9 December 2016

Work Christmas parties – No you can’t touch that colleague's butt

| Rachel Moore
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Taking the office party too far. Photo: iStock

12 days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas The RiotACT gave to me – a comprehensive guide to dealing with Christmas in the Territory.

Work Christmas parties – No you can’t touch that colleague’s butt!

Finally! Another year is drawing to a close and your place of employment/work social club is paying for a flash and delightful party to celebrate. A seemingly unlimited supply of tasty treats and cold delicious beverages awaits at your employer’s chosen celebration destination. However, ditching all your inhibitions for one day when we need to work with these people for the next 364 at least might not be the best idea.

The RiotACT has some tips to ensure there will be no walk of shame through the office the day after your work Christmas party.

Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all time

No, you absolutely can’t touch her/his butt without permission. The fact that you are celebrating together makes no difference. There is never a time that it is OK to touch anyone, let alone your workmate, without permission. So before grabbing your boss to give them the festive season motor boat treatment, remember; not only do you need to think of moral and ethical consequences to your actions but legal ones. You could face very real legal consequences or disciplinary action from your employer. Unless you’re independently wealthy you probably rely on this job to do some stuff in life like pay the bills and buy food, so it is always best to remember that. Not to mention the fact that you probably have to work with these people for a while. You might not want them to be reminiscing about your nudie run at Christmas when you’re sitting in an interview for a promotion.

Don’t pre-load on cold beverages or anything else

Most work places will provide free drinks at the Christmas party which should make you question why you might decide to make yourself an 1800s Mother’s Ruin gin distillery and bring a flask. You might think that a little Dutch courage will go a ways in decreasing social anxiety and help you with the perfect witty pun. It won’t. Unless everyone else stopped by a gin distillery like you on the way to the party, in which case, you’re the cleverest human to ever live. Chances are you’re probably just going to say something dumb and freak yourself out.

Hunter S. Thompson did make it all seem very glamourous in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but you’re no Johnny Depp. Regardless of how cool and hip you think you or your workplace are, for now, drugs are illegal. Best to stick to the cold beverages. But if you do think consumption is a good option, be aware that people will notice the white powder on your nose and the fact your pupils are now the size of the moon.

Pace yourself

If you’re going to have a largish night, pace yourself. Eating is not cheating and twelve energy drinks mixed with concentrated cool beverages in one sitting will not set you up for a good night. The last thing you want is to find yourself in Fyshwick at 3am crying because you can’t find a kebab shop. Make sure that you eat sufficiently for the entire day of the party and stop every now and then for water. Yep, water, that magical elixir of life that is surprisingly supplied at almost every venue for free! No one wants to vomit up carrots and peas in front of the entire office after a few too many. And yes, not matter what you have eaten for last week there is always carrots and peas!

Romeo and Juliet – it started at the work Christmas party … said no one ever!

If it is indeed meant to be with your true office love, then so it will be. The office Christmas party is probably the single worst place you could hook up to begin a blossoming romance. Ask yourself why nothing ever happened with your beloved on the other 364 days of the year? Then, boom, suddenly you’re in a lip lock and planning growing old together in your head on the dance floor at 2am with Chumbawamba’s Tubthumping threatening to knock you down. Chances are you will not get back up again and your poor little heart might never recover. This could even mean contemplation of leaving your workplace when you wake up the next morning and realise that Romeo and Juliet is actually a really sad and tragic love story.

Also if someone has a ring on their left hand, they are taken. Unless polyamory is at play, just walk away. Regardless of whether the ring owner is the one making the moves. It’s complicated. Life is already hard enough as it is. Walk away.

Secret Santa – It is never a secret

You spend more time with these people often than your own family so chances are they can probably guess who bought what. Don’t be that person that regifts the free lip balm you got with your latest magazine purchase. Most work places set a limit for how much you can spend and generally all retailers have price limit options of fabulous pre-packaged gift goodness. After all, it is not the thought that counts, but the quality of the gift.

Don’t make the poor pregnant lady drive home all the drunk folks

Whatever you do, don’t drive drunk. This should be a given, but it is not. You have exactly zero excuses with the convenience of both taxis and Uber to ensure a problem free ride home. Not to mention that here in public service land the chances are a DUI could not only damage your current and future employment, but a conviction could also affect security clearances.

Are you really allergic to gluten?

There is absolutely nothing worse than settling in to enjoy the festivities when that one work colleague declares there is not a single thing they could possibly eat on the menu. Are you really allergic to gluten? Or are you intolerant? Do you have coeliac disease? If not allergic, best not to give the chefs at your chosen destination a heart attack and use the correct terminology ‘intolerant’. This means whilst you may become quite ill from consuming gluten, it is not life-threatening, unlike an allergy that can actually kill you. Take responsibility for your good self and scope out the menu before you attend your special meal, rarely is it a surprise where you’re going to eat. If there is genuinely nothing you can eat, contact the restaurant well ahead of time. Most places are going to accommodate dietary needs with sufficient notice.

A tale of woe

*Willow (name changed to protect seasonal indiscretion) was 18 and had not attended the adult version of a work Christmas party before. Willow and her work mate didn’t realise there would be many types of fancy cold drinks available at the function, not just the type they were used to that came in a box. So unfortunately they pre-loaded and consumed a few drinks before the party. After some beverage consumption and little food despite there being a whole delicious buffet, Willow decided to talk to her direct boss, Blake.

Whilst initially this seemed an excellent idea now is a good time to highlight that Blake was married to the daughter of the owner of the entire business, a lovely family affair. Willow tried to seem together after all her beverages and asked her boss what he was doing on the weekend to which Blake replied that he and his wife were going on lovely bike ride. With zero pause in the conversation Willow replied, “That explains it then!” Blake was confused and asked what she meant and unfortunately Willow replied, “Your nice ass”.

Willow apologised immediately, promptly leaving the function and Blake didn’t pursue the matter. For the next year Willow was lucky enough to receive at a minimum of once a week the sentence, “That explains it then,” from not just Blake but also the rest of the staff team.

We would love to know if you have any office Christmas party tales?

Next up in the RiotACT’s comprehensive guide on dealing with Christmas in the territory is: Day 2 – Christmas with the family and in-laws – a survival guide.

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The fun police have destroyed Xmas parties. The first two Xmas parties I attended as a strapping young grad had me witnessing a fight where at least two people were thrown over tables and vomiting on pool tables was laughed off as part of the programme.
Those were the days.

I worked at Dept of Finance and the Treasury/Finance Social Club held a Christmas party each year at the Albert Hall. During that period there were several ministers and Treasurers – John Howard, Paul Keating, Peter Walsh, John Dawkins, Margaret Guilfoyle, Eric Robinson. The only one who bothered to turn up was John Howard.

Gough Whitlam in his book The Truth of the Matter (Penguin, 1979) made reference to Treasury Secretary Sir Frederick Wheeler at the 1978 party saying that all politicians are b#$tards in his speech just prior to his retirement.

Blen_Carmichael9:30 am 04 Dec 16

I must compliment you on the accompanying photograph. Did it come from an APS email?

Rachel Moore said :

@wildturkeycanoe I will absolutely be using your term Technicolour yawn if I see anyone with too much Christmas spirit! @KMV, still a few more 12 day articles to go, who knows!
Thanks @Serina Huang, everyone wants to have a good time, but there are always a few who seem to forget and as wildturkeycanoe wisely stated no one wants to see a work mate riding the white porcelain bus

…..calling out for Brooooooooose…….chunder etc…

Many thanks to Barry Humphries aka Bazza Mackenzie.

Rachel Moore8:44 pm 03 Dec 16

@wildturkeycanoe I will absolutely be using your term Technicolour yawn if I see anyone with too much Christmas spirit! @KMV, still a few more 12 day articles to go, who knows!
Thanks @Serina Huang, everyone wants to have a good time, but there are always a few who seem to forget and as wildturkeycanoe wisely stated no one wants to see a work mate riding the white porcelain bus

Serina Huang6:50 pm 03 Dec 16

I laughed and laughed and laughed at this. But I think you have highlighted some important issues. It is easy to think that you are removed from the work scene when you are out enjoying, but really you are not. Thankfully my own work Christmas party was very tame in comparison, thankfully neither did I have any urges to feel up any work colleagues. But with the heat and alcohol, it can be very easy for wires to get crossed.

wildturkeycanoe6:41 am 03 Dec 16

I can recommend that you don’t choke on a piece of food for two reasons. Firstly, it can be life threatening. Thanks to a quick thinking, not inebriated workmate, the person in question had the Heimlich maneuver applied whilst they were turning blue. This probably saved their life. Secondly, it will avoid the following quips being attached to you for the next entire year – “Would you like me to chew that up for you first?”, “No, he doesn’t want the steak, he’ll have the chicken nugget kid’s meal thanks.”
Also, +1 for taking it easy on the drinks. I’ve seen people turn into boxers, threatening to bash up their boss and work colleagues as the emotional toll resulting from the entire year’s frustrations spill out into the open. I have also seen people’s “taxi ride” leave the party, threatening to lock the front door at home and for their drunk spouse to find somewhere else to sleep that night. It is a sad thing to see relationships, be they professional or personal, fall apart due to copious quantities of free grog. Also, you must beware the Technicolour yawn, which usually means the end of the party for you as you sit at the wheel of the white porcelain bus. It isn’t pretty for your friends either, if they haven’t ditched you by then, as they will bear the responsibility of getting you home safely. Mixing drinks and too much red wine seem to be the main culprits. Moderation folks, it could save your job, your friendships or your marriage.

Is there a special edition of this guide for the APS? 🙂

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