THERE IS absolutely no diplomatic way to say this: Christmas work parties are a minefield.
When I worked for a newspaper, there were two each year. One was the lunch for the department where I worked. The other was a night out for all the staff.
In a busy paper, which had a morning and evening edition, not to mind a Sunday one, a full advertising department, accountants, administration and printers (feeling old!) that was a lot of people. I never attended the whole staff party. The lunch was enough.
It wasn't that I didn't get on with the people with whom I worked. On the contrary, they were great. I just didn't eat with them every day. One year I found myself sitting right beside my boss. She was vegetarian. I ordered the vegetarian meal, for fear of putting her off her food.
But at least with a Christmas lunch, there is less chance of somebody drinking too much and letting everyone know exactly what they think.
There is also less chance of a wardrobe malfunction.
This, admittedly, is one which more women than men, fall foul. Because there is a direct link between the amount of effort you put into your outfit and what can go wrong on the night.
A good friend had her Christmas 'do' last week. She wore a smart, sassy trouser suit with heels. She felt great. Until, as she was walking into the restaurant with her colleagues, one of them asked her what the black lacy thing was, poking out of the end of a trouser leg.
Bending down, she pulled out a pair of black lacy undies. Not the ones that she'd been wearing. But a pair that had managed to go through the wash with the trousers, and become entangled. She hadn't noticed them as they slowly worked their way down a leg.
I had a similar recent near miss. At my book club Christmas night out, we gathered in a local gastro pub. The place buzzed with huge groups of twenty-somethings, all attending seasonal parties. After the meal, I excused myself and headed for the loos, tucked away at the back of the dining area.
Before I came back, I took a moment to check my makeup (intact), my hair (passable) and my clothes. I was wearing a favourite black and white, knee-skimming floaty skirt. Wintery, yet incredibly light to wear.
I re-emerged into the tiny area that separates the loos from the restaurant, pushed open the door to walk out, and found myself being yanked back by the arm.
I stared, stunned, at the young woman doing the yanking.
'Your skirt,' she whispered, pointing. I reached around, to discover I'd tucked my floaty skirt into my tights.
'Thanks,' I muttered, tugging it out. I tried not to look mortified. She shrugged.
I walked down through the restaurant, now feeling incredibly self conscious. At a long table near the door, I caught the woman's eye. Would I be the butt of a joke - no pun intended - shared over their meal, I wondered? But nobody else even glanced in my direction. She gave me a discreet wink.
Then I remembered: season of goodwill to all men.
Happy Christmas from Dublin, for those who celebrate. And for those who don't, here's hoping you enjoy some good times with family and friends over the holidays.
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