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Five tips for surviving holiday parties

Make it to New Year's relatively unscathed

Credit: sxc.hu, Steve Woods photo

The holiday season is quickly drawing near, bringing with it the promise of nonstop parties. From work-related functions to revels with friends and family, holiday celebrations are a chance to unwind and enjoy ourselves at the end of a long year. But they can also present a myriad of opportunities for awkwardness and embarrassment, whether it’s unexpected advances from a coworker you’d previously understood to be straight, polite inquiries about your nonexistent wife and children or simply not realizing how strong the eggnog is until it’s too late.

Here are some simple steps to make sure you make it through all the way to New Year’s relatively unscathed.

Dress to impress.
Think carefully about what you are going to wear out. Not to say you don’t the rest of the year, but this is a special time and one that is likely to be well documented. The impulse is often to outdress everyone else, thus ensuring admiration from the other holiday revellers. But it’s also important to be yourself. If your outfit looks like you’ve put some thought in, you will show you respect the people hosting the party, but the more comfortable you are in your clothes the more comfortable you will be for the night.

You booze, you lose.
Drinking during the holiday season is almost as unavoidable as sweating during the summertime, but there is a line between getting into the festive spirit and unintentionally becoming the evening’s entertainment. “Don’t overdrink” seems like a simple rule but it can be difficult to follow so prepare yourself from the outset. Try having a big dinner at home before you go out to slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Accept the first drink upon arrival, but stop and think before accepting any subsequent drink: Do you really need another? Drink in moderation and you’ll be the one who remembers all the scandal well enough to gossip about it the morning after.

Beware the blues.
The strain of the holidays can bring out emotions in people that under normal circumstances remain safely buried. While it’s natural to pause and reflect at this time of year, don’t impose your maudlin ramblings on other partygoers. Conversely don’t feel obliged to stay and listen to other’s sloppy sentimentality if you’re not genuinely interested. Excuse yourself politely and move on to someone more cheerful.

Keep an eye out for mistletoe. Lust is another emotion likely to run high during the festive season, which can lead to some sticky situations when it comes to work parties. If the gentleman from accounting traps you in a corner and suggests that you slip off somewhere for a private drink together, consider whether it’s worth getting into his stocking. Would you jump at the chance any other time of year? If the answer is yes then go for it. There’ll be fewer people in the office over the holidays to gossip about how they saw you leaving together. If not tell him you’re flattered but that he’s not on your holiday wish list. Be polite but firm.

Pace yourself. Maintaining a fresh face over the holidays can be a challenge, with the number of parties, functions and get-togethers during the season rivalled only by Pride week. To keep up your stamina choose which parties are really worth going to and skip the rest. It’s much better to show off your bright eyes and dazzling wit at a few select events than to show up to every possible party from a grand gala to the local coffee chain’s free peppermint latte day looking like a haggard monster with nothing clever to say. Pick parties being thrown by close friends or events where you think the most interesting people will be. After all the holidays can be a great time to meet new lovers and friends.