It's Your Party and I'll Stay Home If I Want To
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Are people obligated to attend their spouse's office Christmas party? My husband expects me to go to his (I don't make him go to mine), and I REALLY don't want to go. It's just one more thing on my already overscheduled holiday calendar.
I don't really know the people there and have little in common with them. Plus, most office parties are completely boring and I kind of resent forking out for a babysitter just so I can hang out with people I don't know and be bored out of my mind. I want to reclaim some of the holiday season for myself and my family instead of trying to fulfill society's expectations.
Can a person get out of going to these parties without causing a fuss or damaging a career?
Don't Make Me Party,
Dear Don't Make Me Party,
You know, if you hate office Christmas parties so much, maybe you should have married someone Jewish. Then the two of you could stay at home and make latkes while the rest of the office got their egg nog on. But you didn't think of that, did you? No, you had to marry for "love" instead. You reap what you sow, baby! (That's the New Testament, by the way.)
Personally, I don't know anyone who enjoys her spouse's holiday parties. Because unless you're friends with the people there or have a mad crush on your spouse's co-worker, it is just a work event. With wine. That you can't drink with abandon because it's a work event.
And yet in our society it's expected that people who work together every day and have to get along in exchange for money and health insurance get together and be merry. Fortunately the expectation has been holding steady at "once a year" for a while now. Mostly. Some companies have summer barbecues and spring cruises and the September key parties. Count your blessings.
Every company has a different party culture and if your husband says that your attendance is important, do it. Wave the team flag, make small talk. You don't want him to be the only one there without his trophy wife.
But have some ground rules. Commit to a time limit, ninety minutes perhaps, and have a safe word if he forgets to start saying good byes after that time. In my experience "you promised no more than ninety minutes in this hell hole and it's already been eighty five and you haven't even started good-nighting these geezers yet!" doesn't work too well. For one, it takes a long time to say, so you're wasting valuable time and also apparently other people can hear you when you speak. I don't know what that's about.
Despite this bad news of mandatory attendance, there is a glimmer of holiday hope. Because you can't go to a party without a mani/pedi/new hair cut and a full body massage. Go ahead and schedule those appointments now. They'll go a long way to putting you in a party mood.
Holiday background photo via Shutterstock.