The staff holiday party

Before:

As I write I am dreading the prospect of spending Thursday evening at the staff holiday party. (And yes, having a job and an organization that can have a party is a privilege in these times.) The holidays are over.  I am done with toasting, drinking, eating, celebrating.  I took my department out for holiday cocktails at the appropriate time: before the holidays.  In December, it was easy to draw on the holiday spirit and have a jolly time with my team.

But now, I’m done.  I dislike our staff parties, which tend to be awkward and rambling.  As a member of the senior management team, I feel pressured to interact with a wide variety of staff, forcing conversation where there is none to be had.  I don’t like large parties or people I don’t know well.  I’m excellent at being social when I want to be social.  But not at the staff holiday party.  Bah, humbug.

After:

Oh, dear.  I sort of had fun.  I was prepared to come home and write the second half of this snarky post, but now I can’t snark.

I did make the effort to have a conversation with the IT guy in whom I have no confidence and some other person whose name I can never remember.  I did it early in the party and then felt liberated to only talk to people I like.

It turns out that our 20-odd year old operations manager is a hilariously absurd MC who turned a raffle drawing into crying-laughing stand-up routine.  I was fascinated by the little kids of colleagues who not only look like their moms, but sport matching haircuts.  And my guilt at not bringing a dessert was assuaged by the crazy sugar mountain on the dessert table.

I left just as the evening was getting appropriately weird in the way that a staff holiday party should.  A rather quiet colleague started forcing people to dance with him.  And no one felt they could refuse.

If I’d stayed another hour, there might have been more to report.

How was yours?

8 responses to “The staff holiday party”

  1. lane says:

    sadly the school of visual arts had to cancel this year due to bugetary concers.

    but i really identify with this. when i worked for the school full time i hated that party. and now i go back as a faculty member and i’ve learned to enjoy it. weird, it’s like growing older you just accept that somethings are humiliating (dancing with the IT guy) but if drunk enough can actually be fun.

    sounds like a great night.

    congratulations!

  2. Dave says:

    We had a holiday lunch at a nice-ish restaurant rather than the usual catered evening party, due to the tough times. I over-ate and was fairly useless the rest of the day, but I was far from the only person in that predicament. Having more than one drink around cow-orkers makes me nervous, so this year’s austerity might have been for the best.

  3. lane says:

    yeah it also has to do with your attachment to your workplace. i can’t see you dave ever crossing this border because your not committed to that job yet.

    someday however . . .

    holiday office stupidity awaits . . .

  4. Dave says:

    The thing is, my office is really small and people have been there for years, so it starts to feel like a weird surrogate family, but a family that only hangs out during office hours and has some fairly strong boundaries around what’s shared from outside-of-work life. We do have fun when we have full-scale parties with champagne and wine and stuff, but then there’s the day-after wondering about whether everything you did was appropriate.

  5. lane says:

    yeah sure, what makes SVA fun is that it’s really big, so people don’t see each other that often. that makes the day after nervousness more bearable i suppose.

  6. It’s the first year I’ve had the opportunity to go to a holiday party, and it wasn’t mine. it was interesting to go as the significant other of a guy who genuinely loves the company he works for. It was funny to watch him stand at his chair and look in the crowd for people he knows. Not too many of his immediate co-workers showed up, but he enjoyed himself anyway.

    We danced a few slow dances and then left before I started forcing him out onto the dance floor and he started slumping in his chair, looking forlornly at me alone on the dance floor. Because we chose to leave before the dancing became less than novel, the entire experience was pleasant for us.

  7. lane says:

    hey! Kate’s back.

  8. Yeah. Toby’s happiness is more important than reading websites, but I’m slowly returning to my old haunts. I used to be on the Internet for hours every day before his birth, but my priorities shifted dramatically. As well they should.