I will say upfront that I am not a huge fan of holiday parties. I don’t know why – I almost always have a good time. I think it’s the time leading up to the party. What do I wear? Who’s going to be there? Who will I talk to?
It used to be easier. When I worked at a Catholic school, our principal would take the staff out to lunch. I don’t remember picking Secret Santas (but we might have and I’ve since forgotten). We didn’t make a big huge deal of it – we just had a nice relaxing afternoon together.
Then, I met my husband, and had to start going to his work parties. That was always a bit different. It was usually at a restaurant and there was usually alcohol involved. The first few years, it was a very small gathering. Now that he works for a bigger company, the parties have gotten exponentially bigger. There is usually a pretty good mix of employees of the company and clients, and he always socializes. In the past, sometimes he’d get me settled at a table (usually with at least one person I knew) and then he’d go shake hands and rub elbows while I was as charming as could be until he returned. Since then, I’ve let him know that I’d like to come circle the room with him, which is a little better.
When I worked at Universal, there was always a big holiday party at a hotel where there was food and dinner and dancing. I attended two of these in my 20s.
These days, I also go to PTA gatherings, which is a nice chance to catch up with fellow parents I might not know otherwise, because our kids are different ages. It’s also sometimes a nice chance to catch up with any teachers or staff who show up at the party.
One of my favorite party memories is of my husband’s old comedy troupe, Comedy Sportz. We used to drive up to a cabin in the mountains and stay overnight. We would eat wonderful food and a white elephant gift exchange that promised anything from a light-up Virgin Mary to actual real life Disneyland passes. The other fabulous thing about this party was that we didn’t need to dress up!
I don’t know about you guys, but when I know I have to wear something festive and dressy, I start to feel a little bit panicky. My first thoughts are 1)I have to lose a few pounds 2)I hate trying on dresses and looking in that three-way mirror 3)I don’t want to have to buy a dress I’ll wear only once and 4) I’ll most likely decide in the end that I don’t like the dress nearly as much as when I bought it.
But, I do it anyway, because I can’t just show up in last year’s dress now, can I?
There were a few years without parties, due to the recession. I seem to wear a lot of black, if you’ll notice. Not sure why – maybe because I FEEL that it’s more flattering than other colors, though who knows if it’s actually true.
This year, I was dreading it until we left for the party. No, scratch that… til we arrived at the party. Thankfully we saw one of our favorite couples – Tony and Patrick – which set me in the right frame of mind to socialize and mingle. We ate, we talked, we danced. It was lovely.
I wish I had some stellar advice for navigating all the holiday parties you’ll be invited to. I suppose if I had to give some, I’d say – just go! Even if you’re nervous or stressed or ambivalent, you will most likely have a good time, and it’s better than staying home alone.