So here are my top tips for maximising the pleasure potential of the party season:
Before the Event
- Do not eat. If you fill up on a proper lunch you are not going to get the benefit of all the free food on offer later and it'll take you far longer to get smashed. Partying on an empty stomach is the value for money choice!
- Tart yourself up. This is the only time of year when it is acceptable to wear glitter, tinsel, baubles, antlers, novelty ties or even fur in public. If you turn up in an understated little black dress or suit no one will notice you and you'll look like you just couldn't make the effort. Presentation matters!
The Event Itself
- Consume as much of the buffet as possible and put some in your handbag or pockets for later. Free food must always be fully appreciated. It means a lot to your host.
- Ditto drink, if free. If you have to buy your own then slightly different rules apply - if you have to buy drinks from a bar then always put them on the company tab. If there isn't one claim there is and try to put them on it anyway. If it's a bring a bottle affair you can always try to upgrade your bargain bin purchase by cunningly switching your humble offering with a more expensive wine. The true pro will manage to blag several bottles of quality grog and stash them in their tights/the toilet cistern/the mop bucket thereby ensuring hours of drinking pleasure to come when everyone else is reduced to drinking the Liebfraumilch.
- Dance like a maniac. No one likes a wallflower.
- Sing too.
- Take the opportunity to tell your colleagues how you really feel. Many experts will insist this is bad etiquette and will lead to awkwardness in the office come Monday morning, but much depends on how much Liebfraumilch your co-workers have also managed to put away.
- Keep conversation lively. Avoid dull topics like work, families, hobbies etc and stick to subjects which everyone can join in with like religion, politics, sex toys, animal testing and medical problems.
- Indulge your romantic side. If you've spent months flirting over the photocopier or bending over to retrieve paperclips you've "accidentally" dropped near the desk of that special co-worker you'd love to get to know better then now is your opportunity to fan the spark to a flame. The combination of mistletoe and alcohol is one which has swept aside inhibitions and undergarments since the days of the Druids, so don't be afraid to follow in the footsteps of this fine festive tradition. Grab a sprig and get smooching. Again, many experts will insist this is bad etiquette and will lead to awkwardness in the office come Monday morning, but many experts are terribly dull and spend their parties sipping mineral water, talking earnestly about current affairs and never get molested in a swivel chair.
After the Event
- Post apologies on Twitter/Facebook/MySpace. Social networking saves a great deal of phonecalls or notecards.
- Drink plenty of water.