This year I’m breaking down my Christmas hate into bite-sized morsels. Today’s topic: Christmas parties. I don’t mind them, generally, if they’re held at a nice place with good food and drink. I don’t even mind an office potluck if it’s during work hours, since you’re eating and playing hooky, both of which are pleasurable activities. But you’re getting into “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time” territory when you have an office party after work hours that’s a potluck, especially when it’s at someone’s house, as a friend is attending tonight.
What the fuck is wrong with people? If you can’t afford a Christmas party and can’t take time off during work to have a potluck, just don’t have a goddam Christmas party. It’s not that complicated. Your company will survive without one more bout of work-related enforced merriment.
Back in the happy times (1990’s) the consulting firm I worked for went all out for their holiday party – fancy setting, great food, free booze & a cigar bar – all first class. Then the darkness hit & we got eaten by a behemoth. After that the party was at the bosses house, potluck, byob. From a morale standpoint it would have been better to just let it go.
The above is unedited – wtf got it into moderation? Seriously somebody tell me so I can avoid it.
I agree with the timing of the party unless the company is a small close knit group of employees who like each other. Otherwise, my feelings about company parties on my own time is I may have to work with them, but I don’t have to play with them.
One of my coworkers usually has a Christmas party at his house each year, which I always enjoy. It is not a potluck, however.
One real disadvantage of office parties is that the talk sometimes turns to politics and/or economics, and you get to find out just how loony some of your co-workers really are. Now, sometimes you’ll discover the occasional non-loony, and that’s a nice thing– but for the most part, I’m fairly sure I don’t want to know the precise crackpot economic theory that the guy in the office next door subscribes to.
That’s the kind of thing I just wouldn’t go to. Much like a friend whose annual rotating neighborhood picnic landed this year on a neighbor who wrote “no children please” on the invite. That’s bullshit, and should not be encouraged.
@jibeaux: No children at a picnic? Sheesh.
@MattF: That’s why it’s good policy to not drink at an office party. Seriously.
What the fuck is wrong with you? You no likey the potluck, don’t go to the fucking potluck, asshole. I had fun with my fellow teachers at an after work potluck which was well-planned, well-attended and yeah, we all got well fed so the problem is where exactly? Fuck all of you people shitting on my parties with your new-fangled youthful cynicism and GET THE FUCK OFF MY LAWN!!!
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
I agree with you, but I’m a pretty well known Scrooge. We had our NAMI party last night, for members and their families. Mostly it was clients of mental health services, with a few of our board members and some folks who have kids/siblings who are “consumers,” in the language NAMI uses. We brought plenty of little Inexpensive gifts, and some members brought some too. I confess that it was great fun going around to see how people liked the gifts they selected off the table, once they had opened them.
OT – Christoper Hitchens died.
@cathyx: Yes, a neighborhood picnic, outdoors, on a fall afternoon. Apparently everyone was supposed to get a babysitter for that. I understand it was not well-attended; probably only folks who wondered if there was going to be some sort of cocktails-and-orgy component to this no-children picnic.
Christ, Mix, calm the fuck down. It’s just a gathering of work peeps to drink beer and talk football, while the womenfolk bitch about the amount of beer you drink and kavetch about the amount of time you discuss football.
I’ve attended a few really good parties: One year the law firm held a dinner-dance at the Plaza Hotel (before it was sold to Trump), other years the law firm sponsored division or work group luncheons and also gave a corporate gift from Tiffany’s (winbe decanter, and pitcher with stemware). One publishing company (a technical/science firm) hosted a dinner at Bentley’s (a club in Manhattan), and one year at the Top of the Beekman Hotel (cozy little bistro with great views of the City). The non-profit sometimes did lunch at a restaurant and sometimes did potluck luncheons, in either case work stopped for the day. The law publisher didn’t do anything. They were true cheapskates, as was another publisher who didn’t do anything for the holidays. And way many years ago, one company I worked for as a temp for more than year, allowed me to participate in the corporate luncheon at the top of the Pam Am Building. That place had views!
One friend took me to a holiday party given by the engineering firm she worked for. I spent most of that dinner (at Bentley’s) talking with one of her co-workers, who made me feel very welcome to the group.
last night i went to a fake ‘office xmas party’, for brooklynites who freelance or work at home. hilarious. all office parties should be like that.
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A few years back (2000) at my company’s annual Christmas party, a nice fairly formal thing at a local hotel, they took the podium to introduce the man who was just brought in as the new Plant Manager. The first thing the guy said was “I don’t know why it’s considered a good idea for the company to host a Christmas party. This will be the last one.” And it was.
@xulon: Sheesh. That outta be in a movie.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
I’m not fond of being around people either, but it is very interesting how many BJ FPers write articles about how evil it is for people to get together in some organized capacity. Between this and Doug’s old “aethists don’t need no stinkin’ get together” it’s almost hilarious.
@xulon: Let me guess: Mr New Plant Manager turned out to be a stingy, heartless SOB at the plant too, right?
I tend to enjoy a pot luck. At least I know there will be one thing I like to eat there. Most catered food is awful except for the occasional, really expensive caterer.In my circles the really expensive doesn’t come up too often.
When I was teaching we couldn’t, of course, just close up during the work day so any social events were after hours. Around October someone would start a list of who wanted to do a holiday party. Among the folks who did want one they thrashed out the what, when, where & how. Those who wanted to go did, those who didn’t want to or couldn’t go didn’t & all was well. Of course someone or some few always complained afterwards but we generally knew who would & paid no mind.
@xulon: That is an awesome story.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent): It’s not so much that it’s evil, as not-morale-building. If there’s no pressure to attend an after-work potluck holiday party, that’s fine, but if there’s an expectation that you’ll be there, it’s lame. Morale is built with free food and/or playing hooky.
A co-worker had a holiday party last weekend that doubled as an “I brewed too much beer and need people to help finish off these eight kegs” event. That worked for me.
Two similar events:
I was sitting across from a manager & the big boss was congratulating people on individual accomplishment during the year. He ended with “And we should all give best wishes to ‘manager’ as he has taken a new job in a different division in the company. Manager looks stunned, I said “So congrats are in order?” He answered “I guess, but I didn’t know I had applied for a different job!”
Different company, new VP introducing himself: “And I’m not afraid of meeting challenges, I was a Navy Seal, I have killed people”. I got up, went to my desk & sent out my resume to a friend & was hired before the end of the month. The guy was exposed as a fraud & he ran the division into the ground.
The Republic of Stupidity
Someone got out of the grinch side of the bed this morning…
Do we need to send around the merriment police to look into this?
The guy who very enthusiastically introduced the new manager at the party and who also helped him find a home in the area was axed within two months.
In the 90’s my company gave a party at a hotel every year – prime rib, shrimp, bar, dancing, the whole nine yards. Yesterday’s Holiday Extravaganza got a big buildup, and turned out to be squashed turkey sandwiches and chips in a styrofoam clamshell. The business is doing pretty well, evidenced by the welcome holiday bonus. It’s a smallish family-owned business. I wonder if the difference in tax rates makes a difference – when they had to pay more in taxes, they may as well plow it back into the business or please the employees, but now they can take it home in sacks of cash.
There was always something to be said about the drunken blowout holiday party – you could show your ass, make out with co-workers, behave like a lout and embarrass your spouse. It was expected, and tended to humanize a workspace.
Now, everything is just fucking dull.
Can't Be Bothered
Amen mix. There are by far too many extracurricular, stupid events employees are expected to attend. I don’t know why we as humans put ourselves through so many different “obligatory” events every year, with a particular concentration around the holidays. It’s a neverending parade of vapid, meaningless interaction with people we don’t particularly know or care to know. Last weekend was going to my spouse’s office christmas party, where the fucking spouses had to get a white elephant gift for other spouses we had never met before in our entire fucking lives. Oh yeah, and the gift was a “gag” tool. WHY!? Why do we do these things? Let’s see, spend Saturday night with my actual friends or drive 40 minutes each way to the boss’s house to chit chat about bullshit with a bunch of people I could give less than two shits about? I’m beginning to hate Christmas more and more every year, which is horribly depressing b/c it was always my favorite and “magical.”
It was a revelation to me, on the cusp of the 80’s, when the bank I was working for at 19 basically loaded up the punch bowl Christmas Eve morning and we were off to the races.
Little work got done that day, I can tell you.
I’m a big advocate of the idea that if you’re going to have a party at your home, you should give them food. Potlucks only work with close friends. Now, while I like the people I work with, only one or two of my coworkers are people I would consider “friends.” I’d rather my workplace ply me with free food. But the chance to play hooky is worthwhile, as well.
I now have my dream job of working in a semi-academic research environment, but one of the things I miss about working in corporate America is the decadent Christmas parties. Academia/research just doesn’t have the budget or the authorization for events with an open bar.
I am at this very moment enjoying a plate of rather tasty party food leftover from my office’s secret Santa festivities, which I opted out of. It’s all good here.
The corporation where I work used to pull bullshit where they would throw a Christmas dinner on a Wednesday night and expect you to still be at work bright and early the next day. They paid for the dinner but the division I used to be in was run by Evangelicals and they were non-alcohol affairs where you were expected to dress in your finest and listen to them give intolerably dull speeches and smile at them.
Me being a radical hippie traitor, I never went. Screw that noise. I’m not giving them one of my weeknights during the holiday season when I’m there 40+ hours a week. I left that division 6 years ago and now work in a Regional facility where the environment isn’t feudal, employees are treated with professionality & respect & the holiday dinner occurs today starting at 11:00 at one of the nicest Country Clubs in Oakland (with alcohol).
What is it with the pious religious types anyhow?
I totally flaked on one of these this year. I said I was going to go one 2+ occasions and then the day of I realized I didn’t want to go. The best excuse I could come up with was, “I have a hangover.” Which was true, but the party was in the evening. In my defense, it was like a 30 minute drive.
I don’t understand what’s any more objectionable about the party you describe than any other party with coworkers.
I work for a public university, and it’s actually against state regulations for the department to fund a party for itself. The university has one big party for all faculty/staff, but it’s in the middle of the workday with mediocre campus catering and no booze. Feels more like an obligation than a party.
So we had a departmental party at someone’s house. It was BYOB and a bunch of higher-ups chipped in for the catering. The first suggestion was potluck, but I pushed strongly to nix that. And you know, it turned out to be really, really fun.
My husband works for a private university and it was a fancy shindig with unlimited wine at a nice restaurant. Waaaaaay different. But also fun.
I have to admit, I don’t share the work holiday party angst that I lot of people I know experience. Maybe it’s because I have two small kids and babysitters are expensive, but I don’t really get to go to many adult parties otherwise. I’m sure I’d feel differently if I had something better to do on a Friday night, but I don’t…
Geez, mistermix, if you hate em, don’t go…your lack of enjoyment won’t be missed.
I am a big fan of the in-office with booze before quitting time kind of party. Then hitting the bar with the coworkers you actually like and getting plastered. One of the few things I miss now that I have my own company (sans staff).
Once I have staff I will do that for sure, bring in a good caterer as well. A good office party really builds morale.
The potluck as someone’s house only works if everyone wants to attend. Mandatory parties are bullshit.
If it will make you feel any better, mistermix, over at my joint I have a picture of Frosty raping Santa Claus.
Ho ho ho, indeed.
Cris (without an H)
If you work for the right kind of company, the Christmas party has a bong.
when you have an office party after work hours
Boss: The party is after work and you all have to go.
Dilbert: But we hate spending free time with each other.
Boss: I didn’t say it was a reward.
my employer at the time (NYNEX and/or BellAtlantic) allowed managers $1.25/reporting person for xMas munchies xMas eve day. Most managers (and I was unusually luck in that regard in my career) would be too embarrased to fill out that voucher, and just took us to breakfast on their dime. The schmucks who followed the rules invariably went Dominoes and 2 liter Coke.
Just say no to potluck.
The Giant Evil Corporation I work for canceled all official holiday parties when the big crash happened in 2008, so we switched to a potluck lunch at the office. They’ve been really successful because we theme them — last year was A Rat Pack Holiday and this year was Hawaiian Holiday, so everyone brought Hawaiian food and wore aloha shirts. It was really fun.
In my early working days, I overindulged at the open bar at a Christmas party and ended up waking up the next morning not remembering anything. A lot of people remembered, for years. I don’t like being around drunk people when I’m sober and I stay sober at work parties. I will not be “the guy who drank to much at the party” guy until my retirement party.
I think you should have saved this post for the airing of grievances portion of Festivus
Well I’m in the “Wow, what’s the matter with you, Mix?” camp.
One place I worked had a “holiday dance” which I thought was kind of weird and oddly high schoolish… but I guess it’s not that uncommon. The one time I went was a really good time that ended well so I suppose I can’t complain.
Currently I ignore any company wide holiday things, but our lab does do a gathering at my bosses house.
When I was a young lawyer, I worked at a small boutique firm in Del Mar (tony beach suburb of San Diego). Our office was two blocks from the beach, and I would go surfing every day on my lunch hour.
We had four parties a year, minimum – Christmas, Spring, Fourth of July, and random birthdays. All parties were held at the Del Mar racetrack, where the boss was a member of the Turf Club, and all were during business hours. We would start at lunch with great food and cocktails, and the boss would hand around $100 bills for betting and teach us the finer points of boxed trifectas.
I am seriously not kidding about any of this. Those parties are where I learned (a) how to hold my liquor and (b) how to bet on the ponies. I still love to do both.
I believe the “thinking” goes so:
People sin because it’s a good time.
So all good times have the capacity to lead to sinning.
Thus, we must avoid all good times.
Have you ever heard Bob Newharts “Retirement Party” routine? Best drunk honesty bit ever.
Puritans banned bear-baiting not because it brought pain to the bear but because it brought pleasure to the viewer.
– Mark Twain
@Schlemizel: Yes but the Pilgrims did like their drink. It was one of the few pleasures afforded them. They just couldn’t be drunks.
@kindness: Well, that was colonial times. Laborers expected their ration of beer or spirits along with their wages!
Heh heh. Founding Fathers indeed.
Asked and delivered.
In a lifetime of employment I’ve worked for one(1) place that did the Christmas/holiday/go-pagan party right. Ironically, it was an engineering firm (and let me tell you how rare this combination is).
They rented a hotel ballroom and catered a good dinner avec open bar. They held contests before dinner and had a DJ afterwards, interspersed with prize drawings for some pretty spiffy stuff (I once won two cases of wine). Those who traveled a distance could get rooms for the night.
Just before dinner, the office manager spoke just long enough to say, “Thanks, everybody for all your hard work and a great year. And a special thanks to the party committee–let’s give them a hand. Now enjoy the party.”
Fin. And we did. One year, a competitor had their party in the adjacent ballroom. Well into the evening I peered in while our joint was rocking it pretty loud. A company bigwig was droning to the assembled, seated crowd in the darkened room with, yes, a powerpoint presentation behind him. I’ve seldom felt luckier for having landed in the right place.
@WereBear: Before water was sanitary, liquors and beers could well have been significantly safer for drinking.
We just had our company party this week. After-hours (well, 5-6, during which time we’re usually all still actually hard at work). Small company, under 20 people. Potluck and a yankee swap. And it was a fantastic time, probably the most I’ve enjoyed a holiday party (and a firm where I used to work was notorious for throwing major parties, multiple live bands and so on – which I didn’t enjoy as much as the one this week).
How many Rebs for one Yankee?
@WereBear: Exactly. The water wasn’t safe so they drank beer and wine. They did frown upon distilled spirits (the wooses).
Why they didn’t learn to put the outhouses far away from where they got their water….who knows?
Yesterday we spent about 30 minutes fiddling with Skype and trying to reconnect broken links to hear a three-minute message from the company president wishing us Happy Holidays and thanking us for all our hard work.
At least we got to go out for pizza afterward.
There’s a great deal of confusion about work collegiality vs. social friendships in this country. They should not be confused.
Parties are for friends. Co-workers are not “friends” although some co-workers may become friends. Co-workers who become friends should hold parties for each other on their own time, as friends do.
I think the confusion arises because in this country, everyone has so little time off to perform REAL socializing that the function gets incorporated into the workday.
It’s a cruel misapprehension that co-workers = friends.
Cordiality, brisk efficiency, and civility are all that should be required of co-workers — not forced “affection”, gift-giving, and other activities that occur between real friends.
If employers really want to make people happy, they should just give them the time off and the money that the employer would have blown on a caterer, and say “Enjoy your holiday with the ones you love!”
I have perhaps 10 people on earth I actually enjoy spending time with. (Five of them live in my house.) The mere fact that I happen to work in the same office as you does not make us friends, nor does it mean I want to socialize with you.
I am a firm believer in taking a genuine interest in the people who work for/with me. Understanding their circumstances, rewarding their successes, helping them through failures. But please don’t confuse that with friendship.
I’m with mistermix. A lot of these so-called parties aren’t social events at all; they’re corporate-ordered “mandatory fun,” and you don’t get the option of not going. Ours this year was a breakfast, at 7:00 in the fucking morning, 7 miles from the office, consisting of breakfast burritos and rice & beans. There was also a raffle during which about 10 of 100 people got pretty nice prizes and nobody else got so much as a sprig of mistletoe. At least the coffee was drinkable, and we did get paid for the time, so it wasn’t a total loss … but I would much rather have been at my desk getting something done.
@Bill — and I think it’s partly because in this country’s puritanical, bust-your-ass culture, we confuse work with LIFE itself.
I love it when I meet someone and they ask “What do you like to do?” instead of “What do you do for a living?”
There are many countries where “What do you do?” is considered rather a rude question.
I’m actually okay with work socializing that’s literally incorporated into the workday (as in, a lunchtime event). It’s having mandatory work events outside of work hours that seems unfair to me.
We do have large parties outside of work hours about once a year to celebrate the release of a new project, but they’re not mandatory and are definitely more focused on, “Here, have free food and drinks! Would you like to dance?” than on spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.
Dog is My CoPilot
I tend to agree with an early poster – just because I work with these people doesn’t mean I want to party with them (especially on my own time). Bah humbug.