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How to Crush Your Office Holiday Party

It’s the magical time of year once again. Mail it in Season has officially started and all you need to do for the next 3 weeks is survive performance reviews, Q4 quota and the minefield known as the office holiday party.

A lot of good soldiers have been lost over the years to poor performance at the holiday party.  Don’t let that be you.

Office Holiday Party Tips

1. Be the 4th drunkest

For longtime WRDies, this has been our consistent advice since Day 1, but it bears repeating since some of you just don’t seem to get it. At any work drinking function, you want to get drunk enough to have a good time without being the story.

It’s tempting to take advantage of the corporate card and get bombed off 11 Old Fashioneds, but you will pay the price for that decision the next day at work in the form of shame and humiliation. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself and find your charming golden zone though. Here’s how you manage your drunkenness without ruining your life.

Eat Some Food

The biggest problem with happy hours is food timing. 5:30 isn’t really the ideal time for dinner unless you’re under the age of 75 or Mark Wahlberg. But you need something in your stomach, otherwise you’ll end up drunkenly telling your boss how hot his wife is and asking if his daughter is considering interning there next summer. Woof.  

Now, I’m not sure where a lot of you work, but generally there’s not “dinner” at a holiday party. It’s usually a bunch of finger foods and what we in the biz call ‘small bites.’ For you tonight, those small bites will have to add up to an entire meal to save your sobriety.  


7. Veggies with ranch dressing – fuck vegetables. Also, I can buy them at the grocery story if I want them.

6. Charcuterie with cracker and cheese – very hard to eat in a social setting. One of those foods that is too big for 1 bite, but too small for 2.

5. Meat Sticks (also known as Shish Kebab) – delicious but also hard to eat. Sometimes the meat is very dry too. Stinky!

4. Buffalo Wings – don’t you tempt me with wings at a holiday party. I will eat a dozen and have sauce all over my face. 

3. Shrimp Cocktail – very hard to find bad shrimp, but when you do it is gross. 

2. Tuna Tartare – on a cracker? Are you kidding me? Basically cooked sushi. 

1. Pigs in a mf blanket – this is acceptable, fancy kid’s food. 

Find Someone to Sabotage

This is a ‘break in case of emergency’ tactic, but in the cutthroat world of office happy hours, it’s every man for himself. Sometimes you gotta play a little dirty.

If you feel yourself getting on the express train to blackout town, rather than slow down, consider finding a work rival to force feed vodka sodas until they humiliate themselves. Everyone will be so busy focusing on how Mark from Sales took his shirt off at Wicked Willies and asked everyone to do body shots off his admittedly impressive abs that they won’t notice you’ve been passed out in a bathroom stall for the better part of an hour. Hello promotion!

Oh mark you absolute fool. you should never have tried me

2. Shoot Your Shot (Professionally and Romantically)

I get it. You want to spend the happy hour hanging out with your friends, talking about things that aren’t work for once this week. But a holiday party is the perfect opportunity to make a big move. People are out of their element, the drinks are flowing and this is your chance to turn chaos into a ladder.  

Tonight is about one thing- shooting your shot. Depending on who you are, that can either mean networking with the head honchos or making a move with your office crush.

Schmoozing with Higher Up

It might feel a little weird, but don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a VP or someone in a different department. Follow their lead, but try to avoid talking shop as much as you can. This isn’t your chance to wow a department head with your genius ideas for the business that they’ve definitely already thought of. You can be memorable just by being a normal person who can have a normal conversation.

Talking about fantasy football, their kid’s Little League team, or different bars on the Jersey Shore with your VP isn’t immediately going to get you promoted. But it will help them remember your face (and your name if you’re lucky) the next time they see you in the elevator. And they’ll go to themselves, “hey that’s the guy who told me to pick up Bam Knight off the waiver wire to save my fantasy season. Good kid.” That’s gotta count for something.

Making a Move with Your Work Crush.

We’ve covered office romances at length here at Work Retire Die headquarters, but since I know some of you are too scared to click a fucking link, here is a quick summary of my position.

Hooking up with a coworker is like hooking up with your friend’s sister. If you guys like each other, fine go ahead and do your thing. But just know that people will find out about it, probably talk about it, and any sort of breakup will be awkward. Just gotta know that going in and conduct yourself accordingly.

Back to tonight. This is your opportunity to make a move on your crush. Normally, you only see each other in the hallways or in meetings, but tonight you’re looking your best, you’re both loosened up after a few drinks, and it’s time to show them your incredible and not obnoxious out of work personality that they’ll definitely fall in love with and not make fun of in a group chat with their friends afterwards.

Pro-Tip – do your flirting and talking at the party, but make your move at the second bar that people go to after. Your humiliation will be way less public that way.

3. Listen More Than You Talk

Yes, I stole this advice from Aaron Burr. Yes, that’s the second Hamilton reference I’ve made in a recent memory. But it’s a very catchy soundtrack, a rich piece of history, and also has some very good professional advice.

Happy hours are hands down the best place to get workplace gossip. You’ll be surprised what you can learn about your boss after his admin has had a few glasses of Chardonnay. Or what Bob really thinks about his new role. Or how many times Chad drunk texted Sarah last weekend (11, plus 4 FaceTimes and a pretty alarming Snapchat of him standing on the subway tracks that was never explained.)

However, you want to be the person who knows the gossip, not the person who gossipsThis is an information gathering session only and your goal is to stockpile intel. Hopefully, you never have to use it but if you need to, you’ll be prepared to blackmail your way to the top (sr. associate brand manager who gets paid below market rate.)

My brain full of office gossip after the holiday party

4. Know When to Stay and When to Leave

One of the greatest life skills that I’m still learning today is when to leave the party. It’s important in normal drinking situations, but absolutely essential at office holiday parties.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • You can’t lose your job if you go home early

Lame, but true. A kid I went to college with got too drunk at a happy hour as a intern, lost his apartment keys, and ended up sleeping in the foyer of the office building one night. The CEO found him when he showed up at the office at 7 am the next day. Let’s just say he did not get the full time job offer.

  • If you’re a boss, people kind of want you to leave.

I don’t care how cool of a boss you are, your employees won’t feel comfortable letting loose until you leave. Go find your other boss friends and do boss stuff together.

  • But the second bar is always the most fun bar.

Some of my favorite nights have come once a crew leaves the happy hour and heads to a second bar. This is when you turn work friends into actual friends. Capture these moments whenever you can.

5. You Have to Face These People on Monday

Just a healthy reminder to think of the consequences of your actions at all times.

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