Drinking booze at your office holiday party is dangerous. One too many and you could end up sloppy and reckless, revealing the amount of your Christmas bonus to a co-worker, being reported to human resources for your secret office romance or, worse yet, being photographed dancing.
But there are ways to prevent such mishaps while still partaking from the bar, if you have that option. Dry office gatherings should just be called “unpaid meetings,” in my opinion, but there are plenty of reasons why businesses don’t pump alcohol down their employees’ throats. To be safe in this fraught workplace environment, you can choose to forgo alcoholic beverages altogether. Or you can employ a few strategies to navigate the bar and still save face.
First, the preventative measures. Eat a full meal before you get to the party. No matter how much finger food you are promised at this event, there will inevitably not be enough cherry tomatoes to go around. Food helps slow your body’s absorption of alcohol, and a full belly deters you from filling it with more drinks. So on your way to the party venue, go through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Big Mac with large fries and a Dr. Pepper. (Diet starts on Monday! The first Monday of 2020!)
When you roll up to the party — which, you should not do hand-in-hand with your secret office lover, especially if you’re both carrying McDonald’s bags — have a drink limit in mind and stick to it. Only you know how many drinks you are able to consume socially while still staying in control of your tongue. Whatever that number is, plan on drinking one fewer. No one’s ever regretted staying under their limit. You want to pace yourself and remember this party. You want to be able to ask for a raise on Monday.
Choose your drinks wisely. The first drink is just to take the edge off. A crushable domestic beer is good for this cause. Shotgun it and then order something rehydrating like a seltzer and lime or seltzer and cranberry juice and lime. This is the time to schmooze with the higher-ups, when you are loosened up but still relatively sober. Do not even look at your secret romantic partner because you’ll give yourself away, and you want the bosses to remember how charming and polished you are.
Once you’ve got the important facetime out of the way, you can get your second alcoholic drink. This one you’re going to nurse, so if you chug wine like Jesus’s disciples did (like water), get something boozy to slow you down. Maybe sip on a glass of scotch or an old fashioned. Try to enjoy that drink, savor it like a piece of juicy workplace gossip.
Now you are going to rub elbows with the commoners, the creatures whose cubicles square up with yours. You probably don’t know everyone there, or at least everyone’s spouses there, and you probably don’t like everyone there, or at least everyone’s spouses there. So a few things to remember: No shots. Mistletoe is decorative only. Trust no one with your gripes about the company or the affairs of your heart. You can’t dance.
Get another hydrating beverage like seltzer and measure your level of drunkenness. Remember that limit you set before the party and proceed with caution. You are under control, you are showing discretion. You are the mature, star employee. You are not going to ruin the established office dynamics with your secret relationship. When other people start leaving, follow their lead. You never want to be one of the last people at the party. Excuse yourself to the bathroom and Irish goodbye your way on home.
Let’s say, hypothetically, you do not follow all of these tips and you have one or eight too many. Don’t sweat it the next morning. Everyone else you work with is worried that they were the ones who had too many and said something insane or revealed their secret office romance the night before. When, look, none of us can fight love, so let’s not worry about the consequences of that until after the holidays, or at least until HR gets involved.
Alyson Sheppard is Lagniappe’s resident hangover specialist and Boozie’s most unreliable Baldwin County spy. Find her on Twitter: @amshep.
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