|Steve, you don't even work here.|
Well break out your Santa hats and jingly earrings, ‘tis the season for Christmas functions! And golly, how delightful Christmas functions can be for us hospo brothers and sisters. But with Christmas functions, there is a sad pattern that stubbornly keeps emerging year after year. Amongst the jolly revellers there is always – at least one – Christmas party wanker. There is always one nasal woman who loudly whines about the disappointing set menu. There is always one man who can’t handle his cab sav and starts slurring about Palestinian politics. There is always one socially-challenged muppet who mistakes other customers for waitresses and tries to order drinks off some innocent lady on her way to the bathroom.
There is always one Whine Loving arsehole that spoils it for everybody, and makes the restaurant/bar staff go from happy-to-help-you-celebrate, to happy-to-poison-your-entire-office’s-puddings.
If you’re a Christmas party novice and would like to know how to avoid making yourself look like a gigantic dipshit and receiving a big clump of spit in your peppermint crisp, here’s the Fool Critic’s guide to not being That Christmas Party Wanker at restaurants and bars.
Set menus are set
If you’re attending a sit-down function, especially for a group well-over 15 people, your organiser or host has probably selected a set menu for your party. Ideally, they would have touched base with their guests and informed the establishment of any dietary requirements. If they have not, that is not your waiter’s fault.
So please, when you are given a set menu or function menu, don’t scan the items, sniff, and demand of the nearest waitress, “Is this the menu?” or something to that effect. The wait-staff are not out to get you – they didn’t choose the menu for you, they want you to like your food, and they have no time to deal with your tantrums. Take it up with your host/organiser – they are usually the person restaurant staff look to as a point of contact anyway. And what happens if you just don’t like some of the items on offer?
That’s too fucking bad. You’re at a Christmas function somebody else has organised. Suck it up. You may be able to arrange an alternative dish at the last minute if you are polite enough about it. But if you lie about allergies or dietary requirements because you don’t like parsley, it will come back to bite you on the arse. I once had a woman who after skimming the set menu insisted that she was vegan, everybody knows she’s vegan, why weren’t there vegan options on the set menu, GOD. After much haranguing with the chefs I managed to get her a replacement entrée and main. But when her baked figs arrived, she stared longingly at her neighbour’s seafood entrée and said to me, “Oh, I can eat prawns…” Guess what she didn’t get?
Handle your damn alcohol
Sure, Christmas parties are precisely the time of year to get absolutely munted on the company dollar. Let your hair down, cut loose, you’ve earned it, blah, blah, blah. Unfortunately, alcohol makes many an idiot forget he’s an idiot.
People who cannot handle their alcohol are not only a pain in the arse, they are pathetic. Do you want that cute waitress shaking her head with pity as you burst into tears and moan about being forever alone? Do you want to finish vomiting in the urinal, only to come face-to-face with the burly bartender who is just itching to throw you out? Do you want that crisp white shirt to be covered in red wine? Do you want to be the laughing stock of the office, or want your company to be the laughing stock of the restaurant industry?
Even if this is a Christmas party, you are still in a work-related environment. Have some self-control with the booze and pace yourself. And if you can’t do that, stop, or ask a more sensible co-worker to reel you in if they feel you’re being a drunken tool. Otherwise the bar staff will do it for you, and that’ll ruin your party, let me tell you.
You are not the only people here
Even if your organiser has booked a private room, there are usually other paying customers in the restaurant/bar. If there is a wait on food or drinks, it may just be because the staff are attending to others. Don’t start squawking for the waiter when they are serving another party. Your wineglass will be refilled in good time.
Also, don’t even think about harassing the other customers. The two women trying to have a quiet drink in the corner are not amused by you stumbling over to them wearing reindeer ears and trying to pull up a chair. Trust me.
Keep your clothes on
For the love of Christ. People are trying to eat.
If it’s not yours, hands off
No climbing fireplaces. No taking restaurant ornaments down and wearing them as a hat. No standing on chairs. No banging on light fittings when you want to make a speech. No smearing cheese on the windows. No stealing dummy wine bottles off the display, thinking it’s the perfect crime (they’re empty, you tool).
All of these things seem like a lot of fun when intoxicated. But unless you own the space your function is being held at, control your stupidity. The more you carry on like a toss pot, the less likely it is a staff member will assist you when you fall off a stair railing onto your face. And if you damage anything, own up and act like an adult. Don’t play dumb as the waitress tries to sweep broken glass from directly underneath your chair. Apologise, cooperate, and offer to pay.
Don’t abuse the staff
Us wine-bringing, apron-wearing devices might seem beneath your notice, but we are perfectly capable of remembering you and reporting your shitty behaviour to your superiors. I’ve had the pleasure of being screamed and sworn at by a drunken office worker, and that pleasure was magnified when I passed this incident on the company’s HR who promptly had the person disciplined. Maybe you’re the owner of a smaller company, and you don’t care how you or others acted at the Christmas dinner. You’re still not untouchable – angry waiters/bartenders will be boycotting your business and spreading the reasons why all over social media. And let me tell you, us hospo kids have pretty extensive networks on Twitter and Facebook, worldwide.
You’re representing your workplace. Act accordingly, and have some respect and gratitude for the staff hosting your function. Don’t worry, this can be accomplished even when you’re off your tree.
Clean up your shit
This goes for other occasions too – hen’s nights and 21sts have a particular knack for leaving sequins and balloons all over the restaurant, much to the joy of staff and other less-festive customers. Find a way to dispose of your Christmas wrapping paper/boxes/ribbons/decorations properly, even if it is just to bring a garbage bag. If you show consideration and make the life of the staff a bit easier, we will remember you and your company in a positive light, even if Bryan did walk into a wall-to-wall mirror thinking it was part of the restaurant.
Don’t drink and drive
If you even think this is a good idea, if you even begin to start justifying this, I want you to stop and imagine the face of the person you love the most. The person you love most in the whole world. Then imagine that person’s face bloodless and broken, looking up with dead eyes from a black body-bag.
It’s one thing to chuckle and groan over how drunk you were at the Christmas party. It’s quite another to have to explain the mangled corpse of a seventeen-year-old boy under your car to a devastated family during Christmas, let alone the police. I have lost people in this way, and it is not something you fucking giggle about after New Year.
Organise a designated driver. Be the designated driver. Ask the staff to call you a cab. Use public transport. Walk. But don’t you dare get behind a wheel drunk.
These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to not being That Christmas Party Wanker. Remember folks, having fun this Christmas does not need to be at the expense of others! Celebrate with and congratulate your colleagues – senior and junior – for making it through yet another year. Eat, drink, and be merry! But don’t forget those tireless hospitality workers behind the scenes that slave away to make your lovely Christmas functions happen. After all, isn’t spreading Christmas cheer – and getting revenge on shitty customers – what Christmas is all about?
Stay tuned for some special Christmas-themed customer reviews, coming soon. Happy holidays, hospo kids!