The evolution of office christmas Parties!
The outlandish, drunken office Christmas party used to be a staple of popular culture, namely television, books, and movies. Now it has dropped out of the imagination; the only example I can think of recently is Office Christmas Party, a goofily ridiculous comedy from 2016 starring Jennifer Anniston and TJ Miller. Are office holiday parties a thing of the past? Or have we simply stopped noticing?
During the 1950s, holiday office parties were a mixer saturated with alcohol and gushing with twelve months of pent-up frustrations at coworkers and bosses. Thanks to Mad Men, and its damning portrayal of office Christmas parties, we know the mixer was synonymous with reckless behavior: gin in the water coolers, clothes
strewn around the company halls, and people grappling with growing feelings of seclusion. It was the time when holiday parties played a significant role in climbing the corporate ladder. Career counselors advised ambitious men and women that skipping a holiday mixer was like ending your career: A boss spends thousands of dollars on food and booze and you don’t show? You might as well moon him on a Monday morning in the office!
By now, workers were getting tired of the seasonal obligations; at work, schools and family. Many wished they would have simply taken a day off rather than attend an obligated ‘off’ day at work. During the 1970s and 1980s, holiday office parties had become a slow, unhurried affair. There were exceptions, of course – drugs and orgies became a common thing. By the 90s, companies were now fearful of exposing themselves to hounds of regulators amidst the cash-strapped economy. The traditional office mixer had become outdated and immature.
As far as corporate logic goes, office Christmas parties are to foster and strengthen working relationships. Turns out, it’s far from its intended purpose. As per a 2007 Columbia University study, most employees stick to their existing pool of office friends during a mixer. A company function can rarely leave a lasting impact on office dynamics.
Today’s office Christmas parties aren’t
perceived by singles as an excuse to flirt, or get physical with people from other departments. Photocopying bare bottoms is about as salacious as parties get. Of course, you’ll still find a nude Santa gyrating on a table, and more, but it’s not like people are high on LSD and sledding down stairways. The event is a bit more than a stodgy, midday, corporate affair, where non-alcoholic mimosas are included. They’re kitschy and cute and sometimes, a little glamorous. The ubiquity of Ugly Christmas Sweaters has led to an uptick of Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties at work. The event has become on par with Black Friday or celebrating Halloween at work. These tacky garments are now being appropriated from their perpetual spot in the wardrobe to becoming the go-to garment for Office Christmas parties.