Get yourself a free Christmas party

It takes two to tango and at least two to party. And, of course, now’s the season of big tables in restaurants full of large groups of inebriated people sharing bonhomie.

All firms should have Christmas dos. After being cooped up in the place of work for the last twelve months, loyal staff need to let their hair down and act totally irresponsibly during work’s time for a least one day in the year. But, and it seems to happen every year, you’ll open the papers to read advice from worthies giving the rules for Christmas and how not to offend people or hurt yourself. I’ve been advised not to hang mistletoe in the work place because of the risk of sexual harassment, not to dance on the desks (because of the risk of staple stabs?) and not to photocopy body parts – which, if you don’t mind, I’ll leave to your imagination.

As a result there’re are fewer than ever parties in the actual office and it’s left to hotels and restaurants to be the domain of such dos, where half the population spend an evening with others with whom they’d never normally choose to socialise.

But what, I hear you ask, about the self-employed singletons? Well I frequently ask it. How do those, who work on their own, party?

You could pull a Christmas cracker on your own but it somehow lacks the anticipation and excitement you experience when there’s someone on the other end, with a 50% chance of getting the big bit (that’s 50% unless you know the secret cracker pull – contact me at hello@oldfieldspantry.co.uk or twitter @eatoldfields for details).

And I’m sure you’d feel there’s something missing if sitting on your own wearing a paper hat with nobody taking the mick out of you.

It’s hard enough for the two-employee companies but some make a pretty good stab of it. In my first restaurant in Barnard Castle, every December we entertained a normally serious-looking accountant and his secretary. They’d sit opposite each other with paper streamers dangling from their cracker-sourced party hats, order turkey and Christmas pudding and merrily drink themselves into a festive stupor.

We see such twosomes in Durham. But at least, if they wished, two can partake in the time-honoured ritual of drinking too much then slagging each other off before trying to seduce each other.

So what can the single self-employed do?

Some time ago a single builder mate and I came up with the idea of using other people’s parties; soughting out those hotels and restaurants where corporate organisations bring people together just once a year; allowing them out of their cubicles or from the shop floor, blinking through their pale-coloured skin as they become accustomed to the light. Because of the way they’re worked, you can be sure that nobody knows everyone in the room or around the table and all you have to do is pass yourself off as recently-arrived George from the post room somewhere, vaguely, “down south”.

Once you’re in, the advantages are many. First, you get to have an office party. Second, if the company’s paying, you might get away without paying for it. Third, you may make a few useful contacts along the way; for business and, if you’re lucky, pleasure. And fourth, you’re probably never going to see any of them ever again so you can be totally irresponsible and get away with being absolutely outrageous.

Now that’s my type of Christmas party.

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