Believe it or not, before I became head of the endlessly burning strip-mall carnival that is Thunder Pear Publishing, I used to work regular office jobs. Well, okay, that’s probably easy to believe since I’ve mentioned it before and obviously I had to work regular jobs before the writing took off. Point is, I spent much of my twenties having to go to Office Christmas Parties (OCP from here on out) and noting the myriad of missteps my fellow cubicle grunts would commit. Since I know much of my audience is still finding their own footing in the corporate world, I thought I would put together a handy guide for how to get through an OCP without tarnishing, and perhaps even elevating, your reputation among your coworkers.
1. Don’t Steal Anything Too Heavy
It goes without saying that you’ll use the distraction of an OCP to rob your office blind. They pay you shit wages and refuse to promote you even though you only showed up drunk to work like… three times this year, which is a huge improvement from the last. Seeing as how no one does Christmas bonuses anymore, it’s your God-given right to pilfer as much as possible while the bosses are doing body shots off a copier.
However, rein in your ambition there Robin Hood. You still have to come to work next week, and it’s not like security is going to be too drunk to watch the security cameras when an entire copy machine is missing. Focus on small things you can hide in your pockets, purse, or suit jacket. Pens, pencils, staplers, toilet paper (if your office is nice enough to spring for the good stuff), post-its, memo pads, you get the idea. Things you can sell to your irresponsible roommates or some college kids with hope still shining in their eyes (bastards) to make a quick buck.
I know, I know, the monitors look nice and shiny and you can just picture how fancy the pizza you could buy with that money would be, but better a thousand small crimes you pull off than one big one that gets you booted out the door.
2. Never be Drunker than “The Boss”
I put quotation marks on that because I want to be very clear here: I’m not talking about your particular boss. Like you, they are a cog in a greater machine, meaning any power or value they appear to have is illusionary. No, I’m talking about The Boss, the most powerful person present at any given gathering. It’s a title that shifts as people enter and exit the party, one you need to keep careful track of. If The Boss is throwing back shots and yelling for someone to make a sandwich run, you take a few yourself and make that fucking sandwich run (By which I mean order sandwiches on your phone. It’s the future, let’s act like it).
Nobody likes the office shitshow (or so I’m told) but a stick in the mud is no fun either. Treat The Boss like a pace car: however much they’ve had, you’re a few drinks behind. Because when the dust settles, as long as you were A) around The Boss and B) didn’t do anything worse than them, you’ll be untouchable. After all, if you play this right then The Boss might have a new drinking buddy, and nobody fires their drinking buddy.
In the event your version of The Boss is sober, quiet, or otherwise boring, then you must be too. Maybe use the time to hunt for a new gig, because that place sounds like it sucks.
3) Spike the Punch Carefully
Listen, we both know you’re going to spike that punch. What did they put in it, two drops of Crème de Menthe? Don’t they know you’ve got the kind of drinking habit that comes from dealing with a dead-end job in your post-college years? That punch as is won’t cut it. You need something that hits you like an actual punch, yet still tastes sweet enough to mask the garbage liquor you can afford. But you have to use a delicate hand, you don’t want upper management to realize all the cube-dwellers are shit-housed before they’ve sipped enough wine to feel buzzed. Part of that means making sure no wanderers who try the punch can tell that you’ve… let’s say recalibrated it.
Your first aim should be to match flavor with flavor. If it’s a fruity punch, use a fruity liquor (yes the old man who runs the liquor store will judge you, but he’s done that since you came in three times in the same night to buy more cases of beer anyway) or if it’s a mint punch go for something like Rumple Minze to get mint flavor. If flavors cannot be paired, however, then you might have to match bite with bite.
In a worst case scenario, you may have to show (gasp) initiative. Bring your own fruit punch mix, toss out whatever garbage they made, and fill that fucker with Everclear. Fruit punch is already a little tart, so the bite of the Everclear won’t be as bad. I won’t lie to you, the punch-spike-switch is a high-level maneuver that comes with plenty of risk. Pull it off though, and you shall be carried on the shoulders of your fellow cube stooges as the night’s triumphant hero.
4. White Elephant with Care
Don’t bring a dildo to the office gift exchange. I know by this point you’ve realized this whole blog is comic over-exaggeration, but this is actually a very real lesson I saw unfold in the office days. Someone brought a dildo to a white elephant gift exchange with management, not just their department, and it went over exactly as well as you’d expect. So I repeat once more before we dive back into the absurd humor: Don’t bring a dildo to the office gift exchange.
Instead, bring a dozen dildos to the office gift exchange. Bring as many as you can afford, and remember you’ve got that sweet office supply money coming to refill your coffers, so go nuts. Swap out every card and tag with one of your dildos wrapped in an assortment of different, untraceable festive papers. The goal here is not to make everyone bring home a sex-toy, that’s a side-benefit. No, the goal is to sow distrust among your peers and overseers. When the gifts start getting opened with false name tags attached, they will be forced to ask the inevitable question: did… did someone replace all the gifts with dildos? No, that’s impossible, no one would be crazy enough to do that. More likely, everyone here felt like dildos were an appropriate gift to bring to an office party. As more dildos emerge and the distrust mounts, whisper in their ears, plant fears and secrets, and wait to harvest them when the New Year arrives.
But if you’re not willing to commit to that level of deception and trouble-making, then skip the lewd gift entirely. Bring batteries, or something useful but boring, and bide your time until the real party begins. Soon the booze will flow, The Boss will try to drown their latest divorce in whiskey, and the office supply pantry will be unguarded.
There is partying to do, so go forth and do it!