MOLLY SCHOEMANN: What’s not to like about a holiday party? Even when it’s being thrown by your employer—it’s still a party! If you get parties thrown for you so often that you can afford to scoff at your company holiday party, then perhaps you should consider inviting me to some of those parties so that I can experience a taste of the good life. I’m just saying. I like parties.
You can wear a party dress, for one thing. And I for one have a much easier time finding nice dresses that I can wear to social events in the winter, yet somehow 90% of the social events I am invited to happen during the summer, so I particularly need the company holiday party in order to justify the purchase of cute winter dress. Not to mention that there’s usually free booze, and good food. Often there’s music! And the lighting is flattering.
Granted, there are probably dry company holiday parties, but they make baby Jesus cry. The main point of the office holiday party is that it gives your company a chance to say “Thank you for working for me. I appreciate what you do. Now go get drunk and eat some spinach dip.” It’s more difficult for a company to say “Thank You” with fruit punch and ginger ale than it is with unlimited wine and rum and cokes. It’s possible, but there had better be some damn good spinach dip, and maybe a raffle or something.
Sure, you already spend 40 hours a week with most of these people—but do you spend any of those business hours attempting to line-dance while clutching a glass of wine in one hand and a crab cake in the other? And if you do, is your company hiring? I can freelance.
Finally, as most of us know, what happens at the office holiday party, stays at the office holiday party. Did you end up spilling wine down the front of your dress? Crying in the bathroom? Requesting that the DJ play ‘Shoop’ and then booty dancing on that guy from Accounting? By Monday morning, it should be old news. And if not, at least it will give everyone something to talk about in the break room until you walk in to get a soda and they all go quiet. Good times.
AKIE BERMISS: Off the bat: I am the opposite of Molly. I don’t like parties. At all. I don’t like parties, or parades, or fairs, or rallies. I get supremely uncomfortable when I jammed up in a place with a couple hundred or so people and we’re supposed to be having a good time. For a good time, I like to sit at home, drink with my cats, and watch Columbo. If that’s what a holiday party entailed — I’d be at every holiday party I can get my hands on.
And, if I have to go to a holiday party (and I often do), then it had BETTER have an open bar. Otherwise what kind of party is it? After age 24, can you really call something that has no alcohol a “party”? Without booze, its just festive snacking.
So let’s say you’re like me and you hate holiday parties but you are find yourself forced to go. If this party is worth its salt, it’ll have an open bar and bartenders and the whole nine. So there’s that immediate solace. But be careful my curmudgeon compatriots — there are two kinds of boozey holiday parties and while there are some things they have in common (the many varied debaucheries that Molly depicted, dancing, drinking, making bad decisions, and having regrets), they are fundamentally different based primarily on the KIND of company that is throwing the party.
The type A holiday party is my preference. Its the company that has mostly married and staid employees. The type of people who have basically been working long enough to call what they do a career. They’re in the company til they retire. They have pensions, 401Ks, there’s no real office gossip (everybody knows everybody’s perversions and idiosyncracies). The food is usually VERY good, if not super diverse, and the bar is stocked with the best kinds of fire-water money can buy. Usually, this kind of party is going to have a live band, and adequate lighting for eating, drinking, and sitting quietly with a Blackberry. This is MY kind of party. Normally, it has a cocktail hour at around 730 — and everyone gets there around 715 to drink unimpeded for 30 straight minutes before dinner. When they get into the main room, they are absolutely piss drunk and talking all kinds of nonsense. Dinner goes from 8 – 9. And then there’s supposed to be dancing. Normally, a party like this is scheduled to go until maybe 11 or 12. But with this kind of company, you’ll find that once the food is gone — the people get going to. They’ve got kids to get home to, babysitters to pay, errands to run the next day. And they don’t necessarily like “hanging out” with their office friends. So if the food is done at 9 — this party is over by 1030.
And the band plays on.
Now the type B holiday party is MUCH, MUCH worse. This is the kind the of party that a company throws when the majority of its staff is young, and hip, and undulating. The kind of kids who are at the company as they work up enough background to apply to grad school, or wait for so-and-so to propose, or just to pay the bills so that they can finance their aspirations for rock stardom. These people don’t usually have husbands or wives, they’ve got boyfriends and girlfriends. Maybe. And if they ARE married, its the cool young married. Maybe there is A kid — but generally, they’ve not gotten around to it yet. And this party gets going at 730 and doesn’t end until 1a. You’ll know you’re at one of these parties when you walk in. If the venue is essentially a dark cavern with little points of light from all the candles. If the there’s a DJ and he or she can’t seem to find anything to play other than Josh Grobin, Michael Buble, or Jason Mraz. And if, when you walk further in, you realize that the venue sports not only a dining area and a dance floor but also a few rides you’d expect to find in an amusement park, and DIY stations for like cupcakes or ice cream or something, and they’re giving out big sunglasses and top hats and plastic canes and whistles and things — well, then you are at a type B party.
And you’re in for the long haul.
This party is going to feature mostly dark space that is only good for getting drunk, dancing, and making out indiscriminately. There’ll be a veritable feast of foods from all over the globe. Buffet style, like the type A party, but now in order to get a full plate of food you’ll have to go to like six different “stations”. There’s an Asian station, an Italian station, a Burgers and Fries station, a vegan/pescaterian station, and so on and so forth. When you finally do get your food, you may have to eat it standing up! This is gonna be one of those parties where they figured people would want to mingle a lot and so they’ll have lots of those tall cocktail tables around and fewer clunky, old sit-down tables. And the booze is usually somewhat wanting at these parties. There’ll be plenty of sweet, syrupy crap for crazy cocktails, but this is the kind of even where you aren’t likely to find a good rum (they’ll have Bacardi), whiskey (they’ll have Johnnie Walker Black Label), or wine (can you say Yellowtail?). This is the kind of party where, if you ask for a Martini — they’ll ask you if you want it with vodka or gin.
Dinner happens at 8. and its over by 9. And then: the dancing begins. And it keeps happening until about 1130 — when the drunker singles start pairing off and heading over to a dark corner to make good on the sloppy innuendos they’ve made at each other on the dance floor. If you’re even remotely lucky, the night will end for you around this time. And you’ll be out of there at midnight and home in time to catch the tail-end Craig Ferguson’s show before you nod off on the couch. If you’re not lucky (and chances are, by this point, you will know that you ain’t) then you’ll probably get wind of one of the five or six semi-official after-parties in various parts of town. There’ll be one at a straight up bar (for the hardcore drinkers), one at a club (for the hardcore dancers), and not a few at the local all-night diners (for the hardcore eaters). There might even be one at someone’s house or apartment (generally for the hardcore “hangers”). This is the do-or-die sudden death quarter for those desperate people trying to hook-up that haven’t quite sealed the deal yet.
The after parties are an even more curious peek at the human condition and modern sociology. If you’re interested, and you can stomach it, go check those out. That, however, is great enough of a subject for its own discourse at a later date. For now, the holiday season is nearly over and all is well. Soon it will be January and there’ll be nothing to celebrate for a few months at least.
And, after the holiday parties, that’s probably a good thing for everyone: time to start thinking about vacations!