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauterback also is co-host of “Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play weekdays from 6-9. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.