Even the most intolerant amongst us should possess the social skills that, for eight hours a day, allow us to rise above the character flaws of our colleagues and smile politely as they recount yet another "crazy weekend." The problem arises when we are forced against our will to spend an evening of 'fun' with these people. Sure it's not obligatory, but the stigmatisation you will receive for failing to embrace the office party is almost worse than the party itself.
The torment of the office party will be dragged out for the longest time possible by Janet (a single, socially inept creature with wiry hair and an almost endless supply of crazy anecdotes about her time spent travelling across the Yorkshire dales). For Janet, the office party is the highlight of her social calendar. It is the ambassador’s party, the royal wedding, and the school disco rolled into one. Her excitement buzzes through the office like static on an electricity sub-station. Each day will begin with the same question, “Have you decided what you’ll be wearing yet?” Instead of telling her that, quite frankly, if she doesn’t shut the hell up, you’ll be wearing her skin like a bathing suit, you politely reply that you, “haven’t really thought about it yet.” This cruel ceremony will continue until Janet either explodes in a shower of entrails and happiness, or the moving of time takes pity on you and allows the special day to arrive.
Not all aspects of the office party are negative. On the day of the party, you will usually be allowed to leave early in order to 'get ready.' This is a great opportunity to prime your soul for the onslaught that is about to commence. It is the time for a comforting dram of whisky before you face the social firing squad of your drunken colleagues. Use this time wisely, for the next eight hours you will have to maintain an air of friendliness and joviality, and for this reason, will be taking an extended vacation from your true personality.
Don't be fooled by the promise of free drink. Although the drink will cost you no money, there is a hidden price that must be paid. By setting up a bar tab, the company is saving on professional entertainment and banking on the drunken antics of a naive employee to satisfy the blood lust of the social vultures that you work with. Your dignity and reputation are not for hire, so don't make the mistake of drinking too much from this poisoned chalice. Instead, capitalise on your bosses "drinking prowess" and spur them on to greater and greater levels of intoxication. With a bit of patience and a dash of luck, it won't be long until they are revealing embarrassing truths that can be wheeled out whenever they decide to wave the P45s about.
At the end of the evening avoid the temptation to join them in going on to a nightclub. Not only may you see people who will associate you with these desperate, balding, middle aged, lechers, but there will also be increasing pressure to act like a teenage boy drunk on testosterone. Return home instead and pour yourself a drink (you've earned it), fire up the cigarette that you ensured people you didn't smoke (Judas!), and finally bask in the happy knowledge that now you have showed your face at one, you will never need go to another.