Many people in the corporate world get to sit in their fancy offices enjoying the spirit of Christmas giving through pay rises and hefty bonuses, slowly taking their foot off the work pedal until they finally grind to a complete halt around the 21st of December.
This is often in stark contrast to fundraising where, in many organisations, Christmas is one of the busiest times of year (see previous correlation corners…). Rather than a pay rise or bonus to ease the cost and stress of Christmas, a £10 secret Santa and a Christmas party may be your only salvation.
Where your friend at Bain Capital is getting whisked off to a 5-star hotel black tie event you’ll be heading around the corner to the nearest pub for the unsubsidised £25 two course Xmas special.
To those in this situation I’d look upon it as a stroke of good fortune, I’d rather be in the local Youngs with a small team of people I like than The Savoy in a £150 rental tuxedo with 500 people I barley know.
If you’ve been to something like this before (I’m not claiming to, but I’ve certainly been to watered-down equivalents) then you’ll know that events like this are often used as a cringe-worthy ‘haven’t we done well’ mutual back slapping affairs that begin with a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation about the growth of the company, the very antithesis of Christmas.
I also get the distinct impression it’s used as a pseudo appraisal for how people present themselves after a few drinks, if the seating has been pre planned and you’re sat next to a senior manager from some other team, are they secretly taking notes on how well you’re doing?
Are you asking the right questions about the intricacies of their job? Are you coming across like you have a genuine interest? Are you coming across as boring because you’re only talking about work? It’s a minefield and one that people often choose to cross with the aid of alcohol.
All too often I’ve seen the negative feedback loop of dulling the sense of awkwardness with wine, and more disastrously, shots end in ignominy. From a glass of red thrown over a pristine white shirt to a foam fire extinguisher getting set off, I’ve seen the damaging effects of over the top Christmas parties more often then the positive.
The hangover shame of dancing to ABBA in front of a table of sober directors is something that will likely live with you for the rest of your life. It could be a hot summers day in 15 years’ time, enjoying a picnic in Hyde Park, then BANG! You’ll be taken straight back to that exact moment, cringing internally at a moment that nobody else even remembers.
Best case scenario, you get to sit on a table with some friends eat your food in peace and have a couple of drinks – something you can do with ease and on a shoestring at your local pub, something fundraisers know how to do better than anyone.