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a very corporate holiday celebration October 31, 2008

Posted by That Guy in A Very Corporate Something.

Holiday celebrations at the office are always cause for disappointment. It has to be inoffensive. It has to be all-inclusive. It has to be fun (for certain values of “fun”). And it has to be accessible to everyone, even people who work weird shifts.

So what are the options? Really?

  1. In the big meeting room: These are probably the worst. Everyone crams into a room that’s too small and probably too warm (though occasionally too cold). Departments socialize with each other — sales with sales, marketing with marketing, IT with IT, and management with management — and don’t mingle, which is the intent of the gathering. There’s catered food which is usually decent, but the lines are often too long and are always poorly-organized — no one knows which way to go in and which way to go out. Then you’re subjected to an address from the Big Boss, a lame photo or video presentation, and then the obligatory Q&A about how the company is doing and what’s next. If you’re very… ahem… lucky, there’ll be a talent show, too.
  2. In the office: Think of a pub crawl. Think of everything that sucks about a pub crawl. Then take away the alcohol. Yeah, that’s exactly what it’s like. Each department makes a token effort to decorate their room/area/cubicle block with some sort of pleasantly-festive accoutrements, and most of them put out a dish or two of food. Some departments will do pretty good meals, but for the most part it’s chips, cheese, and store-bought cookies. You’re still expected to walk around and visit every stop, though.
  3. Off-site: Off-site gatherings are a blessing and a curse. You can get out of going if you have kids — “I couldn’t get a babysitter” is the perfect excuse — but you’re missing out on free food, free or cheap drinks, and a night with… um… people you spend all day with. But on the plus side, you get to see your co-workers let their hair down…
    • They think anything goes because they’re not at work, so they’ll say things they wouldn’t normally dream of saying. Sometimes about you.
    • They drink too much and act crazy, and you can get pictures.
    • Single employees benefit from said drinking, and often celebrate later with a mutually-regretted sexual experience that, if you’re lucky, you get to hear about from both parties so you can equally ridicule both of them behind their backs.
    • Management tries to act like they’re part of the gang and may let slip things you can use later — information about trouble in the industry, company money woes, and the like. They end up acting extra-asinine anyway, which is a great time to be had by all.

    There’s just one problem: the first rule of the off-site party is that you don’t talk about the off-site party. You don’t talk about the drinking, or the buffoonery, or — especially this part — how good or how bad your co-workers looked in their evening finery. Like I said, a blessing and a curse.

No work party is ever all-inclusive, entirely-fun, or even-close-to-fun. If you really want to have a good holiday celebration, do it with your friends and maybe invite someone from work. But seriously, you spend eight hours a day with these people; how can you possibly find anything new or interesting to talk about that you haven’t already talked about while you were wasting time at the office?


I’d like to do a Christmas post later in the year. Someone remind me as we get closer.



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