Ahh, the office Christmas party…
How many times have you been to a Christmas party, not remembered how you’ve got home and then for the rest of the following day, pieced together what happened “Momento” style, grimacing as each scene comes into sharp focus? It happens to us all (not me, obviously), and it’s a simple equation that gets us there.
Alcohol + Office Staff = Danger
There’s another, more complex equation involving broom cupboards and photocopiers, but we’ll leave you to work that one out.
Put simply, the office party is where anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, but the results can be spectacularly bad for those involved, simply because the stakes are so much higher.
Take, for example, a party I was at over a decade ago. It started off well with most people turning up to the event sober, at least, but then the MD declared that it had been such a good year, we should have a free bar. There’s the first mistake.
The party was at a hotel, and about four hours in, it turned out that the hotel toilets had been damaged. It seems some of the staff had decided to settle some year-long grievances with a bit of a scuffle. An ambulance ride and a call from security got it all sorted and generally, the lid was kept on this one, disaster averted. The boss just offered to pay for any damage.
But, as midnight passed and people started on the shots and cocktails involving strange coloured mixers, something happened that changed things quite quickly.
The bosses wife was found, well, let’s just say found, in a room with one of the other managers.
The result? Five people lost their jobs that night, one person also lost some teeth, and a ban was put on all office gatherings.
So based on a history of seeing this happen, here’s how to avoid ending up at the Job Centre in January.
Watch your drink
It’s not just about watching how much you drink, but also what you drink. Some people who are trying to cut back a bit will stop drinking beer (all the empty calories are really no good) and instead hit the shorts. However, whiskey, vodka, gin, they all need toning down a bit, so the mixers turn up and make the drinks all the more drinkable.
Whiskey and Coke? Down in one. Vodka and orange? Bit more to get past the gag reflex, but still pretty quick to drink, and you’re getting a vitamin C shot! Part of your five a day? Unlikely, but we can dream.
The thing is, they also have much more alcohol in them and doubles “only cost a pound extra”, how many times have we made THAT mistake?
There’s also the issue of people spiking your drink. Yes, it happens a lot. If your drink is out of sight for more than a few minutes and you happen to have an office joker nearby, watch he doesn’t slip a vodka in there.
And of course, slow down. It’s hard, but one drink can be enough to push you over the edge from “slightly staggered walk to the taxi rank” to “taking a wee on the central reservation while cars rush past honking the horn”.
The end of the night is usually when it all goes wrong. You’ve been sensible and stuck to drinking craft ales all night, savouring the taste and talking about the honourable process of brewing with your friends. And then someone pulls out the Icelandic Schnapps. Goodbye brain, hello pain.
Mixing drinks is a bad idea, not because of some magical chemistry that makes gin molecules react with yeast to cause headaches, but because of the volume. Beer is a looooooong drink and takes effort. Whiskey is a short drink that also takes effort because of the harsh taste. However, having already got drunk on the beer, it’s much easier to knock back.
Don’t, you’ll regret it.
Relationships can be ruined
There’s a romantic notion that the person you’ve wanted to ask out on a date all year might just be drunk enough to accept at the office party. However, people are different outside work, and the party is where all inhibitions are cut loose.
While the young intern may well find romance on the night, the rest of you could end up in a whole heap of trouble.
Of course, everyone says, “what happens at the office party, stays at the office party” but these days it’s different. Everyone had a smartphone, and there’s bound to be someone walking around with a selfie stick, so there’s every chance that what happens at the party will probably end up on Facebook.
With you tagged.
So your wife/husband can see it.
Stay off the dancefloor when the Macarena plays
You WILL look like an idiot and someone will post it to YouTube.