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December 22, 2009

Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays: Office holiday parties

office parties Back when I worked at the college newspaper, we would have occasional parties after the work was finished for the night. We'd sneak a keg into the office, set up some beer pong and such. I always kept my head down at work and didn't goof off. But I went all-out for these parties.

I would show up wearing a kimono, or in a farmer's hat with a jug of moonshine. Everybody got a kick out of it. I don't think everybody would get a kick out of it if I did that at a Baltimore Sun holiday party. Either way, it's not an option -- there isn't an official Baltimore Sun holiday party.

In today's column (and, I think, one of his best so far), Owl Meat discusses the horrible, hazardous office holiday party. Here goes:

Nothing good can come from an office Christmas party.

With alcohol, it's a tinderbox of professional ruination. Without liquid spirits, it's a fluorescent prison of bad sweaters and forced cheer. Ho ho, no no. ...

Perhaps it's from watching "Mad Men," but I imagine a time when office Christmas parties were riotous blowouts of unleashed American angst and good-natured release of repressed urges. Back when the three martini lunch was a sign of success rather than addiction.

The dry Christmas party at the office is the worst. Throw in Secret Santa and the torment deepens. Sometimes I think these parties are all for the office party lady. You know her. She collects money for birthdays, showers, and all sorts of personal events that don't belong at work. She has the most awesome Christmas sweater ever, a gnarly philodendron begging for death, and a jar of honey mustard pretzel nuggets on her desk. She lives for the office party ... and cake. Cake cake cake.

The other party option is off-site at a bar or restaurant. This is better because at least you are out of the office. People tend to let their guard down at these parties and that's when trouble starts. Get drunk at an office party and you will never live it down.

Potential hazards: The inappropriate sexual advance, telling your boss what you really think, spilling personal info, or even a crazy dance.

office holiday partyObviously it depends upon where and with whom you work. If you work in a stiff corporate environment, the "holiday" party is a mine field of sugar cookies and corporate manners. The wise person sips half a drink and begs off early due to some bogus family obligation. That's not much of a party, but at least you won't get snickered at on Monday.

What's worse than your office party? Your significant other's office party. Oh, the horror. Being a guest at someone else's office party is less fun than watching Olympic curling or cleaning your bathroom with a Q-Tip.

A few years ago at an office party, an amateur Cosmo-naut insisted with slurry enthusiasm that I simply must come to his house to make kumquat preserves. Uh, sure, e-mail about it next week. Last year, a senior researcher lashed out at her husband after one too many Manhattans – about their cat. More amusing is the non-drinker who stumbles upon the frozen cocktail – the Piña Calamity. Wind up Poindexter and watch him go. One minute he's the nerdy statistician and the next he's a ... Girl Drink Drunk.

Was there ever a time when holding mistletoe above a woman's head gave you license to mouth-mount her? Perhaps in a Jane Austen novel, but nowadays it looks more like sexual assault. Expect a sit-down with HR if you try this, Mr. Darcy.

I don't remember behaving badly at an office party and I'll leave it at that. So have you witnessed any amusing or horrifying work holiday parties? Come on, spill it. Extra points if any sort of nog is involved.

(Getty Images)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 7:38 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Owl Meat's Tipsy Tuesdays


"I would show up wearing a kimono, or in a farmer's hat with a jug of moonshine. Everybody got a kick out of it. I don't think everybody would get a kick out of it if I did that at a Baltimore Sun holiday party. Either way, it's not an option -- "

you're working in the wrong dept. my friend. you'd fit right in on the 3rd floor.

and did OMG just link to a Kids in the Hall skit? Fantastic.

Sadly, Christmas parties are a thing of the past. This year, we all went to a pizza place and everyone had to pay. No free stuff or nuthin!

Sam, I think you've appeared in some pretty interesting attire at The Sun.

Laura Lee -- Ahh, my thinking cap! Yes, that hat was on my desk for quite some time after the wedding shower.

my company has had some ragers, but we typically behave at the holiday party. two years ago, though, someone fell off a bar stool at the official post-party gathering at kitty o'shea's in arlington. no one minded though, someone handed her a beer to take her mind off her embarrasment.

Allan, you have no idea how happy it made me to link to the Kids in the Hall skit. It's a great one.

I work for a major corporation in the area - we had no Christmas party at all...not even a lame-o potluck. I drive by Valley Mansion on Cranbrook and it has been packed most of the week so someone is having parties.

The most interesting holiday affairs I attended were when I worked at APG's Edgewood Arsenal. People would only get mildly drunk though, still there would be women sitting on their male co-workers laps and crazy women doing the macarena. Made it hard to take those people seriously the rest of the year.

We had a company party at the now defunct Club X. I am proud to say i was not the only person to trip down the oddly spaced three stairs.
Here's a trick for civilians: order a drink you hate. You're sociable, no one will think the less of you for "not having any holiday spirit" read: drinking, and more importantly, you're ready to rock for the party with your work friends after wards.

Most memorable work party: Watching one of the senior partners forget she had legs. She semi melted onto the floor like Gumby. We in our ( more then a few drinks in) disbelief just sort of stared, while two chivalrous gentlemen helped her back into her seat.

Seems like the only thing worse than a Christmas party is no Christmas party.

It seems like we are becoming a lot less fun as a nation. Or maybe the unfun people are killing our fun. I don't know but I have a feeling that this isn't the case in other countries. Anybody else have any experience overseas with this sort of thing?

My company's ginormous, 1300-people-expected GALA was to have been this past Saturday night at a big hotel Downtown.
*SIGH* stupid snow. >:-(

Here's a trick for civilians: order a drink you hate

Good trick. I did that a long time ago. I hated Scotch, but it backfired. I started to like Scotch. And now ... I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly...

It's somewhere in my genetic code that i love scotch. If failing in that you like everything, pick a drink you've been sick on. An Absolute Lemon Martini will steer me clear everything time. Or potcheen. ~shudder~

I just retched at the idea of Absolut Lemon. blech.

I'm gonna order a Chocolate Choo-Choo at the next MS shindig/social.

pass me a bailey's with generous douse of lemon juice, please

Woo woo, Chocolate Choo Choo.

I recommend a Southern Comfort and sloe gin on the rocks. That's about as disgusting as I can think of.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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