Here’s a joke that should be popular this time of year: What do you call an office Christmas party where there’s no alcohol?
Not worth going to.
But while alcohol might be the great “social lubricant,” Harvey Weinstein is apparently why the employees at Vox—as Taylor Swift would say—“can’t have nice things.”
The liberal media company recently sent out a memo letting its staff know that “this year, at the request of many of you, we will ramp up the food and cut down on the drinks. There will be more passed hors d’oeuvres to keep everyone well-fed. And instead of an open bar, each attendee will receive two drink tickets with which they can get alcoholic drinks if they choose. After that only non-alcoholic drinks will be available.
“We recognize that even though alcohol isn’t always the reason for unprofessional behavior,” the memo went on, “creating an environment that encourages overconsumption certainly contributes to it. We hope that you all appreciate the spirit of this change and we look forward to celebrating with you!”
First of all, I bet the “many of you” who requested restricted alcohol number about two, and were probably the accountants trying to balance the books after the company was forced to hire a law firm to investigate internal sexual harassment allegations.
Second of all, why does Vox employ a bunch of lightweights who turn into maniacal sexual predators the moment more than six ounces of Barefoot prosecco enters their systems?
Thirdly, what a bunch of hypocritical balderdash! The Washington Examiner’s Becket Adams did a smashing job of calling out Vox for repeatedly bashing the “The Pence Rule” (in which the vice president refuses to be alone with any woman who’s not his wife) only to turn around and enact a puritan policy itself. “When you place them side by side, Vox’s two-drink rule is the same damn thing as the Pence Rule,” Smith notes.
And fourthly, it should be, “Each attendee will receive two drink tickets with which he or she can get alcoholic drinks…” Not that good writing has ever been a Vox specialty.
Oh well. Vox’s prohibition is punishment for its employees who produce such consequential headlines as “Obama has 4 of Twitter’s top 2017 tweets. Trump has none.” Nonetheless, if you find yourself getting ready for the most awkward and entertaining rite of passage in corporate America, don’t be like Vox (a good rule of thumb for life in general). Do these things instead:
I’ve been to my fair share of workplace bashes, and as the Christmas party in “The Office” clearly shows, alcohol is essential. I work from home now, and I always have alcohol at my get-togethers. An office party without booze simply isn’t a party; it’s a staff meeting where there happens to be potluck casserole. A ban on booze would only compound the awkwardness you experience in the break room every day, because what would you have to blame for not remembering that guy from accounting’s name?
You see your coworkers every day buttoned-up and straight-laced. The office Christmas party is your chance to see them let loose* and find out who they really are. It’s the time to talk to the person you don’t know, hear about the weird and fascinating hobbies of the guy three cubicles over, and find out finally if Wendell’s hair is a wig. Take advantage of this rare and splendorous occasion to answer all the questions about the company you’ve been too shy to ask about when you—and everyone else—is sober.
*We’re assuming here you’re a responsible, mature adult, knowledgeable of your limits and capable of heeding them. If you’re a hedonistic barbarian with no self-control, go work at Vox.
Win at Secret Santa
A guy at an office party once gave me a slightly used s’mores maker his daughter didn’t want any more as a Secret Santa gift. The box was open and it was missing pieces. Also what was I supposed to do with a s’mores maker? Don’t be like that guy. Plan your Secret Santa gift ahead of time, like on your way to work, and give your person something useful, like alcohol.
You can never go wrong with a moderately priced bottle of wine as a Secret Santa present. It’s perfect because it’s easy to prove you adhered to the price point of ~$20 or whatever, and everyone likes wine or knows someone who is a wine-o. Wine is also easily re-gifted if you inadvertently give it to a teetotaler, making it a win-win (or is it a “wine-wine”?). Best of all, if things are really dragging, you don’t have to wait until you get home to open the bottle.
Wear a real ugly sweater
By “real” I mean authentic. Go to Goodwill and buy the most repulsive piece of knitted grandmothership you can find. It should be big and bulky and frumpy and comfortable; it should be tacky; it should be a good conversation-starter; it should make a jingly sound from the bells festooned all over it; it should emit a musty smell; it should be completely unflattering; and it should be all you need to repel any would-be sexual harassers.
Play only the oldies
For whatever reason, the only Christmas songs worth listening to all came into being between circa 1954 and 1961, starting with Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” and ending with Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song.” I don’t know what it was about this time period, but they churned out some timeless classics. The rest of the Christmas songs played in stores and on the radio are bunk.
Stick to the classics—Elvis’s “Blue Christmas” and anything by Frank, Bing, or Dean are acceptable. Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” must absolutely be played every quarter hour without question. An exception to the 50s and 60s rule may be made for “Feliz Navidad,” which you should play on loop if you’d like the party to end.
Bring bite-sized finger foods
This suggestion is actually in earnest. The only thing Vox got right in its condescending nanny memo was the line about hors d’oeuvres. How many office parties involving the dangerous balance of heavy food on a wafer-thin plate in one hand and the cutting of said food with plastic utensils while trying to juggle a cup of cranberry punch and a fork and a knife and a napkin in the other while standing and being sociable do we have to endure before someone enforces a bite-sized-food-only rule?
What’s more, the smell of crockpot leftovers are known to linger in the office for days, serving as a reminder not only of how unappetizing crockpot leftovers are, but how awful a word “crockpot” is. Best to have edibles that are manageable and easy to consume, or at least easy to dispose of.
Remember, kids, “the holidays” are a time to be safe, unwind, have fun, and spread cheer. To help, the Daily Mail just published, “The 8 hangover cures that REALLY work—just in time for office Christmas party season,” reminding us that sometimes the worst part about Christmas office parties is remembering them.
Teresa Mull is a writer living in Teton Valley, Idaho.
Note: This piece originally referred to the Washington Examiner writer Becket Adams as Becket Smith. The error has been corrected.