Posted in Just For Fun
December 8, 2015

When Parties Were Parties and the Lampshades Were Scared

Ed from accounting is my Secret Santa this year. He doesn't do office potlucks.
Ed from accounting is my Secret Santa this year. He doesn’t do office potlucks.

By Alexa Day

Choosing the writer’s life, for me, has meant swearing off the so-called normal job. For the most part, I don’t miss normal work. I haven’t had to complete a self-evaluation in many years. Corporate HR and I don’t really know each other.

On the other hand, I don’t get seasonal bonuses or paid vacations, but to hear other people tell it, normal job perks like that are going the way of the triceratops, right behind that watch you’re supposed to get at retirement.

But what about the annual holiday party? Is anyone still having those?

I’m not talking about the modern holiday party. I’ve been to the office potluck, where we employees supply the food and drink, our supervisors help themselves while contributing nothing, and we all have to be finished during our allotted lunch time. You can forget about dancing and merriment when there’s barely enough time to make a plate.

I’m thinking of the legendary parties of the past. The ones scheduled after work. Management reserves a space — maybe in the office and maybe not — and supplies the food and drink. Music plays in the background. We have time to dress up a little and get to know those intriguing fellows in the other departments. Sure, everyone blames the alcohol (and every year, someone overdoes it), but really, this is about a large group of people awkwardly pretending to have a good time. Then they either start having a real good time, or they find someone else to be awkward with. No one wants to be first to leave, and so people talk. And notice each other. And maybe flirt a little.

Dark corners and indiscretions abound. At least they used to.

Thankfully, intriguing fellows from other departments still exist. Our modern age hasn’t rendered them obsolete.

I know these parties used to be a proud holiday tradition. Ebenezer Scrooge attended a wild office Christmas party, for heaven’s sake. But I can barely remember the last fancy Christmas party I attended for work.

Are people still doing that?

What’s killing the wild holiday office party?

Is it fear of alcohol? I’m always dismayed by the notion that I can be trusted with the client’s sensitive personal and business information, but not with wine.

Is it expense? The last party I remember took place in the senior partner’s home, and that guy managed to get two carving stations in there. He seemed to be encouraged by expense. (He was a joy to work for, too.)

Is it good, old-fashioned laziness?

I hope not. I really hope that sloth isn’t smothering the office holiday party. Part of me thinks the real culprit is fear of litigation, and I think I’d rather hear that lawyers are the problem instead of laziness.

Click me to buy me.
Click me to buy me.

Actually, what would make me really happy is to hear that the wild office party is alive and well, and that the problem is that I’m working for the wrong people. I could live with that.

Then the challenge becomes securing an invitation to one of those parties. Right?

Anyway, if you miss the workplace inappropro as much as I do, you should get in line for Elizabeth SaFleur’s newest, Untouchable. You’ll get to see what happens when Legal and PR come together (yes!) after hours. (After PR’s hours, anyway. Legal tends to not really have hours.) Doesn’t that sound like a lovely way to supplement the holiday party? Doesn’t it?

And follow Lady Smut. We will actually bring something to the potluck.

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  • Post authorElizabeth SaFleur

    Ya know, I’ve noticed the same thing. Office parties seem to be more “obligatory” these days and nothing like the bangfest they used to be. Perhaps most people are so overloaded these days the last thing they want to do is spend more time at the office. Of course, it could be that the taboos of old (getting it on with that cute accounting guy in the janitorial closet) are no longer frowned upon. Then again, when’s the last time you’ve seen a lampshade in an office? They’re all sleek built-ins now. Spoilsports. 😉

    Reply to Elizabeth SaFleur
  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    It’s a good question. I used to work for a company whose annual party was legendary. Women planned their outfits weeks in advance. it was our own mini Oscars where we shouted out “who are you wearing?” to each other. Alas, no more. The company i worked for before my current one had an annual party in some conference space in the building where our offices were. The company I’m at now gives no parties whatsoever, although my boss has decided to pony up her own money and give us a drink or two and some appys. And I’ll be wearing exactly whatever frock I’ve worn for the entire workday. No dancing in the aisles, no one wearing a lampshade.

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
  • Post authorKel

    I don’t know about the movie-stereotype office party… but my company does indeed feed us and provide alcohol. Happens during the day and most everyone gets to go home early after… except IT and Customer Support… we have to go back to work.

    It lends to some silliness at the office.

    There’s sort of office-acceptable ridiculousness. The sort where everyone actually is having a pretty good time, but we can look each other (and each other’s spouses) in the eyes after. I’ve attended evening-shindigs as well, but spouses and significant others were invited, so if there was banging in corners, it was almost certainly not with a guy from that other department. There was some pretty crazy dancing with people I didn’t actually know, though. That was great fun. (But I’d do that at the grocery store if there was enough floor space, and have done the tango down the baking aisle at 2am to prove it.)

    The smaller companies I’ve worked for have done as the office environment and executive staff’s personalities dictated. The larger ones tended to have more structured “Holiday Party” parties.

  • Post authormadeline iva

    All the time I spent in academics, the classic out of control parties always seemed to have happened in a previous era, or the year before I got there, etc.

    Usually our department parties consisted of everyone cramming into the kitchen, no matter how small, and no matter how spacious the rest of the house/apartment and talking at each other, until drunk enough to start talking louder and laughing harder at their own not so funny jokes. However, the closest I got to a wild holiday party was when they crossed the streams and the department I was affiliated with had a party with the French department.

    There was dancing. There was dim lighting, and strangers with French accents. But at this party the host was loaded. He hoisted his beer stein and began shouting out “[dissertation director’s name here] thinks I’m a shithead!” over and over again, before letting his dog share the beer.

    At the same party one of the French department guys got hold of my hand and saying he wouldn’t let go until I danced with him. My drunken friend had to pry him off me, and then I left before the bacchanalia truly began, but my ride was leaving…so. Sigh.

    Reply to madeline iva
    • Post authorElizabeth SaFleur

      I’m hanging with you at holiday time. That’s all I’m saying. French accents and dim lighting? Deal me in.

      Reply to Elizabeth SaFleur
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