>Holiday parties

>One of the biggest thankless jobs in the world has to be planning the office Christmas party. If you have any doubt, just catch up on last week’s hiliarious one-hour The Office episode where we had not one but two competing holiday parties. (Speaking of The Office, I about died when Michael kept replaying the song sample instead of buying the whole song when he was pouting over Carol dumping him….classic!)

I’ve been to more than my fair share of office holiday parties over the years and they’ve all been intereting. Last year, I went to one and watched a co-worker wear out a path from her table to the bar, getting progessively drunker and throwing herself at one of the sales guys all evening. That started the office gossip going for weeks and it only got juicer when she hooked up with soemeone else in the company and first guy found he was dumped when he saw them holding hands in the break room. (You can’t make up this kind of drama and have it be believable).

I think one thing that leads to my feeling a bit awkward at office holiday parties is I’ve got this weird history of changing jobs in late November or early December. So, you go to the office party not knowing anyone and having to ask things like what is the accepted or expected dress code for the party. It’s time like this when I’m thankful I’m a guy because if you overdress with a tie and sportcoat, those are easily removed and its socially acceptable. Ladies, with all your fashion choices, I feel for you. The first two years I worked at iPIX, we had a really formal holiday party that you dressed to the nines for. My first year there, I was still new and didn’t invite a date nor did I wrangle one the second year. Part of the thing with taking a date is that I don’t want it to be our first or second date, if possible. It’s not really fair to anyone.

But the third year, I’d met someone, we’d gone out a few times and I’d asked her to the holiday party. I’d asked her early–something like October, I think–and was pretty happy she’d agreed to go. Only to have that big, huge formal party cancelled and instead we had one at the actual office. So, that was strike one against the party for me. Come on, I had a date, I complained to co-workers who all mocked me and doubted the validity of my story.

Instead, we had a more subdued holiday party because, well, the company was on rough ground financially. Couldn’t be out spending a zillion dollars for an office party, though the office in California I think had a pretty lavish affair (they always seemed to be doing that…we had one office unity building day where we got to go bowling and they got to go jet-skiing. Not that I’m bitter or jealous still..no, not at all). Anyway, it was announced we’d have a decorate your office contest and the dreaded dirty Santa exchange.

I threw myself wholeheartedly into the decorating the office thing. First prize was a gift card from Wal-Mart in a good amount. So, I hung up lights, brought in a Christmas tree and did some other things to make my office festive. The main problem here was I started this before Thanksgiving, thus tipping off all my co-workers as to my master plan and letting them see the competition as it were. So, when a guy in sales brought in a ringer (his wife) and set up a massive display in his area the day of the judging, I knew all hope was lost. I didn’t even get an honorable mention, part of which I blame on the fact that everyone got to see my office decorated a full two weeks or so and get used to the insanity. So, strike two.

Then, we got to the dirty Santa. We were all told to find a unique, funny gift to bring in for the exchange. So, I went out, found something and put a modicrum of thought into it. I also made sure to follow the rules of how the spending cap–both the entry and do not go beyond this point levels.

Well, the party started and they invited back some former co-workers who had been laid off. Which you know was nice and all, but it seemed a bit awkward at first. Some of them were still looking for jobs and it was the holidays. But hey–look, we’ve got free cookies for you!

So, it came to start and we drew numbers. When it came time for my turn, I looked around and decided to open a gift. I picked one and proceeded to open.

Now let me back up and say part of the fun of dirty Santa is that you want something poeple are going to want to steal. Or at least trade out. Becuase otherwise you’re just stuck and get to miss half the hilarity. Esp. if you get a crappy gift early on.

And let me tell you, I got a crappy gift early on. I opened up the paper to find…..wait for it..a Richard Simmons work-out LP. Yes, I am not kidding. I got a Richard Simmons album on vinyl. I hadn’t owned a vinyl record player for years and…..again..it was Richard Simmons. I looked at it and was stunned. Surely this was some horrible joke and something good was inside. Nope, it was the actual album. As I look up, wondering who would do such a thing one of the co-workers who got laid off but had come to the party said, “I was cleaning out my closests and found that…I was going to get rid of it but decided to use it for the dirty Santa instead. Isn’t it hiliarious?”

Oh sure, it’s hilarious….in the look at what I bought once and am giving to Goodwill way. Not that “let’s give it to an unsuspecting former co-worker and deny him the chance to enjoy the hiliarity that is dirty Santa.”

“That sucks,” said a buddy next to me.

“I may as well go back to my office cause this game is over for me,” I replied.

And people wonder why I am not a big fan of the dirty Santa game.

Though, I do recall I took the record home and was telling the woman who had been my date about it. She thought it was funny and said she had a dirty Santa party to go to and wondered if I’d give her the album. It’d be funny to see the look on someone’s face as they opened it…before she gave them the real dirty Santa item. So, I gave it to her and scored a few points there….so maybe it didn’t all turn out that bad, after all.

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