Kevin and I drag ourselves to the office party.
Kevin looks for his coat and tails to wear for the office Christmas Party. He doesn't need to look far. His luxurious fluffy coat and bouffant tail makes him good arm candy at any event.
With the holiday season upon us, stores begin to showcase evening wear for that once-a-year party where you can prove that you own clothes in other fabrics than denim or corduroy. It is also the party where you have the opportunity to glimpse into your co-workers personal lives - to see them with their significant other or observe them being unusually candid when speaking with you. At this iconic office affair, there is the anxiousness that for once your teammates can see the "real" you and they will parade about you with fresh eyes. The "real-ity" - most co-workers will sit at dinner tables with their work peeps - or with those they feel most comfortable talking to. Others will have to awkwardly engage in conversation with "that guy" who works on the other side of the office as they are late to the party and all the other tables have been filled. Like playing musical chairs - the last one standing gets booted from game.
After the second glass of free wine, as you drank the first one quickly to avoid looking bored, lips begin to loosen and the room gets louder. Proceeding the speeches and entertainment, the "Yawn, I am soo tired, I think it is time to go" vanish into the night not willing to take a part in the stories whispered in the staff kitchen on Monday morning.
The third, fourth, and fifth glass of free wine are poured. The bar is now serving shots. The party can be heard on the street by passing pedestrians giggling at the knowledge of what kind of day tomorrow will bring for the merrymakers. Closet smokers open the doors of inhibition and light-up for all to see. Lines form at the washrooms and necklines plunge even further - both for the suit shirt and the strapless dress. Pictures from the wee hours of the office party resemble childhood photos where we appear kooky dressed-up in our parents fancy clothes. Our make-up smudged around our face as our small hands struggled with the lipstick tube. Several people are now half-in-the-bag.
Men come alive with the sound of music. They no longer have two left feet, but the dance moves of Jagger. Their one dance move makes them the Prince of the Ball and women their Cinderella. As energy fades and the liquor runs dry, those left hail cabs or find hotel rooms for the night.
Over 30 office Christmas Parties I have attended, I have been everything from the Yawner to the Cinderella. I don't believe in regrets - just misguided decisions, so I do not deny my actions. However, I have fond memories of meeting people with whom I worked and had never talked to. If I hadn't been seated across the dinner table from them at the Christmas Party I wouldn't have known they preferred Cyndi Lauper to Metallica. Or I wouldn't have met a co-worker's significant other in the washroom line-up. Or wouldn't have met the account manager if I had not dropped my bun on their foot in the buffet line. There should be more times that don't include copious amounts of alcohol or dress code where we are all free to be comfortable with our co-workers. We should have this relaxed environment in our everyday work and we should endeavour to make our teams want to share some morsel of their lives with us. It is how we learn who they are and how they can work better.
Kevin looks handsome as usual. This year I go to the Christmas Party with no expectations and no curfew. We will see where the evening takes us and who we will meet. Hopefully, no one is allergic to cats.
Fiona Warren - 17 years experience with large high-profile projects and teams.