It’s that time of year again. Time to tear the foil off the hastily wrapped gift your Secret Santa picked up last minute from Walgreens. Ugly sweaters have awakened from hibernation and crawled out from the bottom drawer, while an eggnog-drunk Bob from Accounts Payable has been belting Karaoke Bon Jovi for over an hour.
You may think we’re being Scroogey, but the truth is we love the holidays! We just know how these office parties can go off the rails real quick or never start up at all. That’s why this year we’ve put together some T!LTed tips to take your Christmas party to the next level.
Of course, we should mention Hanukkah as well (for legal reasons). After all, the Festival of Lights runs the 22nd through the 30th this year, smack-dab in the middle of the holiday season. But, if you are hosting a Hanukkah gathering, you better make sure you know how to spell it correctly. “Hanukkah” or “Chanukah” are the two accepted spellings.
Progressively Egregious Misspellings of Hanukkah.
And it’s not just Christmas and Hanukkah coming up. New Year’s Eve is right around the corner as is Jared Leto’s birthday! There’s almost too much to celebrate.
Whatever the occasion, Rule Number One for any holiday party: Serve food. Lots of it. Be tasteful but not too fancy. The fancier the food, the smaller the portions. A dime-sized pastry puff with a dollop of lavender foam isn’t going to Snickers-satisfy anyone. Make sure you have ample sustenance — ham, leg of lamb, turkey — whatever animals you’re comfortable slaughtering. And plenty of sides and vegetarian options. Most importantly, all of the food should be accessible right away.
If you wait to serve food, guests will be downing champagne on an empty stomach and might get a little aggressive. Before you know it, an argument about the flat tax can blow up into a full-on fistfight. Or worse, two wasted colleagues could hook up in a gag-inducing PDA.
We must not forget that Christmas is, above all, a time for indulgence. The Bible says that somewhere, maybe. As such, every party should provide a cornucopia of desserts. Our own T!LTed thinkers have a few suggestions for confectionary concoctions to add some flavor to your party. Just ask Braiden about his grandma’s famous peanut butter ball recipe. And you can always go with the experts too, even the formerly incarcerated. Steve swears by Martha Stewart’s Sugar Cookies.
If all this sounds overwhelming, consider hiring a chef, caterer, or band of oompa-loompas to sherpa the load of preparing and serving the food, so you can do what you do best: mingle with people you have no desire to talk to.
T!LTed TIP: Lunch office parties are becoming more and more popular. They drive down costs and increase employee availability. There’s no longer a conflict with dinner at the in-laws or a child’s intolerable recorder recital.
Whenever and wherever you hold the party, you’re going to need alcohol for celebrants to wash all that food down, help shier workers shed their inhibitions, and generally make the party bearable. Eggnog is fine, as is any nog for that matter, but you’ll want to provide alternatives for those who don’t like their beverages resembling a cup of mucus. Our T!LTed survey suggestions included Hot Toddies, Rye Manhattans, and Apple Cider & Cinnamon Mimosas.
Of course, libations lead to loquaciousness. And loquaciousness leads to you Googling its definition. To save you time, it means being overly talkative. It’s inevitable, then, that you’ll be cornered by someone you don’t want to talk to, whether they are blathering on about model trains, showing Instagram pictures of their cat, or fumbling through ineffectual close-up magic. You need to be armed with ways to get out of these situations. The “I’m going to get a drink. Do you want anything?” is a steady stand-by. But you may want a few other escape tactics in your repertoire. Try pretending to get a text and saying, “Sorry. I need to make a call. It’s a medical thing.” You’ll be given a free pass to leave and sympathy to boot. If all else fails, play the diarrhea card– which, by the way, is also the world’s worst Tarot card selection.
Another way to avoid small talk hell is to have a few fascinating facts to pull out when things get dull. 1) You’ll initiate a more interesting conversation and 2) You’ll sound smart in front of your supervisor or other guests of influence.
Some Fascinating Facts to Bring Up:
- There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels inside your body which, if extracted and put together, would wrap around the planet twice.
- Yawning is so contagious that it can spread to dogs and monkeys.
- There are roughly 70 ingredients in the McRib.
- Sea otters hold hands when they sleep so they don’t drift apart.
If you really want to have a little fun, throw out some bogus facts and see if they bite.
Facts That Sound Real for a Second But Really Aren’t:
- Each year, more people are killed by luggage carts than airplane crashes.
- A small amount of crystal meth is used in Cool Ranch Doritos.
- In 1946, the most popular name for both boys and girls was “Milt.”
- Women originally wore make-up for warmth.
You could create a party “theme”, but that’s what we do in this business so that would just make leisure seem like work. However, you do want to set the mood, preferably a “jolly” one — which means you need to keep your stress level at a minimum during the holiday season. Telecommute the week before Christmas. Get plenty of exercise to offset a tenth of the calories you’re about to consume. And to keep things low-key at home, as corny and cliche as it is, Elf on a Shelf remains an effective tool for manipulating children toward better behavior through threats and bribery. The only problem is that it’s hard to remember to move that f*cker every day.
Anne writes…My husband and I continually forget to hide our Elf on the Shelf and have to make up stories about why she doesn’t move at night. Like the kids were really bad and the elf was “paralyzed by fear.” Other times, we didn’t get the elf out in the morning, so she “had to stay in the North Pole and help Santa”.
T!LTed TIP: If you want to take Elf on a Shelf one step further, hire a drifter off the street to be a more realistic and intimidating elf.
drifters, elves, having Christmas movies like Elf playing on a video screen allows for the antisocial to hunker down and have something to do. T!LTed Thinkers’ favorite holiday hits include Love Actually, Christmas Vacation, and Home Alone. If it’s a family affair, and young kids are there, play the claymation classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, so you can impart the message that we should tolerate those who are different, provided they serve a utilitarian purpose.
Play the video at low volume so it doesn’t overtake the music. There are plenty of Christmas playlists on Spotify, from Classics to Christmas Pop, to Deathmetal Satan Worship. Your call.
Music is one thing, but whether to have dancing is a much tougher decision. Watching coworkers dance is like a primitive man discovering fire. It’s strangely enticing but dangerous to be near.
There are plenty of alternatives to dancing when it comes to entertainment. The Ugly Sweater competition is a stalwart, though it’s grown a bit stale. Instead of an Ugly Sweater competition, why not have a “Repulsive Pants” contest?
White Elephant gift exchanges can be fun, but only if enough thought is put into the gifts. Think about a novel and surprising gift that costs less than twenty dollars. Mike came up with a gem: Mike Tyson’s Autobiography, while Morgan suggests a pineapple. We can only imagine what bringing that to the store’s gift-wrapping station would be like.
More Fun Things to Have Wrapped at a Mall Gift-Wrapping Station
- A live mallard
- Your left arm
- A roll of wrapping paper
Bottom line: Juggling food, drink, entertainment, hosting, and sobriety is a difficult feat.
The key to success is finding the right balance–or rather being just a tad off-balance. Take a step back and look at it from a fresh perspective. Be different and make it fun. In other words: be T!LTed. Have enough beverage options to make people happy but not hammered – a slight lean is okay, but not so far they fall over. Keep it casual enough that people feel comfortable, but not so much that they show up in flip-flops and cargo pants. Have a festive feast, but not so gluttonous as to necessitate a vomitorium.
Have fun, but don’t overdo it.
Be surprising and appropriate.
2020, here we come!