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Christmas Fun… It’s Official

December 18, 2009

The last two working weeks before Christmas herald some hardy perennials. There’s the obligatory Christmas songs piped out of shops and music radio stations, there’s the rush to get everything done before the break and then there’s the office party. Depending on your point of view and/or experience, they’re either great fun, or a form of torture only marginally better than poking out your eyes with a gimlet. Or listening to a Christmas X Factor number one. On a loop.

For reasons I don’t understand, there are companies that insist on their employees attending the party in some attempt to ‘build the team.’ It’s the same thinking that forces the least sporty/aggressive/socially dextrous to attend those adventure paintballing weekends. Then there are companies who severely limit the food and/or alcohol. In this instance, the strength of the world economy lasting longer than a Duracell bunny wouldn’t make a scrap of difference, because that company is just plain mean. But the ultimate meanness is to not have a party at all. I was shocked to hear from a friend just yesterday that her company doesn’t have them. Not even a pub lunch. If you’re lucky enough to have a party, you need to negotiate the minefield, because although it’s a party, it’s still work. You mustn’t get drunk, or make a show of yourself by photocopying your bits, or copping off with the married one you’ve been waiting for all year and you definitely shouldn’t insult the boss or shag them. With that many restrictions in place, little wonder that office parties are powder kegs just waiting to go off, with the same old casualties at the end of the night. It’s as regular as, well, Christmas.

My chequered work pattern means I haven’t been to a lot of them but I’ve attended department lunches, dinners and events. I’ve also been to the full company do, so I can compare the two. I personally find the full on events hard work. I think there’s something strange about this forced bonhomie with people you barely know. It’s not real and I found myself on more than one occasion wishing I were in a pub with friends. Department events, on the other hand, are much more fun. You know everyone, you feel there’s a genuine relationship and you can let loose. I still have contact with people I used to work with long after we parted company work-wise. I think that office parties are fine, if you land the right ones, otherwise, they’re hell on Earth and best avoided, because that’s two to three hours of your life you’ll never see again.

Here’s a little fun for you in the spirit of Christmas. Please complete this sentence: Office Christmas parties are…

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