Soon there will be lots of “Ho, ho, ho-ing”, cheesy Christmas songs and jingle bells and of course the works Christmas Party. For some this is the highlight of the year – everyone letting their hair down, drinks and nibbles courtesy of the company, an opportunity to wear that new glitzy LBD, a bit of office networking and of course the token flirtation with colleagues. I find the over-indulgence of alcohol frees tongues and peoples’ true personalities are revealed.
I have many fond memories of parties in the UK but every year there was always some poor soul going into hiding, mortified by antics relayed by colleagues, which they themselves could not recall. It seems that unlike other countries, the whole point of the Christmas party for the English is the equivalent of a social laxative for the constraints of office life. The relaxed setting with copious amounts of alcohol result in the kind of excesses that represent some sort of release from the constipated English social inhibitions and good old-fashioned stiff upper lip. This can be the only explanation of why so many people tell the boss how much they hate their job. Of course, far more embarrassing things could and do happen at the business function of the year.
My previous employer always held their Christmas parties at posh hotels, which included accommodation and free bar. This annual event supplied everyone in the office with plenty of stories for months on end. Tales of who was throwing up in a wastepaper bin, the MD’s PA, flushed with fighting juice hitting another girl with a champagne bottle and the accounts clerk who ended up putting on a display that would not have been out of place in a lap dancing club, photos of which miraculously appeared in her managers in-tray on Monday morning.
I remember a rather large male decided to photocopy his ample backside. It all started well enough, but shortly after pressing the green button, he heard an alarming crack. Before he could get off, the glass cover broke trapping him inside the copier. Despite the fact that he had several sharp shards of glass sticking into him, he chuckled happily, as the ambulance crew prised him out. There was the former colleague that was caught weeing on the Christmas tree. Dave the salesman whose party trick was sticking his head inside a condom then blowing it up until it burst. The embarrassment of my own daughter, showing her knickers as she bend forward to pick a matchbox off the floor with her teeth and my most hilarious memory is the chap who having had too much to drink lost his false teeth, to this day we don´t know where they went.
By far the safest place at the works party is the dance-floor. This can however hold its own potential dangers. The dancers, usually male, seen running around the floor to Madness. The senior colleague ordinarily very quiet, fuelled with a few wines too many to conquer his nerves and subsequently trying to grope all the women plus one or two of the men and the young vixens shaking their booty in skimpy frocks and stilettos, who gradually became more and more incoherent as the evening progressed.
Without doubt though, the major hazard of the works Christmas party is the drunken ‘romantic’ liaisons that occur for one night only. The ‘temp’ caught with the boss’s mistress in the cleaner’s cupboard. The guy trapped by the office temptress while his amused colleagues looked on. He was ribbed about it for several months afterwards and never used the photocopier on her floor. Dave and Sue who set a new world record for ignoring each other at work since a brief but passionate encounter. (I learnt several years later they had left their respective partners and married). Even bedtime at the posh hotel did not stop the capers as during the course of the night, fire alarms were set off and everyone was herded into the car park in freezing temperatures and in various states of undress. The only fun derived was from watching who was appearing with whom from their rooms!
Considering the fact that the Brits are meant to be a reserved nation, we seem to dispel this vicious rumour very well during the silly season. All I can say is it’s Christmas – if you can’t let your hair down at this time of year, when can you?