Christmas lights have been strung up, bedecking town halls and cities up and down the country. Late night shoppers will bustle and march their way in and out of shops. The tolling bell will ring out across the land as corporations and offices will be once again hosting their Christmas parties. This age-old practice was on hiatus during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. People could not spend Christmas day with their closest family members, let alone share a questionable Christmas dinner the week before with an array of colleagues, senior management, company Directors and Dave from accounts. Questionable, of course, because the office-Christmas-party is now synonymous with toe-curling embarrassing stories and even post-party dismissals. According to one study by Afterdrink.com, “a whopping one in ten people had been fired or disciplined at work after their office party antics.” How very awkward.
At Dorset Adventure Park, we host adult party packages as well as team building packages. This Dorset day out may just save you and your whole department from toe-curling shame, second-hand embarrassment, mortification, humiliation and the hangover-from-hell-because-my-boss-saw-me-so-horrendously-drunk etc etc. At this Water Park, any silliness is designed and – crucially- copacetic. If anyone falls over, it’s because you are all happily, hilariously sliding your way through an amazing mud trail, an obstacle course and a Wibit inflatable assault course, atop a lake. It will not be because someone from the litigation department brought everyone tequila slammers, before promptly vomiting into their shoes. Nor, will someone in a pinstripe suit, suddenly take a notion to ‘drop it like it’s hot’, pole dance or attempt to reenact the gymnastics routine they watched during the summer Olympics, whilst they sat on their sofa eating pringles at the time.
The same study by Afterdrink.com made the shocking declaration that of the 9% of the working population who find themselves facing disciplinary action or dismissal after an office Christmas party, “21% claimed it was due to the fact they got into a physical fight with a colleague or boss.” Office Christmas parties have become the occasion when companies will suddenly provide an open bar, ply their employees with alcohol to ‘blow off steam’ after working so hard all year and attempt to capture the merry glow of Christmas festivities through cocktails. In any non-work environment, a party providing the option and abundance of alcohol is considered so normal, that even Jesus was said to turn water into wine at a shin-dig. As Christmas is supposed to celebrate His birthday, letting the water run with wine might seem like a great idea.
However, as a work party is not an ordinary party, because you might not all be friends normally, people tend to feel more anxious and drink more to relax. Or, they have been working so hard that they again, drink more to relax and get into the party spirit with…party spirits. There are some very, very lucky and rare people in this world who can get away with drinking too much and not embarrassing themselves. Like some glistening unicorn, they may breeze back into your office on a Monday morning bright-eyed, bushy tailed and free of any taint of humiliation. Instead of alcohol and a dodgy disco, a better, healthier, happier and far more effective way to show appreciation to your colleagues, a chance to bond and allow them to release stress, would be to book a company day out at somewhere like Dorset Adventure Park. Bouncing across an inflatable obstacle course, atop a lake, overlooked by a fairytale castle offers everyone a good time and a good memory.
However, I thought it only prudent to provide some anecdotal examples of the perils of the office party. I quizzed family, friends and the internet and Lo’ the tales were plentiful. All names, identities and businesses have been removed to save modesty, reputation and a little dignity. Here are a few personal favourites to enjoy:
- “After the company made the mistake of providing endless free beer on tap, one employee broke her arm after trying to run away at the end of the night with stolen crates of beer.”
- “At the same Christmas party, someone wrote the name of an unpopular manager in permanent marker, across the company sign, reading something along the lines of: “’X’ IS A *Insert swear word here*”
- “The worst experience I had was the Christmas Party of 2019, when the firm wrote their own lyrics to a song. The Partners all performed it on stage and we had to listen to it through our silent-disco headphones. It had many verses and the Chief Executive was ‘dancing’ in the front.”
- “A friend was in love with one of her senior colleagues, who had shown no sign of liking her back. At last year’s Christmas party, she was REALLY drunk and plucked up the courage to tell him, saying: ‘I’m really nervous to tell you this, I know this might be a shock but I’m in love with you.’ “He replied: ‘I know, you told me at last year’s Christmas party.’”
- “At my office party at my old company, the CEO thought it would be a fun party game to have everyone submit an embarrassing childhood story ahead of time — no one knew why, but we all did it. Then at the party he had them all printed on pieces of paper, and he had people read them aloud and guess whose story it was. It was incredibly awkward and probably the worst work-party game of all time.”
- “My boss made out with a mop.”
- “I broke the photocopier when I sat on it.”
- “My boss suddenly farted really loudly. We all pretended not to notice and still hope for his sake that he doesn’t remember it.”
- “I kissed someone. I don’t know who. There were only my work colleagues at the Christmas party.”
- “I had a really awkward moment at a Christmas party when one colleague said to me, “oh my gosh, ‘X’ has got such a terrible present from their Secret Santa. But at least it’s not as bad as someone being so lazy that they just wrapped a box of £5 chocolates from the supermarket!” I had just handed him my present- a wrapped box of £5 chocolates from the supermarket.”
- “I was the event planner for our company’s regional Christmas party. It was a great evening aboard an old steam train with a Father Christmas handing out presents and lots of impromptu caroling. Everyone had a brilliant time. Everyone except for me, when I was called into the Senior Partner’s office the next week to explain there had, in fact, not been a mistake with the bill and that, yes, the department had spent that much on an open bar. In four hours.”
Now, if you go on your merry way to a traditional office Christmas party, we quite understand. The idea of an epic party is endlessly alluring. However, if afterwards you need to rebuild some corporate bridges and are looking for things to do, we recommend a day spent at Dorset Adventure Park. An outside water park with fresh air and fun activities, including a mud run and our own water world, might reset the office dynamic. We offer a theme park with a difference, something special and a total wipeout experience that doesn’t include booze and does include a lot of laughter, water, mud and good wholesome fun. If you are interested in a day’s adventure park team building, have a look at the best team building day out in Dorset. Book now for a company day out this Spring: https://www.dorsetadventurepark.com/team-building-package/
Words by Olivia Lowry