What does an American need to know about an Irish work party?
September 27, 2006 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Tell me about the office Christmas party in Ireland.

I'll be attending my first this year, as an American employee. I know enough to know that, culturally, these are very different from their Yank counterparts. But that's about where it ends. I've been told by some of my American colleagues that "the women get much more dressed up, and for many it's considered the social event of the year." My Irish colleagues just sort of smile wistfully with memories of debaucheries past and say, "You'll have a great time."

Google has turned up articles like this one, which only underline the differences without clarifying them.

I don't want to drill for further info from co-workers for political reasons, but neither do I want to plan poorly and show up ill-prepared. I don't want to be a stick in the mud because I'm used to the formal rules of a US office party... nor do I want to cross the line and make any career-limiting moves.

Have you ever been to an Irish office Christmas party? Please do tell. (Or, if they are similar throughout the UK, feel free to share your take on a British party, etc.)

Looking for a generic timeline of events, insight on cultural mindset, how professionalism does or doesn't come into play, how spouses and guests fare, are gifts given among colleagues or from employer to employee, the ranges of dress code (I'm really worried about that one, as I am very conservative in my formal wear at American events, yet don't want to look like a prudish schoolmarm in Dublin).

Does everyone stay overnight? If everyone has rooms at the hotel, is there partying before and after? Do people really write anonymous reports to the local news? How does anyone manage to stay employed after such a weekend?

If it varies based on industry, size, etc., then assume your average mid-range paper merchant, 100 employees or so.

Does the Irish holiday season play a role? With no Thanksgiving, when do the holidays "kick off," so to speak?

(Oh, and any insight as to the concept of Resident's Bar will be appreciated. If you are staying at the hotel, then there is no last call, basically?)
posted by pineapple to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's not Ireland, but I've been to plenty of Scottish Christmas parties (as an American), and the general theme is to get as drunk as possible, make a fool of yourself, and then laugh about it afterwards. I think you'll find that there's little you could come up with that would jeapordise your job in that sort of environment, so I wouldn't worry about that. I would expect the partying to last for as long as you can, especially if some are staying at the hotel.

We always have a Secret Santa at our parties, so i'd just get in touch with the PA of their offices in Dublin to enquire about the gift-giving and any dress/etiquette.
posted by ukdanae at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2006


the general theme is to get as drunk as possible, make a fool of yourself, and then laugh about it afterwards

Seconded. (Isn't this the theme of most British gatherings?) Don't go expecting a sophisticated do.

Also, I don't think gift-giving is standard, particularly with 100 people involved.
posted by chrismear at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2006


ukdanae's got it right. Lots of booze. Most people will plan on getting hammered. I don't find this is much different than Xmas parties I go to here in Canada or the US, but I work with a lot of expats. I suppose for smaller companies or certain industries this might be different, but I've been to construction, hospitality, government and bank Xmas parties in Dublin and they were all similar. I've never been to one where everyone stayed at the hotel.

"Resident's bar" - I worked in hotel bars in Dublin for the best part of a decade. They probably won't refuse you service if you're staying there but at a certain point (when the crowd thins, people stop spending money and become very drunk and a general pain in the arse) your party will likely be moved to the lobby seats so the bar staff can clean up and get off home, and the night porters will take over serving you. This will be slower service, the idea being to make you bugger off to bed and let them get on with their other work. In the hotels I worked in office Xmas parties were the second most hated group after Icelandic Christmas shopping tours. After the clock hits a certain hour the bar staff will not tolerate much obnoxiousness, especially if you're the tenth night of office parties in a row.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:11 AM on September 27, 2006


Does the Irish holiday season play a role? With no Thanksgiving, when do the holidays "kick off," so to speak?

After hallowe'en you're going to start seeing Christmas related stuff in the shops, and people will start talking about shopping for presents. If they're not there already.
posted by jamesonandwater at 9:13 AM on September 27, 2006


You will be encouraged by your peers to get as drunk as possible, have fun, and not worry about what happens. Which, objectively, is fine.

The only downside to this is that you must then be prepared for being reminded of the time you tried to (insert embarrassing drunkypants stunt here) at every conceivable opportunity for years to come, and possibly being identified to new people solely as "The guy who (insert drunkypants stunt here)".

If you're comfortable with that, go for it - if not, though, do what I did the one year I worked over there, and nurse three drinks all night.
posted by pdb at 9:19 AM on September 27, 2006


The only downside to this is that you must then be prepared for being reminded of the time you...

Of course, the upside is that having a drunk story to your name will do wonders for your acceptance in the social structure of the company. You'll be 'alright'.
posted by chrismear at 9:24 AM on September 27, 2006


Of course, the upside is that having a drunk story to your name will do wonders for your acceptance in the social structure of the company.

Definitely true, but for a lot of Americans being continually reminded of drunken behavior is not necessarily a badge of honor, especially in the workplace, so it's a thing that needed to be mentioned.
posted by pdb at 10:33 AM on September 27, 2006


Its all reversed-
If you're sick on the boss's new suit - it could mean a promotion.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:12 PM on September 27, 2006


I reckon the key is to try and keep pace with the group drunkeness, don't peak too soon. The later the better.

The next day and for weeks afterwards, have a laugh about yours and others antics, this deffo goes a way to get you 'in there'. If you are getting the slagging, just shrug and chuckle.

Be prepared also for a BIG breakfast the next morning, grease with everything. It'll help no end.
posted by MarvinJ at 1:18 AM on September 28, 2006


I'm a Canadian that went to my first Irish work Christmas party last year (mediaum sized software company, about 100 people as well). Ours was upstairs from Sam Sara, in town. Basically, it went like this:

- Meet up with some of the work folk for pre-party drinks. Consume 3 or 4 pints.
- Make it to the venue for the party... we showed up about average, not too early, not too late
- Free wine is provided in great quantities, drink tickets are provided (no open bar for our party, due to... issues... with the previous year's party. Not so much the staff members, but I think the venue tried to screw us)
- Yummy dinner, with much wine.
- Silly quiz game
- Drinks
- Karaoke.
- Drinks
- "Thanks everybody for coming, enjoy the drinks, we'll see you all on Monday"
- My boss leaves
- Drinks
- Blur
- Dude whose last day was the day of the Xmas party, running up some stairs from a bouncer
- Drinks
- Dude whose last day was the day of the Xmas party, seriously creeping out the girls in the company
- Drinks
- Bus home relatively early, as I'm too drunk to stand anymore

Basically, lots of booze, good times, just try not to be a COMPLETE ass. Don't go feeling up the boss' wife, don't do anything actionable. But for the most part, expect good drunken fun. Of course, all of this could possibly be completely different at your company. I know my gf's office party is like a black tie ball, so probably a bit less debaucherous. Follow the crowd, it won't do you wrong.
posted by antifuse at 1:59 AM on September 28, 2006


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