Sober at the Office Party

Written by on December 8, 2011 in Seasonal, Situations - 2 Comments

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting absolutely plastered. With a bunch of other geese it wouldn’t even be talking to if it didn’t work with them.

The office christmas bash is important. It can be the one time of year when everyone in the office finally gets to let their hair down and forget about TPS report cover sheets. Bonding, (of all varieties) can occur that just wouldn’t happen in the workplace in normal circumstances.

But they’re volatile situations. You’re surrounded by friends and enemies; potential lovers and potential haters; people who can get you promoted and people who can get you fired. What better to do in this situation than to lose any semblance of self-control?

Of course, it’s also often the time when the secret Santa presents are handed out. Is that one for me? Oh look, it’s the alcohol-driven truth of what you think about me! You shouldn’t have. No, really.

Going alcohol-free

So, as well as all the good reasons for not drinking in general, the office party is certainly a good place to consider being sober, regardless of whether you normally drink. However, there are definitely some things to think about if you do.

Firstly, it’s a good idea to think about your answer to ‘the question’. Because at some point in the evening, someone is sure to ask you “why aren’t you drinking?” It helps to know in advance how much you’re comfortable telling them.

Plus, of course, people can feel uncomfortable hearing too much personal information about a co-worker. And remember, it’s meant to be a fun, light-hearted evening – not everyone necessarily wants to be taught the Serenity Prayer or be led through the minutiae of intra-hepatic surgery.

Secondly, if it’s important to you to have something interesting to drink then mention it to the organisers in advance. If you’re going to a pub then they might not have much choice, but if it’s an in-office bash then they’ll need to know to buy something other than crates of lager and Pinot grigio.

Thirdly if the posters and emails are describing it as the ‘Annual Xmas Drinkfest’ then you might want to consider whether you really want to be there at all. By all means challenge that culture if it’s important to you, but there are definitely some workplaces where you could find yourself as King Canute facing an incoming tide of alcohol.

Finally, do remember to enjoy yourself – that’s the general idea, after all. If you’re having a good time, few people will care whether you’re drinking or not, yourself included. And when it feels like it’s getting too lairy, then leave. Simple. The great thing about not drinking is that you do actually know when the night is over.

The aftermath

The great news comes when you’re back at work, where you won’t get drip-fed information about things you may or may not have done. Although, on the downside, you won’t get to be part of the stories that last all the way until the next one, possibly even becoming enshrined in company legend.

Though even if you’re not drinking, you might still end up part of a rumour. As has been pointed out to me, “If you’re a woman and you go to the office party and you don’t drink, everyone thinks you’re pregnant.”

Do go easy on the after-party gloating – you won’t endear yourself to anyone. Besides, you now have a library of indelible images to draw to mind any time a colleague is being insufferable. There are some things that can’t be unseen.

So here’s to a Christmas party that doesn’t end with your goose being cooked. Or even marinated, for that matter.

About the Author

Neil Bennion stopped drinking alcohol for health reasons back in 2006. He's been ridiculed all over the world for his lifestyle choice, but he must like it because he keeps coming back - or rather, going away - for more. Neil is a freelance travel writer who blogs about productivity on the road at Wandering Desk. Note that Neil is not a health professional (thank goodness) so the traditional disclaimer about everything being your own fault applies.

2 Comments on "Sober at the Office Party"

  1. Chris Howard August 28, 2013 at 10:09 am · Reply

    Hello Neil your mum has told me about your not drinking and I recently had a wake up call when I read a book by allen carr not the chatty man by the way. I haven’t given up drink now because that implies I miss it which I don’t. You may want to look the book up – the easy way to control alcohol.
    Hope you’re enjoying wherever you are currently.

    • Neil Bennion August 31, 2013 at 9:35 am · Reply

      Thanks Chris! Whilst I personally wouldn’t benefit from such a book there are plenty of people who I’m sure would, so it’s certainly useful to know about.

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