Work holiday parties. Amirite?
So, last time this year I had just gotten my feet wet in the ponds of the corporate jungle. (Are there ponds in jungles? I digress.) I was new to my department and I was still hourly so I could get out of quite a few obligatory holiday party invitations. Some happened at night and I couldn’t work overtime, some happened during the day but I only had so many hours to complete a specific amount of work, and so on and so forth until I wiggled my way out of every possible outing.
This year, the game has changed.
I’m salary now, and my feet are no longer wet. I’m fully submerged and drowning in the awkwardness of obligatory holiday parties. Office creatures love food. They adore it – they are almost entirely sustained on meetings, lunches, coffee breaks, communal candy bowls, and impromptu snack suggestions. So naturally, they take kindly to gatherings of any sort that are wrought with food.
Better yet: food that can be written off as a business expense.
I’ve been invited to no less than eight holiday gatherings so far and it isn’t even the week of Christmas. I’ve been unable to get out of four of them. I have a 50% dodge rate, which in the corporate forest, is pretty good odds.
There are creatures who thrive on the suggestion of simultaneous mingling and food chomping. “Networking”, they call it. I’m not really into it. I don’t really want people to know who I am or what I do. In my experience, the more people who know you and your position, the more people call on you to do things. Since I’m an assistant to a high-level executive, I don’t leave my corporate cave so that people don’t ask me for an appointment or try to pick my brain for how to best navigate difficult subjects in a meeting. There’s nothing relaxing or festive about being harassed about why I won’t put someone on her calendar just because we both got to the cookie plate at the same time.
I’ve been looking for a sweater with croissant-wrapped mini wieners all over it so I can hover by the buffet table unnoticed. Turns out you can’t buy everything on Amazon.
And listen – crossaint-wrapped mini wieners are not cheap. While corporate is usually all right with expensing one or two major functions, they aren’t about to foot the bill for every little get-together. There’s your floor, your department, your building, your unit, and your actual company party to all worry about. That’s before your actual friends at work decide to throw get-togethers. Each one has a different clothing policy: wear an ugly sweater, don’t wear an ugly sweater, pay 5 dollars to wear jeans, bring a can of food for a homeless shelter and sport a wacky hat. Each one has a different gifting policy: white elephant, traditional gift exchange, everyone donate to charity instead, or sort it out amongst yourselves and cringe when the boss’s gift isn’t well-received.
By the time I’ve filed all the details for each gathering and burned a fresh stack of cash to attend them, I’m actually wishing I could just do my regular work and be left alone. Call me an office Grinch, but there’s only so many times I can make jokes about human resources people or whatever happened at the holiday party three years ago (that I wasn’t even at, by the way).
Maybe that’s their plan. Maybe this has all already been thought out. Since people tend to shut down once the month of December hits, companies encourage frequent holiday party planning so that we’re coaxed back into the idea of putting in a solid 8 hours. In fact, we’re so thankful that we don’t have to have our day interrupted by fruit cake and bad potlucks that we almost smile while we work. It’s brilliant! Twisted, but brilliant.
Touché, corporate. Touché. ♣♣