What Bros Can Teach Us About Holiday Office Etiquette

For me and a lot of my Wall Street officemates, this was our first "real job," and we learned a few cardinal party lessons the hard way.

Dec 19, 2011 at 5:00pm | Leave a comment

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Back in the early aughts, I worked for the 1 percent, and partied accordingly.

The New York financial firm where I worked held a holiday dinner in classic pre-burst-bubble excess, at Cipriani’s on Wall Street. I was a 24-year-old rube from Ohio, underdressed and woefully polite. Because wealthy people mysteriously like to dress like children in 1991, the place was packed wall to wall with balding douchebags in blazers and women with Dorothy Hamill haircuts and velvet dresses with multiple taffeta bows.

Luckily, my douchey-in-another-way young co-workers commandeered a section on the upper level, hoarded bellinis and systematically destroyed the elaborate pinecone centerpieces at our table.

We were never asked back.

For me and a lot of my officemates, this was our first "real job," and we learned a few cardinal party lessons the hard way. I had been working for my firm since July, and the Christmas dinner was the first time I had conversations with almost half of my coworkers.

People were wasted: Another new hire blew the slutty guy in sales. (It was her first week, day 2. HE TOLD EVERYBODY.) The office scheduler (think an evil Curtis Sittenfield) went off on a co-worker about her snobbery and "ill-fitting" skirts. An Ivy bro intern got into a political debate with our Republican CEO (and never lived it down). A senior sales guy (read: my superior) offered me a line in the bathroom for lending him a cigarette.
 
THIS WAS A WORK FUNCTION.

While those halcyon, Shia LaBoeufian days may be gone (at least for me), I've taken the lesson I learned at that Xtreme holiday party to every social work function since.

Even if they don't involve alcohol, it's important to safeguard your work party behavior so that we don’t show any of our more unsavory "true colors" to senior people who influence our promotions, rasies, schedules, vacation time and on.

I’m not suggesting that you never hook up with a work pal or hit a happy hour with your coworkers…by all means! Vaya con LaBoeuf. I’VE DONE IT ALL.

Just try to keep the one event a year where usually it’s all hands on deck, holy, like the Holidays, and be smart, relatively sober, and do anything risqué at the after party/next bar. Which means...

1. Don’t get too drunk!

Seriously. This is the biggest rule. If you don’t follow this simple bit of advice, you potentially will be fingered by the IT guy, you will awkwardly converse with a boss who signs off on your reviews, and you might be forced to throw up a little in your handbag on the Queensboro bridge. Eat a biggish lunch, carb it up and sip.

2. For God’s sake, don’t hook up.

Nothing is more evident than the vibe of the "I-just-got-laid" variety (kudos to those who catch that reference) in the work place. Everybody finds out when you hook up. Everybody talks about it. No one ever forgets it happened. Compound that with an evening where you have tons of witnesses seeing you leave together or make out in a corner? Not the Christmas party, dudes. Wait for Veteran's Day, like everybody else!

3.  Shut the f--k up!

See rule #1. Even if the only thing you're drunk on is opinions, this is not the time to share you views on OWS or online dating or Christopher Hitchens' legacy. You will offend somebody. Sure, it feels like the right time to tell people intimate stuff but being too personal with people who know Work You can be disturbing. Plus, much like the hooking up with a coworker, anything you say can and will be held against you. Stick to polite topics: like talking about how amazing “Breaking Bad” is and how early you woke up this morning.

4. Limit the shop talk.

Whether you work somewhere corporate and they hold a gala in a museum, or you’re in 5-person office and everyone goes to Ruby Tuesday’s for lunch (order a fishbowl!), this is a time for comradery and not for gossip and bitching about HR. It's a party.

Now go have fun and for God's sake, pace yourself. Happy Holidays!