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Holiday Parties
Old 12-14-2008, 12:03 PM   #1
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Holiday Parties

Hi guys,
I haven't posted on here in ages as I've been busy...working

I had a question regarding Holiday parties and what the protocal is with them. I lean on the side that you should go, even if you don't want to, for at least 30 minutes. Show your face, shake some hands, etc.

But this past year I couldn't make because I was helping my younger brother move back home. He just finished his first semester of nursing school, and my office is not too far away from his apartment, so it made sense for me to drive down after work and help him pack as much as possible into my car and drive him to my parents house.

So I didn't RSVP for the party. I knew beforehand. Not everyone that I work with went due to whatever reasons they had. The next day though, wow, I was grilled by some people, including a director as to why I wasn't there. They didn't find my reasoning to be satisfactory. In the words of the director it was "couldn't he find someone else to help him" and "you make him sound like a teenager."

Wow! I played it off pretty good, but it made me wonder if I was seriously in the wrong here. What are the rules with Holiday parties?

For what it's worth, I do have a high paying professional job. The party was at a swanky club downtown.
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Old 12-14-2008, 12:45 PM   #2
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During my w*rking years, I made every attempt to attend the holiday parties. I would plan to stay just a little while...but most times I had fun and stayed longer.

I also tried to make the informal parties. During one of these parties I got into a conversation with the VP of finance that proved to be very beneficial for me. He didn't realize I was interested in a particular job and after a couple of weeks I was promoted.

This next statement almost makes me gag, but here it is. Sometimes you've got to schmooze.....
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Old 12-14-2008, 12:58 PM   #3
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I was obligated to be on the job during working hours....what I did or where I went on my time was entirely up to me. Over 30+ years, I sporadically attended holiday parties for work...maybe 5 or 6 total. I was never an @ss kisser, and I preferred to not hang out with those who were, which kept me away from most extracurricular functions at work because that's all that the parties and picnics ever turned out to be. All promotions were made based on a combination of seniority, job performance, training, and education....they couldn't promote or demote based on 'brownie points'....good for me, because I ran a deficit in the 'brownie points' account.

If I was questioned about my failure to attend a party, I simply told them that I had prior family commitments to attend to. If asked what those commitments were, I bluntly told them that it was personal....end of discussion. That normally settled the matter, but if it didn't and they continued to press me, I just turned and went back to whatever it was I was doing, and ignored them.
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:02 PM   #4
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Sounds like some people don't realize that there is life outside of work. Pavo's reason for not attending sounds reasonable to me - his brother will be there for a long time, perhaps not so the job.

That said, I made an effort to go to the holiday parties but no one was insulted if some had made other plans to be with family on that day.
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:03 PM   #5
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Maybe I was just lucky, but company Christmas parties (back when they used to actually spend the money to have them) were never painful for me. Based on what I hear from almost everyone else, though, that probably puts me in the 1% of the population...
"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:13 PM   #6
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Wow, grumpy coworkers. I don't think anyone should be hassled for not going to a party.
If an RSVP was requested, I think the courteous thing to do is to respond that you won't make it.

We hosted our work party at our home last year, with RSVP "regrets only" invitations. Almost thirty out of a hundred invited guests failed to show without responding, and we had sprung for dinner for everyone. While we had a good time anyway, it was very wasteful and I felt a little resentful and disappointed by those who ignored the RSVP - not because they chose not to come, but because we wasted so much.

But otherwise, I have no problem with someone not going to the party -- it's their choice, no big deal, no political baggage attached.
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:20 PM   #7
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Parties are for extroverts, of which few on this forum are, and I for one found the parties tiresome but necessary. My last year one week before the Christmas party they e-mailed everyone that those leaving the firm were not eligible to play bingo and raffle (big prizes like a trip to Bremuda that I never won). I politely told the HR gal I would not be coming and this probably was shocking but they were the rude ones. This year (retired) don't have to play the games; I have real friends over like I did last night.
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:21 PM   #8
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And as an aside to my previous post.....Now that I'm FIRE'd, I attend every Christmas party that I have opportunity to go to. This past Thursday I attended one for our Union Retirees' group at a very nice local steak house for lunch. Then that evening I attended a party for our garden club in the next town, at a small theater for a holiday show of song & dance, with a get together across the street at an Irish pub. Yesterday I went with a bunch with our local tour company to Peoria for a nice lunch buffet on a paddle-wheeler, then spent some time at the botanical gardens for their poinsettia display, then to a little craft fair & Christmas tree display. After that we went over to East Peoria for their Festival of Lights display....a 2 mile route through one of their big parks, that's set up with oodles & loads of lit up displays one right after the other...awesome!

there is one holiday party that I was invited to, that I won't attend though.....the one at my old place of employment. Heck, I didn't like to go to them when I was working, why the heck would I want to go now? To share the grief and misery? No thanks!!!
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:41 PM   #9
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At my job "brownie points" might get you ahead, but they wouldn't be enough for you to keep your job if you were not meeting your goals.

Hard work and determination coupled with brownie, blueberry or watermelon points, whichever anyone prefers, enabled me to retire at 41.
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Old 12-14-2008, 01:56 PM   #10
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When I worked for the public sector, holiday parties were strictly voluntary, and it was OK to not show up.

Now that I work for the private sector, the sense I get is that you should show up unless you are out of town. Luckily we have a small office and we mostly like each other. Regardless, I think one should go for even just 30 minutes. Of course if it's a long ways away it'll take up 2 hours, but you never know what you're missing...
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Old 12-14-2008, 02:13 PM   #11
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I don't think you have to go, BUT.... Even if they didn't ask for an RSVP, IMHO you definitely should have told someone before you weren't going to be able to attend. You never have to explain why, just that you won't be there.

For a party at a downtown swanky club (food and drink ordered and paid for based on RSVPs/regrets), I would definitely expect someone with a high paying professional job to give the professional courtesy of letting the boss know you wouldn't be there.

It's office politics but imho I would send a little note to the boss and party planner apologizing for not letting them know of your absence.
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Old 12-14-2008, 02:13 PM   #12
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What are the rules with Holiday parties?
Bottom line: How long is the open bar available?
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Old 12-14-2008, 04:53 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by bbbamI View Post

This next statement almost makes me gag, but here it is. Sometimes you've got to schmooze.....

I agree schmoozing is not ass kissing . It's making yourself visible and a smart move . I also think you should RSVP if that is what's called for .
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Old 12-14-2008, 04:55 PM   #14
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Old 12-14-2008, 05:26 PM   #15
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Being a rocket plant - we had a cast of thousands - my presence or absence was unremarkable. They were huge catered affairs.

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Old 12-14-2008, 05:30 PM   #16
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I am in the camp of being repectful and that includes apology & thanks in advance. It is not a big deal to say I am unable to attend a day or two after the date is announced.

I used to host and pay for holiday gatherings out of my own piggy bank and while the leftover booze and wine is ok next summer the salads and appitizers are not. Having food on a buffet for several hours and it's next stop is the landfill. I can plan for 20 or 120 but can not plan for 20 no-shows. They had a lack of courtesy and respect and there are some managers who never forget that.
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Old 12-14-2008, 05:31 PM   #17
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I have worked for the same large Federal agency for nigh on 29 years. I change offices every year or 2 (normal where I work), so I've seen the gamut of "holiday" "parties" as they are done at my agency. Such "parties" take place in the middle of the work day. There is no "company" sponsorship, and the employees typically refuse to pay more than $15.00 or so. In the 80's, it seemed like we could get more for our money; depending on people's talents and inclinations, sometimes we could rent a room at a local restaurant, have roasts and skits, etc. which were kind of fun.

Since the 80's, unfortunately, my office mates have either gone to a local box-chain restaurant and endured not being able to hear ourselves talk for 1.5 hours while everyone consumes a typical box-chain meal; or paid to have big-box-store-catered meals brought into the office, where we consumed them off paper plates, and played a stupid game involving wrapped cheapo gifts that are continually stolen and re-stolen; or (my favorite) we may have had an office pot-luck, which is the clear means to the best food. Some bosses won't allow pot-lucks, however, on the theory that "everyone gets a plateful of food and carries it back to his/her cubicle, and nobody talks to anybody." As if anyone talked with anybody else at the other kinds of parties....

Except for potlucks, which I love, and happily contribute to, I thoroughly dislike these "parties" since there is nothing party-like about them. They just aren't fun. There is no escape, however, other than taking the day off work, which seems extreme. They are just one more thing to endure until I am able to retire.

I will say, though, that nobody in any of my offices would ever criticize someone else for helping his brother move. In fact, they'd call him a great brother for taking time off to help. Some might tease him about pretending to help his brother move in order to escape the holiday party, but it would be friendly teasing. I am not sure whether this attitude has anything to do with the fact that we are not "highly paid professionals," as Pavo has described his job.
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Old 12-14-2008, 05:31 PM   #18
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Wow, so many responses. Thanks guys!

I did let the office manager (party coordinator) know before the deadline that I will NOT attend. She is the one responsible for planning, etc. To save face, I did ask her a day before the party if it would be alright if I can at least drop by for 15 minutes as I might be able to swing it. I told her that I have a family commitment, but I might be able to stop by for a bit, but no promises. She said it wouldn't be a problem.

Most colleagues don't discuss the party too much beforehand so nobody really knew who was going and who wasn't. I spoke with a few friends the day of the party and told them that I won't make it; quite a few were not going either.

I never thought anything negative of it. I did RSVP with a NO. The company rented out a party room at a club with minimal items - no open bar, just beer and wine. The company paid for everything, but the current economy has severely limited such events. They used to be full open bar galas with very rich dinners, but everyone is pinching pennies nowadays.

The next day some people gave me slack for it, but most didn't care. The director who gave me slack really caught me off gaurd - I was surprised he pressed the issue. Maybe because I am in my 20s and single that people tend to think what else do I have to do with my life, but frankly, I have a LOT to do when I am not at work and I enjoy that time

I'm newer to the working world, and I just wanted to make sure that I didn't cross any lines here. If it was a scare tactic on their part, then it sure freaked me out for a moment.
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Old 12-14-2008, 05:43 PM   #19
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We referred to it as "high-stress socializing" and I took the duty whenever I could.

When I was a student at the Naval Postgraduate School, with hundreds of other young officers and nobody "working for" anybody else, socializing was actually fun. The Trident Room bar was the hot place to be on Friday & Saturday nights, and families might socialize 2-3x/week. The holiday parties & weddings would be a liquor-fueled blast. More people used designated drivers & taxis than their own cars.

After NPS I was back at sea duty & training commands, and the parties spanned the ranks of the chain of command. Everyone was expected to be seated with their commands, everyone was afraid of looking like a jerk (or a drunk) in front of the XO or CO, and "fun" was mandatory. Navy Balls and Submarine Birthday Balls were so full of protocol that you were afraid to unclench any body parts, let alone spill a beverage on your uniform. (I think designated drivers outnumbered drinkers by at least 5:1.) Your command was expected to show spirit with a custom-made centerpiece, and for a few years there were "humorous skits" performed in front of the admiral. Shortly after those "traditions" started we began to be told what standards of spirit and humor were acceptable, and it all became a complicated political dance. By the time we did it once with my command and once with spouse's command we'd had more than enough.

Don't miss those days a bit.

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Old 12-14-2008, 05:44 PM   #20
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Our party was not only cancelled this year but next for financial reasons.

However, when we did have parties, the only thing that got management upset was if you said you would come but didn't because the caterers got paid by the head.
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