December 17th, 2010

Dater Unknown: ‘Tis the Season for Plus Ones

Happy Plus One Season, everyone. I hope this finds you well and enjoying the month-long buffet table of excess we like to call December. One of my favorite cherries on the top of our lush-iest month is the wedding of work events – the Holiday Office Party.

Holiday office parties and weddings have more in common than you may think:

The bride and groom can be substituted for an ego-centric CEO/President/Partner as the honoree. Both events are rife with over-consumption and the high probability that someone will do or say something they won’t want to remember – but everyone will be talking about it Monday and retell it on occasion hereafter. They both are breeding grounds for awkward, semi-sober conversations and they both have a sprinkling of religion. And lastly, holiday office parties and weddings both make you choose whether to check that “Plus One” box or go stag hoping for a hook-up.

The Holiday Office Party Plus One decision isn’t always easy.

Well, wait. If you are in a long-term relationship or are married, you have an Insta-Plus-One. Congrats. Now kindly take a seat.

If you are single, you have choices:

1. Is there someone single you have been eyeing at work? Go date-less and flirt your way to an awkward morning.
2. Like your co-workers and just want to have a good time at the Super Bowl of Encouraged Work Events? Go with a group and watch the hilarity unfold. Because, let me tell you, a holiday office party is the perfect storm when it comes to hilarity and its unfolding capabilities. And by hilarity, I namely mean inappropriateness.
3. Are your co-workers a snoozefest? Take a fun friend who isn’t socially awkward and has a tolerance that won’t incur career-limiting moves by proxy.

But what if you are newly dating someone? What’s the Plus One protocol on a nascent relationship? Is there a Plus One rule similar to health benefits at work? You must be with us for at least X number of weeks before we will claim you to the world?

When I received my Holiday Office Party invite, I knew I was going to ask the guy I am dating (we’ll call him “Dude”) to be my Plus One. I didn’t really think about how long we had been dating or if he would go. It was mostly one of those caveman thought processes: Me like him + Me like party = Me like him and party together.

A few days later Dude asked me if I wanted to accompany him to his party. I said sure. I asked him if he wanted to go to mine. He said sure. Then, a few days later I spoke to my mom, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: I am going to Dude’s holiday party this Saturday, but I plan to come over next week.
Mom: You are? Well, what are you going to wear?
Me: I think that one purple dress. You know which one I’m talking about? I may get a new one. I’m not sure.
Mom: Oh yes, I like the purple dress. Well, are you getting your hair done?
Me: Wait, what?
Mom: You know? Like “done” done. I love your hair like you had it at your sister’s wedding.
Me: You mean her wedding that was 10 years ago? No, I am just going to do my hair myself.
Mom: Well, I thought you said your new haircut made you look like Sally Field.
Me: Well, I was kind of kidding. Wait, does it?
Mom: No, honey, it’s darling.
Me: Oh God, that means it does. But whatever, the last thing I want to spend money on is someone who makes me look like a bridesmaid. Or utters the word tendril.
Mom: Fine. So, is he bringing you a corsage? You need to get him a bountineer, you know.
Me: Mom, please get back in the Delorean and return to 2010. We miss you.
Me: Sorry. But it’s just a party. And my company party is next weekend. I think it may be a little more casual.
Mom: Well, what are you going to wear to your party?!
Me: I guess the same dress.
Mom: Oh my gosh, [Insert my first and middle name], he will have already seen you in that!

Later that same day I RSVPed to my Holiday Office Party with an innocuous “+1 guest”. A little later one of the party coordinators stopped by and asked , “So who is this?” in a sing-songy voice.

“Oh, he’s someone I’m dating,” I said and smiled.

“You’re bringing someone to the holiday party?” asked a person two cubes over through the grey carpeted cube walls. “Who is he? Will this be your first date? Do you have a picture?”

“Umm, no. Wait, what was the question?” I said, smiling again, but beginning to sweat.

But before she could answer a third person just laughed and said, “Wow. You’re going to introduce a new dude to us?”

Let me cut to the chase. People will ask you questions. The questioners simply love gossip or love you, so answer however you feel comfortable – but be prepared for a few. Just don’t avoid the questions because that begs for more.

And therein lies the rule to whether to ask your new interest to your Holiday Office Party. Just do what you feel is right for you. There is no recommended number of weeks together or dates had or bases you’ve been to together. I’ve been invited to a guy’s holiday work party after going on one date with him (I went). I’ve also been dating someone for a few months and wasn’t invited to his holiday party and didn’t particularly want to invite him to mine [Spoiler Alert: We didn’t work out]. All you have to ask yourself is whether the thought of this person coming with you makes you happy. If it does, I recommend pulling the trigger.

Honestly, just enjoy it and be present for those moments that make the Holiday Office Party what it is. The hilariously awkward moments are a given. All you have to do is decide whether saying “guess you had to be there” will really mean “you should have been there” when recounting them to your new significant other.

— Dater Unknown


Blaire — Friday, December 17, 2010 5:52 pm

Holy Moly Boo-this is awesome. I don’t know how you come up with these phrases. Tendril? God SO SO FUNNY. I’m going to share with so many other people.

Giao — Friday, December 17, 2010 6:43 pm

You make me laugh! And glad to see that you are putting your talents to such great use…I hope one day you get to say, “Consulting, what consulting?” ;)

Hildy — Saturday, December 18, 2010 9:54 am

“Me like him and party together.” God, I love you! Tears. This entire post cracked me up.

Eileen — Saturday, December 18, 2010 11:54 am

I can SO relate to the Delorean comment to my parents..I love how she wanted you to get an updo and a corsage!

Gil — Monday, December 20, 2010 10:41 am

Will you accompany me to my office Holiday Party?? I want everyone to have a hilariously grand time, served with entertainment of masterful charm and wit, and your presence would insure just that!! Happy Holidays, Master Dater!!!

Alicia — Monday, December 20, 2010 8:46 pm

Holiday office party = wedding of work events = genius.

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