As far as your average office is concerned, Christmas started in early November. (No, not retail-Christmas, that’s in September). Those annoying email forwards are getting more festive, you’re sent the first virtual snowball fight (where’s the fun in that?) of the season and eager admin workers are subtly asking where last year’s box of tinsel has been stowed away. You’re secretly hoping said box of tinsel burnt in a big stationery fire, but that never really happens.
Mid-November, the poor sod whose job it is to plan the departmental Christmas do will commence with the necessary research. More emails. Emails about whether people would prefer a swanky bar with party planning ‘Christmas Elves’ (think girls in hotpants and Santa hats. Since when is Christmas about degrading outfits geared at an exclusively male city-worker market?) where they serve artichoke hearts and a lot of dishes containing salmon? Or would we prefer eating sandwiches on our desks whilst drinking wine out of plastic cups? Or how about a pub lunch? Oh hang on, some people don’t like pubs and don’t drink, maybe we shouldn’t do that, after all? Hm, they can stay in the Office then. Whilst the rest of us has to worry about those scantily clad elves getting too cold.
As with all democratic office decisions, after much debate (make sure you hit ‘reply all’ at all times, so your colleagues know just how witty and kerrazy you really are about artichokes and elves), aforementioned partyplanner will just go and book whichever venue they wanted to book in the first place, because those email discussions got too heated and, heck, someone’s got to make a decision or we’ll have nowhere to go.
Meanwhile back at the stationery cupboard, an overzealous temp will have located the box with the decade old tinsel in it. From a time when tinsel quite possibly contained an awful lot of led. But, at least the stuff is indestructible and will happily go round your desk three times, like a Boa Constrictor at a warehouse rave. With glosticks.
A kafuffle erupts. And it does not end until the last scrap of purple tinfoil has found its rightful place. The results vary. You learn that some people have better taste than others and that some people will never have a career in interior design.
Around this time, your friendly Health and Safety department will add their twopenniesworth, in an email with a decidedly witty title, preferably signed off with something like ‘Bah Humbug’. You learn that tinsel is best kept away from the human eye, that you should not stand on stepladders, ever and that you must not bring your gran’s 60s fairylights into the office. Eye injuries! Electric shock! Fire hazard! Nasty falls! Merry Christmas!
It is now early December. Someone (who will later deny all responsibility) decides that everyone must indulge in a spot of Secret Santa-ing. Great! We all just love buying five pound presents for someone we barely know or maybe not know at all! Too late, everyone’s name has already ended up in the manky old Quality Street tin that last emerged for the Grand National sweepstake. Once all the names are picked, the organiser realises that people who don’t celebrate Christmas at all were thrown into the tin. And they now want out. Cue frantic emailing. If you picked such and such, please come and see me immediately!. They usually don’t even bother taking the names of the affected persons off the list either. How thoughtful.
Before you know it, it’s time for the departmental Christmas lunch. Which you have to pay for yourself, of course. Twenty quid to have lunch with people you see for 35 hours a week, anyway, whether you like it or not. Twenty quid for some three-course meal you will never finish. Plus drinks. Drinks are bad. You find out a lot of things about colleagues you wish you didn’t know. You learn that some of them make for scary drunks. And that nobody really likes artichokes.