Just after the turkey and Black Friday mania begins the most exciting time of the year: holiday-party season! Lucky for you, I’m here to make sure you don’t screw it up.
The key to a successful holiday party is to have fun, but not too much fun. Holiday parties are like ordering lunch correctly: No matter what or who you do, who you think you are impressing or how much you drink, your performance at a holiday party can’t make your career — but it certainly can break it!!
Here are 6 key rules to follow at your office holiday party to ensure that you don’t wind up on your company’s Page Six gossip column.
Do NOT make this your New Year’s Eve
I refer to New Year’s Eve as amateur night. It’s the one night of the year where amateurs go out, get drunk and try and meet their future Mr. or Miss Right Now. I call those nights, Wednesdays. You should, too. Don’t make your holiday party your amateur night.
Remember, you will see these people again. You may even be their boss one day. What happens here will be remembered for until the next holiday party or longer!
DO reach out to new people
I cannot over emphasize how important this is. You spend all your time at work in your little clique like in the movie “Mean Girls.” So reach out to people you don’t normally talk to.
Ask your boss what he is getting his daughter for Hanukkah even if you couldn’t care less. Have a drink and a shot of Jameson with Jim the IT guy. Compliment Karen from corporate events about what a great party it is, even the party is as boring as watching competitive lawn bowling. Trust me, they will appreciate and remember it.
DO NOT reach out to your office crush
Rookie mistake! This is not the time to get drunk and hit on the guy or girl you’ve had a crush on for six months, but haven’t had the courage to ask out. It is OK to introduce yourself and lay the groundwork but THAT’S IT. Don’t expect immediate results. I know in your fantasy world, tonight she will instantly fall in love with you, you will live happily ever after, and have 2.2 beautiful kids and a Golden Retriever named Bo by next year’s party. But … no. Just NO.
More likely, she has no idea who you are or knows you as that weird guy from accounting. Let’s also face facts. It’s unlikely that he or she is more than a real life 6. If she was, your boss or someone who makes more money than you would have already scooped her up. It’s unlikely the “diamond in the rough” is like buying Apple stock before they invented the iPhone. It’s unlikely that Danielle from HR, is the Jennifer Lawrence that nobody else except you has noticed.
You go in now — you do more harm than good. Remember: There are plenty of fish in the sea equal to her (or him).
DO NOT make this a night to remember
I repeat: DO NOT do anything memorable. Anything that is remembered by next week about the holiday party is never a good thing. Nobody remembers if you can’t dance, but everybody remembers if you puked on the dance floor.
Don’t make this your coming out party. If you are a woman this is not your Cotillion, Quinceañera or Sweet Sixteen. If you are a man this is not your Bar Mitzvah, 21st birthday or divorce party.
Read More Confessions of a Wall Street trader
Do not challenge your boss to a chugging contest or corner him and tell him he is a bad boss. Do not use this as a chance to settle an old score with your rival in Fixed Income. Do not call your ex-girlfriend a slut (unless you do it over text message from a non-work phone).
Most importantly, remember that this is still work! If you do something inappropriate to a co-worker you can be accused of harassment, get fired, or worse! We have all gone home with people and the next morning regretted it. Thankfully in most cases, you can just ignore them and block that night out of your memory. Unless, of course, they sit 30 feet from you and you see them every day. That happened to a friend of mine. And since my friends and I are immature, we would make annoying comments every day about it. And every time he asked us if making fun of him got old, we would talk about it twice as much.
DO have a plan to get home beforehand
If you normally rely on public transportation, plan your escape route before you drink. If you normally take the subway home, then download the Uber app. If you live further outside of your city, like, say, New Jersey, don’t take the train. Pony up the extra cash and have a car service ready to pick you up at a specified time and location. I once had a friend get too drunk, miss his bus and wind up having to sleep under his desk at work. His boss woke him up the next day and asked him what he was doing. His response, “Trying to get an early start on the day.”
The best option is to book a hotel room for the night. You can party at the hotel bar and technically whatever happens there isn’t a work event. However, make sure you know where you are staying.
DO NOT take a colleague home
I mean this in two ways. First of all, don’t try and sleep with a colleague. Second of all, get them to the cab and let the driver do the rest – don’t try to be a hero and shepherd him or her all the way home.
Let me give you an example. One year, I was leaving a holiday party and noticed a colleague very intoxicated. I barely knew his name but told him to get into the cab with me. My plan was to be a nice guy and drop him off, then go to my after party. For sake of protecting his identity, let’s just call him Willie Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton from “Bad Santa”). Willie tells me that he’s staying at The Plaza. Sounds simple, right? Driver – take us to The Plaza.
When we get to The Plaza, Willie gets out of the cab and immediately falls to the pavement and hits his head.
I am late for the after party and want no part of this. I tell the cab driver to go. The doorman is screaming at me and runs after the cab and stops the driver. Turns out Willie has no wallet, ID or room key. The doorman calls the cops.
The cops come and the doorman accuses me of robbing Willie and dumping him off at the Plaza. I am a little drunk and explain to the cop that I am just dropping my friend Willie at The Plaza as per his request. The only problem is that there is no Willie Stokes staying at The Plaza. Turns out, Wille is staying at The New York PALACE Hotel. The cop tells me to take bloody Willie over to the Palace and make sure he gets to his room OK.
I agree and when we get to the Palace, there is no Willie Stokes with a room. I am arguing with the front desk guy. I am super late for the after party. After about 20 minutes, we realize that Willie Stokes isn’t even his name. Like I said before, I didn’t know him well. I got him confused with another colleague!
Here’s hoping you have a safe and unmemorable holiday party!
Commentary by Raj Malhotra (Raj Mahal is his stage name), a former Wall Street trader-turned-stand-up-comedian. He has worked at Wall Street firms covering three continents, including at Bank of America, BNP Paribas and Nomura. He draws from his unique ethnic background and Wall Street career to entertain audiences nightly, highlighting the struggles of the 1 percent. He can be seen at Gotham Comedy Club, Broadway Comedy Club, NY Comedy Club, Greenwich Village Comedy Club, and the Tribeca Comedy Lounge. Follow him on Twitter@RajMahalTweets.