Plan your parties wisely

I was invited to two Christmas parties on the weekend. I went to both of them and I was home at 10:30 and asleep on the couch at 11 p.m.

My dad used to sit down in his overstuffed chair in the living room and fall fast asleep within minutes. I always wondered how he could do that but I’m finding out it’s not really that difficult.

There was a time when I was not only the last one to leave the party, but was also the one suggesting we look for somewhere else to go. Why go home when the night was still young?

Now, when I get an invitation to a Christmas party I check to see if there’s a Canucks game on because sweat pants and a T-shirt are much more comfortable than a suit and a Rudolph tie that lights up and plays music.

On top of that, there is always food to eat there that I’m not supposed to have. So of course, I have way too much of it and pay for it the next day. I mean really, do you have to put out sausage rolls if you already have a pot of meatballs  and a plate of garlic chicken wings? How many types of cheese do you need on a plate and why so many dessert choices?

Another benefit of staying home and swearing at the hockey game is that you don’t have to apologize to anyone the next day. Too often, we get carried away during party conversations with co-workers or family members and somebody says something they shouldn’t and Merry Christmas goes out the window.

In an article about how to avoid Christmas party pitfalls, it starts off with this advice: “Office Christmas parties can be a great boost for morale, but employers should be aware of potential risks such as sexual harassment, alcohol-fueled brawls, religious discrimination and post-party absenteeism.”

Well, doesn’t that just make  the party planning committee look forward to their task?

The article goes on to warn about decorations violating health and safety codes by blocking site lines, creating trip hazards or concealing exits.  Are we talking about a rave or a rock concert or just the good old after-work get together?

Sure I’ve been at parties where one or two employees passed out on the floor could be construed as a tripping hazard and another couple necking in the stairwell might have the exit blocked but no good story ever started with, “We were sharing a salad….”

People have to be allowed to let off steam.

The article points out that the office party is a work-related event and the employer should provide written policy guidelines for employees to follow. Who is going to police those guidelines and risk being labeled Scrooge for the rest of their career?

How about you preparing a policy statement for family members attending your Christmas dinner?

Think of the problems you could solve by sending out instructions ahead of time about appropriate dress, consumption of alcohol, which subjects are off limits, complete with a diagrammed seating plan.

I’m sure your family will appreciate your insight and welcome the constructive criticism.

After all you don’t want little Bobby asking Uncle Bill to show him how he drinks like a fish.

At the dinner table we can choose our friends, but we’re stuck with our family.

At least that’s what McGregor says.

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