- The Washington Times - Monday, December 9, 2002

Uh-oh, it's that time of year again.
The office Christmas party will soon spring to life in workplaces around the nation, combining business, pleasure, politics, potato chips and mistletoe for better or worse amid cubicles and copying machines.
The Christmas party is universal in one aspect: It tends to give license to licentiousness.
British researchers said Friday that 2.3 million people "make fools of themselves every year at their firm's Christmas party." And that's just in England.
Analysts with London-based IFA Momentum Financial Services surveyed 1,200 persons, then analyzed national workplace data to extrapolate that Britain's total office party-going population would exceed 13 million in the next few weeks.
Just less than half of those surveyed admitted to "dancing inappropriately" at an office celebration, one-third had kissed a coworker and almost one-fourth had drunk too much and become significantly indisposed in public.
One in five were actually rude to their boss, and nearly that many revealed they had broken company property in the heat of the moment. An estimated 92,000 wags admitted to photocopying a body part.
Employees have a specific experiences in mind, however, when they picture the office party of their dreams.
Cleveland-based event organizer Party 411 surveyed its customers and found 86 percent felt spouses and significant others should be invited to the office holiday bash. Eighty-eight percent said they liked co-workers enough to socialize with them.
Even if Bing Crosby is singing "White Christmas" from a loudspeaker somewhere, the holiday party can prove a tricky business. It's so tricky that the U.S. Department of Labor offers a stern, nine-point advisory for employers who want to keep the revels in check and avoid alcohol-related lawsuits.
"Avoid serving lots of salty, greasy or sweet foods, which tend to make people thirsty," the DOL notes, and "serve none for the road."
More than one-quarter said alcohol should not be served, and 89 percent said fruitcake be banned altogether. Almost 90 percent wanted the party out of the office, and another 85 percent said that monetary bonuses should be delivered to the recipient privately rather than in a high-profile event.
The respondents were divided 50-50 over interoffice caroling contests, open bars and whether the party should take place on a Friday or Saturday night.
Is the office Christmas party destined to fade into obscurity? Not likely.
A new survey of human-resource specialists from New York City-based Vault, a career advisory company, found 80 percent of businesses planned to foot the bill for a Christmas party this year.
Fifty-five percent said they would spend the same or less this year on the event.
And do the planners attend their own parties? Indeed: 88 percent said they planned to go.
Still, the typical holiday party presents social challenges to workers thrown together minus daily working protocols.
Technology News Now magazine queried readers to find that "techies," those often anonymous folks who run the company computer system, were the biggest wallflowers at the Christmas party. Accountants placed a close second.
And the most popular guests? Receptionists.

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