It's December again, and that means that at some point over the next few weeks, you will be
enjoying forced to attend a holiday party. This year, you're going to use some well-chosen tools—and your brain—to survive.
There's a reason company and party are only uttered in the same sentence once a year. These so-called festivities are not fun, and if you really think about it, your boss is just trying to screw with you. Inevitably, you'll do or say something stupid, and then you'll spend the next year hanging your head in embarrassment. You're going to need a plan. Don't worry, we're gonna help. Here are a few tricks to help you survive the most common holiday party pitfalls from when you first arrive to the bitter end.
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The best laid plans end in disaster when the party starts and you completely forgot your playbook, so keep one on your wrist like the pros do. Wait, were you not supposed to talk to accounting or marketing? Crap! Don't let this happen, keep a playbook wristband like the one the pros wear up your jacket sleeve. $8
It's widely accepted, if not necessarily true, that every conversation has a lull every seven minutes. Use a stop watch to rigorously meter out the time and keep conversation moving. Standing alone by yourself is insanely awkward, so at the beginning of a party you're going to need to talk to people. But the only thing worse than standing alone is that moment when a conversation has gone on too long and your coworker stops being a colleague and becomes an icky emotional mess, and you're supposed to care about why the hell they just got divorced—again. These people are paper pushers, man. They love procedure. Start the BigStopWatch iOS App at the beginning of the conversation, and seven minutes later cut them off. Shrug your shoulders and say "it's science," and move on. Repeat until everyone is drunk. Free
Thirty-minutes into the party everyone's drunk, and now they won't listen to procedure. Someone starts mercilessly flirting with you. They won't take no for an answer, so you're going to trick them. Nuzzle up closely like you're going to go with it, and then break out a tin of extra-strong Altoids. Offer them one and say, "I think you could use one of these." When they stare at you blankly add, "These are great—they'll cover up anything." $3
Oh no! Someone convinced the DJ to play the Electric Slide. It's so horrible and you'll never be able to look at yourself in the mirror again if you participate, but you can't decline or you'll look like a party pooper. Actually, if you're wearing an ankle brace, you can get out of all kinds of physical activity. Pull up you pants leg an squish up your face contritely. "Sorry guys! Maybe next year!" Suckers. $36.95
The seven-minute enforcer isn't working and you're getting dangerously close to friendship with one of your coworkers. You're going to need make yourself the last person in the world your interlocuteur wants to talk to. There's a lot of options. My favorites are "the Unmagic Trick" in which you repeatedly try and fail to do tricks with little sponge balls and "The Family Circus" in which you pull out a wallet full of photos—photos of anything, really, and just start talking about each at length. Your coworker will move on in no time. $8.93
People are starting to get tipsy so take advantage of this key moment while people are still vaguely rational. Pick some hapless young co-worker and approach him with the business card for a taxi or car service and say, "I've gotta be totally honest with you man, I think you need to go home." Walk the kid out of the party, take away his phone, put him in a car, give the driver a $50 and tell him not to let the kid out until he's gotten home. Now you're free to be, and no one will ever believe that drunk's story. $50
This happens to great coaches and quarterbacks all the time—so play it like they do. You've stuck to the plan, and played the game well, but you're still stuck at the party. In the closing minutes you're losing faith in your playbook. Pretty soon you're going to get roped into some horrible after party. You hadn't planned on overtime. It'll take a whole year to make up for your failure to convert at this key moment. The only weapon left in your arsenal is the Hail Mary. Grab the nearest bottle of expensive hard liquor, tip it back, and leave it to the gods to decide. You might get intercepted, but hey, it just might work. $On The Company