Dating Don’ts: How Not To Become A Party Pariah

Though I can’t remember his name, I can still recall the face of the guest who whipped out a handful of Ziploc bags as a long ago Christmas party was winding down. “Do you mind if I take some of these cheese puffs home with me?” he half-asked, shoving the leftover snacks into a bag. “What about these tortilla chips?”

Too shocked to do anything but nod, my acquaintance left with a stash of snacks and a permanent place on my own personal Do Not Call list.

When I first started writing this piece, I figured it would be about not making a fool of yourself at the company holiday party. But the more I researched, the more it seemed that pretty much every business on the planet has cancelled their annual soirees. I get that you can’t lay off half your staff and then ply the other half with six-foot sandwiches and cheap booze, but I think a lot of companies are using this financial downturn as an excuse. Bah humbug! Still, between Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve, even if your office party isn’t happening (or, more tragically, your job is no longer happening), chances are you’ll be invited to some kind of celebration. Here are some tips to keep disaster at bay.

1. Keep the booze in check. A new study shows alcohol “fuels bad behavior” at holiday parties. I realize this is the “duh” heard ‘round the world, but researchers found that 49 percent of people polled said they’d witnessed drunken co-workers flirting with other co-workers or supervisors, and 44% observed a soused co-worker spill highly inappropriate personal dirt about themselves or coworkers. Unless you want to find yourself telling Sheila in Accounting all about that weird hairy mole on your inner thigh after Billy the IT dude has discovered it firsthand, you’d do best to practice some moderation, young lady.

2. Invite one date at a time. This sounds like a no-brainer, but haven’t we all gone through casual dating periods when we’re seeing a couple people at the same time? They’re probably doing the same thing, so it’s no biggie, right? Why not hedge your bets and invite ‘em all? Because fate is a cruel mistress, and if you invite them, they will come, that’s why. They will not be happy, and you will find yourself exchanging many boyfriends for many crumpled, tear-soaked tissues.

3. If you are prone to drunk dialing, either leave your phone at home (preferably hidden by your roommate or a reliable friend), or change all your danger-number names to something along the lines of “Don’t be a moron!” or “He hit on your brother!” Hopefully your will is stronger than the eggnog.

4. Keep your inner stripper at bay. While your friends probably won’t care if you run around nekkid, keeping your pants on is crucial if you’re at a work or family function. Do you really think your maybe-future mother-in-law will ever forget how she found out you’re a waxer? And that art director you lap-danced? The proliferation of sneaky phone cams means there’s every possibility in the world that he’s got video.