Put down the Santa hat, step away from the open bar and stop flirting with Pat from accounting. What, you expect an office holiday party to be fun? Think again, Cratchit. The average office party is fraught with more peril than having a rabid mongoose tossed into your cubicle.
“In corporate America, having to go to the Christmas party is like a death sentence,” says Mark Veeder, founder and creative director of EventQuest, which plans parties and corporate events around the United States. “You always hear stories like, 'the tree fell down and killed someone!'”
If you think about it, the whole idea is a recipe for disaster. Take a handful of people who might never talk to each other if somebody weren't writing them checks, throw in free alcohol and sugary snacks, toss lightly with corny Christmas music and garnish with a year's worth of politics, anxiety and resentment. Serve chilled, with a side of the boss watching to make sure you're having fun.
Whether you're trimming the tree at Time Warner, singing carols at Caterpillar, hanging mistletoe at Morgan Stanley, opening presents at Pfizer or decking the halls at Black & Decker, the bad news is that — as sure as Santa's a jolly fat man — the party's going to happen. The good news is that we've consulted with a team of holiday experts and developed this guide to help prevent another nightmare before Christmas.