All I Want for Christmas Is Fewer Office Parties

5 Dec

We’re less than one week into December and my calendar is already chock full of miserable holiday parties.

I don’t mean regular holiday parties. Those can be kind of nice when I’m able to kick the hermit in me and focus on good ol’ holiday cheer wine. I mean work parties. 

I’m sorry: work “parties”.

I’m quite certain that I have more interaction with other humans per diem in December than the rest of the other months combined. Unfortunately, most of those interactions are the result of mandatory work fun. 

As many of you know, I harbor a deep disdain for a variety of workplace traditions. Maybe all of them, actually. I hate the obligatory signing of a non-descript birthday card that some poor, abused office worker had to spend their lunch hurriedly retrieving and wondering if they would be able to be reimbursed for it. I hate the staff meetings where we act like the stale chips we found in the office closet will make our review of redundant agenda items more palatable. And above all, my beautiful butterflies, I hate mandatory work fun.

You know: mandatory work fun. It’s when your boss thinks it will help with “teambuilding” if you can all go do something fun outside the office together. Or worse: when your boss thinks it will help if you can do something fun inside the office together.

I have found this to be absolutely never true. Not once in my entire work experience have I been willing to pitch in more to lend Steve a hand with any of his tasks because I learned to respect and understand him more fully as a result of the way he handles himself after three tequila shots. I know it’s hard to believe but it’s just never happened for Steve and me that way.

Steve, just two tequilas in.

Steve, just two tequilas in.

That’s, of course, if Steve can even bring himself to drink in the first place. Mandatory work fun, in my experience, has meant happy hours where no one can actually drink because your boss is right there. And they’re usually talking about something horrible. Last Christmas, for example, my boss was actually doling out task items from the head of the table after pretending we were there for festivities; people had to get out notebooks or write on cocktail napkins. The Christmas before I distinctly recall a very vivid regaling by my boss of a stomach bug they got while traveling and the flurry of details that followed their plane ride back to the States.

I believe it wrapped up at about the same time our food arrived.

To add insult to injury, your boss won’t go where the office wants to go. In fact, they won’t even ask. They’ll just pick a place that matches their sentiments, which, as a rule, are almost never on par with everyone else’s sentiments. It will be a place where you can’t quite get comfortable with anything on the menu and even if you just do drinks you’ll be dishing out twice as much per beer as you would at your favorite joint down the street. Deep down, you’ll wonder if your boss will let the light of holiday joy infect their heart with the gift of giving by picking up the tab for the group or doing a round on them.

They won’t.

I’m barely a week into December and my planner is so rampant with mandatory work fun that even a frugal selection and a free parking spot each time will munch away a decent portion of my paycheck. Heck, my calendar is so rampant with required fake festivities that I can’t even get the time off I need for real festivities. Honest to all holy things the other day I was denied a day off the week of Christmas because I was told I have to be at work celebrating it with work folk.

For now, at least, I’m trying to find solace in the fact that there have not yet been plans announced for secret Santa-ing: my least favorite Christmas workplace experience. Perhaps this year I can be spared the terrible task of pretending to know someone well enough to purchase something they won’t regift while also not spending so much they think I make more than them or so little that they think I’m a cheapskate.

Why can’t we all just agree to keep the good parts about December in the office (the time off) and get rid of the bad parts about December in the office (everything else)?

Maybe unions should focus on these sorts of things. After all, these are the items that make a big difference in my daily life. Do you have any idea how much I would pay for a membership to a group that protects me from awkward office Secret Santas, terrible mandatory happy hours and required work festivities that override actual real non-work festivities? A lot. I would pay a lot. At least as much as the tab for my cheap beer and appetizers at mandatory work fun outings.

Unfortunately I’m not sure anti-work-festivities unions exist. At least, not yet.

It’s Christmastime, after all, and I do have a list to write.

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23 Responses to “All I Want for Christmas Is Fewer Office Parties”

  1. ElizaThinksAllowed December 5, 2013 at 2:23 am #

    I relate, I really do. But I have to admit, I don’t miss the mandatory activities at all.

    Like

    • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Yeah I never miss any of it. Not once have I been sore that a workplace overlooked a birthday or forced socialization or holiday celebration of any kind. Let’s just not and say we did is my preferred policy.

      Like

  2. Ice_Badger December 5, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    Thank fully our work Christmas “do” is at the weekend, not in work time, so I don’t have to go…I have chosen to go and dance in the middle of Stonehenge with Druids instead…it sounds much more seasonally appropriate…well more fun any way!

    Like

    • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      I would LOVE if it was optional. Let’s do that. Can you tell my workplace that we should do that? 😉

      Like

      • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

        were? was? were.

        Like

      • Ice_Badger December 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

        🙂 I’ll write to them and tell then that is how it should be 😉

        Like

  3. lipstickandplaydates December 5, 2013 at 5:00 am #

    The only thing worse than the office party are client dinners. Believe me, I’ve suffered through many.

    Like

    • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

      Ugh, yes. Yes. Kudos to you for your steadfastness in attending them.

      Like

  4. JustJohn December 5, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    omg i despise mandatory fun. one with my unit this weekend and one with my weekday job on tue. the unit graciously decided on civ clothes but had to ruin by specifying “no jeans” for business casual. in austin. in texas. great. and no booze AT ALL to dull the pain of either party…

    Like

    • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

      no booze to dull the pain is haaaaard. I hear you.

      Like

  5. ginjuh December 5, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    All of this.

    Like

    • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      Thanks for the support 😉

      Like

  6. Sarah T. December 5, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    This year we don’t even get the details for the holiday party beforehand. There is a scavenger hunt with clues. Maybe I’m a party pooper, but I don’t think making your staff work to find out what they are supposed to do is very fun.

    Please tell me you’ll be in the ‘burg for a fun holiday party and I can regale you with the tale of how this scavenger hunt/holiday “party” goes down in person.

    Like

    • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      PARTY POOPER!

      I’d prefer the hunt if it meant free things and actual enjoyment instead of awkward “sit here, pay for this, don’t think about what a waste of time this is, and look festive”

      And yes I’m coming 🙂 Good luck!

      Like

  7. Mrs. Meegs: House of Farts December 5, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    This was hilarious to read and painstakingly familiar. I haven’t been forced by my boss to have fun, but this brings me back to when I used to worked nights at a printing factory years ago. Our boss handed out gift certificates for free turkeys on Thanksgiving and acted like it was manna from God. Then he made us work on Thanksgiving.

    Like

    • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

      This is my favorite comment so far. Not just because that story is so terribly unfortunate, but because your blog is called House of Farts and your dog is adorable.

      Like

  8. silkpurseproductions December 7, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    You should play the politically correct card. The politically correct card bans all celebration of anything Christmas in the workplace. No decorations, no Christmas parties, no secret Santa and above all else no uttering of the word “Christmas”. People say things like, “Seasons Greetings”. I know of a lot of offices that have gone this route. Most of them are now complaining about being ripped off for their Christmas at work.

    Like

    • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      This has actually been suggested, as my manager cannot force me to celebrate anything, including winter. 😉

      Like

  9. mid-life crisis December 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    You must have the other half of the amulet I carry around. I have a mandatory party tomorrow that I’m dreading. My new boss took us newbies out for lunch the other day, and brought along his side-kick. They spent the entire lunch talking to each other about the football game on the weekend – never even attempted to engage us.

    Happy forced holidays to you, my friend!

    Like

    • Jackie December 11, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      Oh yes, I love it when management invites friends along to work engagements and puts them on their tab. Classy!

      Like

  10. kitchenmudge December 9, 2013 at 12:38 am #

    Another example of how business jargon has murdered language. When the boss calls something “mandatory”, shouldn’t it go without saying that you get paid for the time spent on it?

    You poor salaried folks.

    Like

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