The holidays are here! And hopefully that means many of you are looking at full dining rooms and booked out reservations. For those of you looking forward to some lucrative big-tops, here’s a handy holiday guide of the kinds of parties you can anticipate, and how to handle them.
The Awkward Office Party
Description: These come in large sizes, like 10 or more people. All the carefully bottled up office politics will come to the surface even before the drinking starts. You’ll know this is an Awkward Office Party when only half the members have arrived: They’ll stand at the table, unable to decide where to sit. As they hover they’ll have a loud conversation about whose spouse is coming, where the boss should sit, and why no one in Accounting ever comes to these things.
Action: Identify the alpha-customer (this may or may not be the boss, so don’t assume.) Once you know who’s in charge (and who’s getting the bill) focus on getting everyone drinks.
The Dysfunctional Family Party
Description: As Tolstoy once remarked “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” If you’re lucky your table will feature a well-adjusted family that’s excited to sit for a holiday meal while planning presents for the children. That’s if you’re lucky – like, Ringo Starr lucky. What’s more likely is you’ll get a family so dysfunctional Jonathan Franzen wouldn’t write about them. These tables are easy to spot: multi-generational with deeply conflicting cultural signifiers. Look for at least one Make America Great Again hat and at least one PETA tattoo. Bonus points if both are worn by the same person.
Action: Stay low-profile. This is about survival and the auto-grat. If you feel daring, sneak extra scotch to grandma and ask her who she voted for.
The Uncomfortable Couples Dinner
Description: Oh these are fun. Basically, it’s a four or six top comprised of couples. They’re getting together to get away ‘from all the holiday stress of family and work’ or some such nonsense posted to Facebook. They’ll then proceed to spend the whole evening talking about their jobs and their kids. Since they all have babysitters and no morning meetings they’ll start drinking too much, too quickly. Trouble will brew before the dessert menus can be collected as it becomes clear which couple makes the most money. By the end they’ll be fighting over the bill just to show one another up.
Action: Jump in on the banter! These people have known each other since college and have secretly hated each other ever since. They’ll be eating out of your hand just so they can take a break from each other.
Happy holidays and good luck!