I guess it should have not been so shocking that after our initial office Christmas party notice went out, another followed almost immediately. Apparently the design department in London has a precedent for not wanting to mix with the rest of the office riff raff so we have our own, individual department Christmas party as well. Hmmm. I can see why the rest of the site doesn't like us. That and our free cereal and fruit service. Plus the fancy coffee machines. Plus the free breakfast every Friday. And other things. Wow, they have a lot of reasons not to like us. I wouldn't like us if I were an outsider either.
Anyway, the first office party began right after I came back from the States for Thanksgiving. I had two weeks in London and those two weeks had two office parties. Perfect timing. Some might say that they planned the parties just so I could make it...I would not be one of those people.
The first party was for the whole site. All departments under one roof for literally unlimited booze and a few catered goodies. The day started off with the office "Santa" (one of the heads of marketing, so I have learned), coming around to our desks and delivering some Christmas cheer:
Yes you are seeing that right. Shots of Jameson whisky on a tinsel-covered cart. Ho ho ho and a Merry Christmas to you all!
This was just the beginning of a booze fueled night. Another hour or so later (and there was free booze in design already before Santa came because the Ginger was leaving and therefore a hasty farewell do was thrown together), we were herded outside to load onto no less than four double decker buses that were to take us to our party venue:
Being locked away in Design all the time, I didn't recognize 85% of the people standing outside with me. Design is maybe 100 people of a 250 person site, but some reason, that doesn't mean I'll know who people are. I have a feeling people from other UK sites might have been joining us, because the numbers simply do not add up.
In any case we loaded onto the buses and 45 minutes later, arrived at our party venue: Shoreditch House. We were told on the invitations to bring our swim suits. There was in fact a heated outdoor pool there. I didn't stay long enough to find out, but I heard rumors the next week that people got drunk enough to go in. No thanks; it was surprisingly cold that night.
The venue itself (which I have no pictures of) was really nice - we were on the top floor in a penthouse with a roaring fire in the middle of it. Booze was served all-you-can-drink style starting off with bubbly, then white wine and red wine, then beers, then tables full of all of the above so you could just grab what you wanted without harassing any of the staff. You could also pay at the bar and get something stronger, should that be your thing.
Assumedly learning the lessons from our design gathering a month or so ago, catered food came out constantly, though the variety was slow in coming. We had things like oven baked flatbread pizzas, cold meat terrines, then more real meal things as the party went on - bowls of fish and chips, hot pureed soups, even some fried cheese, things of that nature. I guess they wanted to make sure people had enough to eat with their drink this time. I still didn't do a good enough job. No hangover the next morning, but way too much free booze.
Waking up with regrets and swearing to myself I would never do such a thing again, I braced myself for our second holiday party the following week. This was going to be just our Design department, which could either be way cooler or way worse, depending how you looked at it.
In any case the party was being held at the office, all the money going towards the booze and plentiful food that they also provided. I guess they really did learn the lesson hard from the design gathering.
It started off less early than the previous party but still earlier than strictly necessary. Loud Christmas carols started blaring at 3:30pm and we were forced to stop working because it was Christmastime and we should celebrate.
Once again there was unlimited free booze from our accounts. They stayed with the bubbly, white wine, red wine, and beer combination. At least they had juice. And an extreme amount of food.
Our catering service did themselves a solid and we were plied with great and curious finger foods - chicken fingers with bbq and ranch sauces, pastry cups filled with cream and salmon, bacon wrapped sausages, egg quiches, raw veggies with hummus and chive dips, and bowls and bowls of snack foods like rice cracker mix, pub nuts, chips (or crisps, as you would say here), and others. Snackers heaven.
Needless to say people got even more drunk at this party than the last one (me excluded, as I was keeping to my strict "never again" principle). We have a new Xbox in the office as part of our partnership and as the night went on, the dancing got worse:
Notice the stools that have been turned upside down to hold more booze. Someone was drunk enough to think we were running out of drink (which was not the case) and went down to the local grocery store to replenish our supplies. Jaegar was introduced. Needless to say many people did not come into the office the next day (we have a horrible habit of celebrating all of our parties on Thursdays...thinking that somehow, people will still work the following day...right).
But I did myself a great one and kept the booze at a minimum, going home with no regrets.
Double parties, double trouble. I am glad to have kept myself from trouble the second time.
I can see how working here over the years may in fact be a detriment to my health. Good to be here while I'm young. ;)