I used to get so excited for our work Christmas parties. Back in the day when I was the head designer for an Australian fashion company, we had an exceptional year in sales. Our boss chartered a couple of planes and flew us to Russell Crowe’s home in Coffs Harbour. We were given no details about the event. Just turn up at the office at 5am… yes, 5am and bring shoes that we didn’t mind getting dirty.
The excitement of not knowing what we were doing or where we were going was fantastic. We cheered when we saw the planes and had a thousand guesses of where we were flying. Many of us pictured some kind of exotic retreat, a bougie getaway, drinks galore. We couldn’t have been more wrong. The ‘shoes you didn’t mind getting dirty’ were for white water rafting. As you could imagine, no one was dressed appropriately for the occasion. Silk dresses and our Christmas party attire was soon stripped down as most of us chose to bare our undies rather than ruin our dresses. Life jackets providing adequate modesty. A sign of true dedication to fashion!
Our stomachs were lined with bacon and egg sandwiches and there were strict rules of no drinking until the rafting was over. Make up ran down the faces of most girls who had been dunked, splashed, flipped and tumbled over the river currents and of course none of us brought towels to the office Christmas party.
Looking worse for wear, spirits remained high and we were lucky and mostly relieved the party was in a private location back at the Crowe ranch. There, in true Christmas spirit, the drinks flowed and the bad dancing and singing commenced.
Then things changed and for six years I was with a Swedish company based in China. Our Christmas was a far cry from The Australian/Kiwi debauchery I had grown to know and love each silly season.
We celebrated Santa Lucia on the 13th of December, where a staff member dressed up and carried a candle through the offices handing out cookies. Now remember, this was literally the second largest retailer in the world and we got a cookie and a few songs sung in Swedish. So next time you think your boss is stingy or that Christmas bonus didn’t add up, just remember that it could be an old, dry, cookie. The type that if you took a bite and then spoke, crumbs powdered the faces of those near you. I just longed for a BBQ and some banter. Nice is not a feeling I have really resonated with Christmas in New Zealand. I would say more chaotic, fun and even competitive with Christmas sports which my family love to play.
I did, however, witness a Christmas party last week for accountants and dare I say it… they didn’t even finish their wine or bar tab! Was I the only one who didn’t think this was a possibility? Are accountants strange? Or perhaps I had a drinking problem? In all those years I had been away, did Kiwis become classy?
Now back home for Christmas, we don’t have the excitement of a big Christmas party for Te Kaupapa. Our business is literally two people and we live with each other. I’m going to taking advantage of a few cocktails and some stellar food at a local restaurant.
It’s been many years since having a Christmas party here and perhaps it’s a good opportunity to observe the new norm. I remember those old TV ads: “where is that next drink taking you” or the classic “Dennis from accounts” story. That won’t be happening at our Christmas-ish party this year!
However you celebrate your company Christmas party, just remember: be safe, get a sober driver and don’t look too disappointed when you get the worst gift exchange present again this year.
Stay classy this Christmas.