Bar Tab: Holiday party survival guide

Bar Tab Bad Santa

In this file photo provided by Columbia Tristar, Billy Bob Thornton is shown in the movie "Bad Santa." Do watch this movie. Don't watch it in the presence of children. (AP Photo/Columbia TriStar, File)

‘Tis the season to be social. Office holiday party, family gathering or your friend’s dinner party, chances are, you are attending a holiday event involving drinking in the near future. After a decade of professional imbibing, I consider myself a bit of an expert on the topic and thought it only right to share some hard-won knowledge. So, yeah, this week’s Bar Tab column is my list of dos and don’ts for celebrating with coworkers, family and friends during the hectic, joyous and, let’s be honest, often stressful holiday season. Cheers!

Do have a drink with your boss at the office holiday party: If your boss offers, accept and order the same as whatever she or he is drinking, be it cocktail, wine, beer, eggnog, etc. Consume the beverage at the same pace as your boss while telling her or him how rewarding the past year has been at the company. Laugh at any and all attempts at jokes.

Don’t have three drinks with your boss at the office holiday party: If while in the middle of a conversation that has all the markings of advancing your career or that simply offers no easy exit, The Boss goes in for a second round and asks you to join, accept. Politely excuse yourself, though, before the third round. Three drinks during a single discussion will likely result in drunkenness and perhaps blowing any goodwill created during rounds one and two.

Do go drinking with your uncles: Family gatherings are great, especially when permitted after the big meal to go visit the local pub with your favorite relatives. These always seem to be uncles who have the drinking stamina of seasoned oxen. These guys graciously insist on paying for every single round while telling you a bunch of hilariously inappropriate stories until last call.

Don’t go drinking with your uncles and expect to accomplish anything the next day: Your uncles will likely have finished a round of golf and consumed several Bloody Marys plus a case of beer each before you even crawl out of bed the next day; which you will spend in a fog of hurt, shame and regret.

Do bring a bottle of wine to your friend’s dinner party: Arriving at your friend’s house with a smartly selected bottle of wine - this can be accomplished in about five minutes for $20 at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits - says you are sophisticated and here to have a good time.

Don't bring a handle of vodka to your friend's dinner party: Arriving at your friend’s house with a handle of vodka - especially one purchased from the discount aisle of the liquor store - says you are tacky and here to get trashed. Incidentally, bringing nothing but a side dish says you are cheap and not to be trusted.

Do avoid drinking and driving: If you are attending any kind of party or family gathering during the holidays you are most likely going to drink more than the driving limit and need to plan ahead - even it means agreeing to car pool with the creepy guy who works in IT. Seriously, call a cab, book a hotel room, or, from Dec. 20 to Jan. 1, take advantage of Tow to Go by calling (855) 286-9246; more info.

Don’t crash on the sofa: Regardless of how good your relationship is with your boss, in-laws or the couple that lives down the street, they probably don’t want to find you in the fetal position the next morning on their sofa.

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013 Wade Tatangelo created what would eventually be called Bar Tab while working as a correspondent for the Herald-Tribune in 2003. He would continue writing about bars for Maxim, Tampa Bay Times, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, OC (Calif.) Weekly and The Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune as a staff writer in 2013 and has happily returned to writing our weekly column Bar Tab. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: December 11, 2013
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