December is looming, which means the office Christmas party season, if it isn't already well underway, is about to land upon us with its full, traditional, liver-crushing force.
Yes, that potentially career-threatening mix of (a) alcohol-fuelled social interaction and (b) the people you have to continue to work with, is here again. Deck the frikkin' halls indeed.
Meanwhile, on an - at first - seemingly unrelated front, there's been a lot of PC talk going on this year - PC, as in political correctness I mean, rather than anything to do with computers. Quite apart from the whole Paul Henry/Governor-General/Indian-lady-with-the-scatologically-funny-name thing and just about every time Michael Laws opens his mouth, it seems to me there has been a bit of a resurgence in the good old conservative version of political correctness.
It may just be me, but 2010 seems to have thrown up a lot of discussion about what is correct and proper in society these days.
When is a New Zealander a New Zealander? What words are not okay on television? There's been a whole bunch of stuff, I reckon, that heralds a more conservative approach to defining right and wrong behaviours in good old Aotearoa.
I think it has something to do with living under a National government.
If I am correct and there is this new mindset in operation, then we clearly need to look at this in regards to appropriate versus inappropriate behaviour when it comes to the office Christmas party, because it's bad enough getting smashed and making an idiot out of yourself in front of the boss/staff without also incurring the wrath of the rest of society along the way.
Cleavage, for example, is potentially a burning Christmas party issue. How much cleavage is too much to expose in what is, essentially, an extension of the workplace except with drinks and nibbles? In the case of hairy, gold-chain-wearing, barrel-chested men, obviously any cleavage is too much. But when it comes to the fairer sex the issue is much less cut and dried.
Because I am a man, and I live in Man World, I can safely say that we generally quite like boobies. Cleavage, for us, is usually a good thing. This is why, from time to time, we can't help but look down when we should be looking up. Sorry, that's just the way we're genetically wired.
But there is a point at which cleavage becomes way too much cleavage and even the most heterosexual of men goes "whoa, put them away, love". That, I would argue, is a good thing to be aware of when it comes to the office Christmas party.
So ladies, please keep in mind that the guy you're giving an eyeful to on the dance floor this December is also the guy you'll see at the snack machine come mid January. A modicum of cleavage would be my recommendation in these PC times - just to be on the safe side.
Drinking is, of course, a part of any office Christmas party. That's how we roll, here in binge-drinking New Zealand. But I'd like to think that most of us are well aware of the additional costs of binge drinking at the office Christmas party - most of which are to do with career retardation.
But alcohol is alcohol and sometimes it takes control of us before we realise we are hammered and jabbering like a buffoon. Therefore, before we neck those six glasses of free sauvignon blanc and are telling the boss he has the management skills of a slug and the personality to match, we need to enlist a team of like-minded and trustworthy fellow employees to watch our back and extricate us if we are obviously the Chosen One. Because you cannot predict whom the Pissed Fairy will visit at any given office Christmas party - and next year it might be you.
The office Christmas party is a minefield at the best of times, let alone in these politically correct times. There are so, so many ways the whole thing can go tragically wrong - misreading the vibe you're getting off the tipsy junior office hottie, cracking the wrong joke to/about the IT guy, running naked about the room with a flaming memo clenched between your butt-cheeks, falling asleep under the buffet table ...
So I guess, at the end of the day, the important thing is to try desperately not to offend anyone, especially if they have the power to end your working life in these recessionary times.
Apart from that, have a rocking good Christmas.