Monday, December 21, 2009

Steps for Success: Navigating Your Company's Open Bar Holiday Party


If you are like me, you are well into your 30's and you still struggle containing yourself at any function with an open bar. Doesn't matter if it's a wedding reception, a charity event or a corporate party, I still salivate at open bars (especially if they feature liquor). I have had my hits and misses over the years, so I thought I'd share some feedback to help guide you through your night.

Editor's note: The irony of this post can't be understated, as the author has a tremendous history of being wildly inappropriate while drunk and has no business telling anybody else how to behave while shitfaced. Or sober, for that matter.

My new company canceled the official holiday party this year because there will be enough backlash already with a reduced bonus pool. Stupid recession. As such, some overeager young beavers in the office put together an employee-sponsored party. Many of the proletariats in the office will be there, but a smattering of other folks will attend as well. As a new employee and a lover of all things booze-related, I felt obligated to get a weeknight hall pass from the wife and make a strong showing. Much to the chagrin of Z-Man and the Teej, my steps for success have nothing to do with these steps, these steps, or, for that matter, these steps.

Don't get drunk! Ah, ha ha ha. Just kidding. Had to throw that one out there to see if you all were awake. We know this ain't happening, so let's really start.

Manage your food intake. You want to have something in your stomach, but not be so bloated on greasy appetizers that a shot will make you vomit your tonsils up. Start planning at lunch - think of reasonable portions of food that are not too gross. I know it's tough, but try to eat like a normal human being, not a competitive eater who trains against himself every time he eats. And make sure to find the right early afternoon snack. A well-timed granola bar/cookie run around 4 PM may make or break your night.

Pre-drink before your open bar. You want that running start into the party because it looks bad to attack the open bar as people are getting there. Another method is to order drinks two at a time, but that's tricky. The best bet is to get a few scotches or pints under your stretched belt before hitting the party. It makes people think you're gregarious, when you're really just early to the drunk party.

Identify a pace horse. There will be somebody at the party who will make no attempt to hide the fact that he (or she, though usually a he) is there to get all sorts of hammered. As a person who shares the same goal but does not wish to broadcast said goal, it is your job to find this person immediately and make sure you are always slightly less drunk than that person. Doesn't matter if you're the second shittiest person at a party, as long as you appear less drunk than the shittiest person. And remember this - if you're drinking heavily and you can't find a pace horse, it may be you. And that's no good.

Do everything in your power to identify the pace horse to everybody else at the party (except the pace horse itself, dummy). Since you plan to be one of the drunker people at the party, you need to deflect attention from yourself at all costs. It doesn't matter if the pace horse is a good friend, your boss, your subordinate or the assblood from the 5th floor, make him known to all. This protects you a great deal after you spill your vodka tonic in your crotch, get cocktail sauce on your white shirt and absentmindedly rip a pungent fart while taking a whiz next to the department head. This is Corporate America, so the best defense is to throw somebody else under bus.

Never ever dance with Dutch men while throwing a gourd around. This one may be narrower in scope, but it happened to me one night a decade ago after eleventy vodka tonics and a poor decision by a girlfriend at the time to leave me alone for a few minutes. Next thing you know, you're pulled onto a dance floor by a secretary while holding the gourd on the table used as a centerpiece and you think it's funny to throw it to the group of guys from the Netherlands office who are at the party and wandered over to the dance posse, led by the rhythmic gyrations and trashy perfume of Staten Island secretaries. The Dutchmen think it's funny and start heaving it around amongst themselves. Soon, everybody in the group is playing hot potato with a vegetable while the bumpin' sounds of Lou Bega blast overhead and the women you work with flee the dance floor for fear that you'll peg them in the head. And then it's just you, a gourd and guys with funny accents. And a subsequent morning of head-scratching and regrets.

Know when to lead a break-away faction to a post-party bar. This is a key moment. When your feeble defense against shitfacedry is waning. gather your close-knit band of drinking buddies and branch out somewhere where you can be wasted in a safe environment. Irish pubs are always a safe bet.

Buy the first round at the break-away bar. Your merry band of fellow drunken morons will slowly lose their coherence, so let their last memory be one of you stuffing a drink in their hands. You can milk that round the rest of the night, especially as folks get even more hammered.

Water and Advil. Remember them before, during and after the night. Enough said on that.

Happy drinking.

52 comments:

rob said...

y'know, the amount of public service we provide around here is really, really underrated. well done, tr.

in unrelated news, and because i don't want to post back to back comments because i'm lazy, your william and mary tribe is up to 40th in this week's espn/usa today poll, garnering 11 votes. the tribe's got a tough road test at radford tomorrow. this is a game your father's tribe would lose. we'll learn something about tribe v2.0 this week.

jerome said...

I think this was an ABC Special.

Marlin said...

And that's one to puke on.

TJ said...

As emcee of my work holiday party...ah, fuck it, like Rodney said, Let's Dance

zoltan said...

TR means "pace horse" in Persian.

Shlara said...

Just catching up to the thread from the last post.

I'm at work today, even though my office is closed. Partly b/c I have to finish some things before the holiday break and partly b/c I had White House tix and it's only three blocks from my office.

The people's house looks lovely in the snow with the holiday decorations, if any of you care.

Jerry said...

I love the pre-party drinking call. It allows for a smooth entry -- you don't have to pound early to get yourself to a point where you can pretend to be enjoying these conversations. The early pounding is a danger area because you might keep that pace for too long.

Best way to avoid trouble is to work for a company that shuts the whole thing down an hour before trouble starts. That's what I do.

Also, aren't holiday parties finished for the next 50 weeks or so?

rob said...

not so, jerry. i'll be attending not one, but two holiday parties for my company - jan 16 in princeton and jan 23 in reston. more of a pre-president's day celebration, really.

Whitney said...

Rob's company throws the MLK Dance Par-tay.

TR said...

My company's shindig is tomorrow night. Open bar from 6-8 for $25 at a bar we have reserved will start things off. It will be cash bar from 8 to ?. I know who my real drinking colleagues will be because they're the ones who are openly strategizing how to maximize alcohol intake in 2 hours. The biggest fear is only one bartender for over 100 attendees. In that case, it's a no-holds barred fight to get drinks and hoard them in an out-of-the-way corner. I can also play the elitist card and drink from the cash bar and focus on gaining control of the music the bar is playing.

My biggest problem will be the "how do I get home" debate: $100 car service home at 1 AM, cattle-car train where I have a great chance of passing out or calling up the Z-Man and asking for some turf for my bloated carcass.

Dan said...

tr - you touched on the "crowded bar" scenario...always a good idea to get there early, build a rapport with the bar-tenduh, tip him nicely on that first cocktail, and let 'em/'er know you're going to be a VERY frequent visitor - convey in that first interaction what you are drinking, and how you like it so from then on, when he sees you coming, you just hold up your index finger...no communication necessary.

TR said...

Dan comes through with a great approach, one that should've been (but wasn't) obvious for me. I will take that into consideration.

Mark said...

Dan's approach is very similar to my approach at wedding receptions. Saves lots of time and effort, plus you get maximum drinking shares out of the approach.

Sadly, nearly every company I have worked for eschewed Xmas parties for Xmas lunches and other crap that didn't feature free after hours booze. Obviously, this sucks. I really, really miss the days of my minor league baseball Xmas parties.

TR said...

I used to work for a company that did an open bar after the annual JP Morgan Corporate Challenge in June, a hilly 3.5 mile run/walk in Central Park.

Mix the following: humid day, hilly course, long distance for novice runners, a big turn-out by out IT dept and a top-shelf open bar for 75 sweaty and dehydrated people. It was a total shitshow by some of the least experienced drinkers I've ever seen. One Russian guy dropped a full shot of tequila, and then passed out on top of it. And our head of HR was a divorcee cougar who wore the shortest Daisy Dukes ever to the party, showing off disturbingly muscular legs and hugging younger guys.

Total HR nightmare, but a great pace horse example. Needless to say, they stopped that party.

zoltan said...

The "big tip early" ploy failed us on Cancun Booze Crooze 1996. Either TR or Jordache decided to pony up a $20 tip after the first drink to assure the booze would steadily flow our way. Instead we got nothing - from the bartender or any of the ladies on the boat. I have eschewed this ploy ever since.

zoltan said...

I love overly-aerobicized cougars in Daisy Dukes. Seriously. They remind me of Catherine Bach.

Dan said...

i think the key there z-man is not to bust your load on that 1st tip....give 'em a little teaser. you could even be super cool (not that you aren't) and hand him HALF of a $20. Hmmm? Hmmm? Danny?! How 'bout a Fresca?!

rob said...

shaun suisham, kicking for the cowboys against the skins next week. this will end poorly.

TR said...

John Starks sighting at Penn Station. He left the shoeshine stand and almost bumped into me. Still looks 30 yrs old. No clue if he's learned to speak coherent English yet.

Dave said...

i'll offer some extra advice-- which is completely hypothetical, and did NOT happen last week at our holiday party.

do NOT, before a holiday party with lots of staff that you never interact with and also don't know their names, get stoned at the pre-party with an older flirtatious chick who scares you because she wears too much make-up and is pushing fifty and has weird sexual tension with your other friend.

i had a "friend" who did this and he sat at the far end of the party, as far from the principal as he could, and only talked to the same people he talks to every day-- so why bother going to the party anyway?

don't be stupid enough to do this.

Mark said...

Remember the kid from Oklahoma, Crocker, who wore a long sleeve shirt under his jersey all year last year?

Yeah, well no long sleeve shirt this year. Just two shooting sleeves. Why doesn't he finish it off with a hat?

Also, UTEP is killing OU. They look pretty good. Lots of talent for a CUSA team. Some little dude named Randy Culpepper just hammered home a tip-dunk.

Greasetruck said...

if he still looks thirty years old, maybe it's his younger brother.

Shlara said...

From today's WaPo reliable SOurce. They could have used today's GTB advice earlier..

A DNC Christmas Office Party Don't

It's the unspoken worst-case scenario behind all those warnings about your office Christmas party: Don't drink too much or . . . you might end up vomiting on your boss.

But that's exactly what happened Thursday night. The setting: The Democratic National Committee's high-spirited (read: open bar) holiday party at Josephine nightclub. The vomited-upon: DNC Executive Director Jennifer O'Malley Dillon. The vomiter: One of the most junior of the junior staffers.

Half of you right now are thinking: "Shocking, shameful!" The other half are thinking: "Oh, I remember when I did that!" Share your holiday memories at reliablesource@washpost.com.

mayhugh said...

Brandon Jacobs has not had a 100 yard game this year. Get ready to get off the schnide, youngster...

mayhugh said...

Giants O Line looking good early. Skins pash rush not getting close.

Whitney said...

The board game "Operation" has been around for 30+ years. Body parts have been removed by youngsters around the globe over and over and over again, and this Christmas it will be more of the same.

And yet Albert Haynesworth has taken more knees in a single football season than have ever, ever been taken by kids playing Operation. Good Lord, Albert, have some personal pride.

Whitney said...

And if you were wondering why the Skins have decided to collectively go into Operation Shutdown tonight, you, like me, apparently missed Bruce Allen's first and only memo to the team: "Season's over, boys. Gimme gimme good draft picks. I won't piss 'em away like Vinny."

mayhugh said...

I'd rather eat stale Tostitos than watch this game. Oh, wait, I'm doing both...

mayhugh said...

And what's the all-time record for fewest offensive plays from scrimmage in a game? I'd have to guess the Skins are well ahead of the pace.

Whitney said...

ESPN booth looking a lot cozier to Gruden right now.

Hell, a Dulles Toll booth looks more appealing than the Skins' sideline.

Whitney said...

Santana Moss just spun the ball when they were in hurry-up. Next season is capless? Cut all the fucking morons, Bruce.

TJ said...

I hope Zorn lets Jonathan Moxon give this halftime speech.

Whitney said...

They have this new thing, it's called a screen pass. I know it's hurry-up, but maybe slow down the jailbreak on every single play? Huh? Whaddayasay, Sherms?

TJ said...

Is this "the bakery"? Everyone gets a number?

zoltan said...

Just got back from dinner with my lady. Is Corky from "Life Goes On" this week's guest coach in DC?

zoltan said...

And why was Todd Collins in the game?

TJ said...

Yes, and Kellie Martin is Coughlin's DC z-man

zoltan said...

And the Teej just signed on to be Gillian to Holmgren's Skipper in Cleveland.

TR said...

That play to end the half was classic. I was soooo bummed that the Jints didn't return it for a TD.

TJ said...

That is the definition of icing on the cake.

Jerry said...

This is comical.

rob said...

i walked into the house after a holiday party at my gay neighbors' lovely home to find the skins down 38-6. I'm heading back for more gay.

Jerry said...

It's not even that close.

zoltan said...

Note that the Skins have scored more points and have allowed fewer points than my lowly Bills.

zoltan said...

rob, are you working your flow tonight?

rob said...

that was absurd. has the whole game been like this?

Jerry said...

Pretty much, except with fewer punches thrown and most of the Giants scoring drives have had more plays.

rob said...

could be worse. the bulls blew a 35-point 3rd quarter lead tonight.

Jerry said...

Holy crap that's ridiculous. Vinny is on borrowed time.

zoltan said...

The Book of Eli?

zoltan said...

"Eli's night is pretty darn strong." Indeed.

rob said...

all that's left to care about is this: whitney needs a 30-yard fred davis touchdown to beat faraci in fantasy football. those of you that know both gentlemen, commence rooting appropriately.