Office Christmas Parties, Sister Style

>> Friday, 7 November 2008

After much pleading and many promises of chocolate from me, my sister has agreed to write another guest post. Enjoy.

(and any comments on how she's a better writer than I am should be kept to yourself...)

Well, the Christmas party season is almost upon us and, as I’m in a new job and trying to network, I’m planning on attending the company do this year – something I normally avoid due to the unfortunate combination of alcohol and my idea of what is acceptable conversation with work colleagues after 4 large G&Ts, and a bottle of cheap champagne.

I’ve begun my search for a dress which reduces my 36Fs to a more modest non-Jordanesque cleavage and shows off my legs without revealing my footballer’s knees. An interesting challenge. Have I told you about my post weight-gain knees? After I tore the ligament in my right knee skiing, I pulled up my trousers in the pharmacy and the Austrian chemist gasped and said ‘My God, it’s really swollen’. She was about to dial for an ambulance until I pointed out that she was looking at the wrong knee and that I was just chunky. She agreed and calmed down.

With my body shape, not even magic knickers will do the job; the last outing of my industrial scaffolding arrangement ended in an unfortunate Bridget Jones moment when the gusset unpopped and my lower half started to roll up towards my chest. The resulting moving bulge was reminiscent of the scene from the great ‘80s mini-series ‘V’, when the doctors started to deliver the alien baby to screams and a flurry of obstetric equipment. Not a moment to be repeated.

Still, if we’re talking about making an impact through costume choice, I can’t beat Christmas 2003, when I was managing an IT support team.

It was announced that the theme of the party would be ‘The Oscars’ and, in the interests of team bonding, I suggested that we choose 'Saving Private Ryan', a film with a large cast so that we could each choose a character. Our team of 15 men and 2 women started to prepare. For weeks, we studied stills from the movie, gathering around the monitor like extras from CSI (of course, the Las Vegas version. God knows what they’re trying to do with Miami – Horatio comes across as a strange man with many dark secrets of a sexual nature. And don’t even get me started on CSI: New York . He should have stopped at Lootenant Dan in Forrest Gump).

Anyway, we trawled military memorabilia sites, found trousers, shirt and boots at Army surplus stores, and felt we’d hit the jackpot at Argos when we discovered the Junior Action Man Dressing Up Outfit. All it took was a quick trip to the local mall, a double take from the checkout girl, and I was the proud owner of 17 small helmets, plastic daggers and pairs of mini binoculars.

But the piece de resistance was the ammo belt. My friend Sue and I worked like the mice from the Tailor of Gloucester, hunched over sewing machines for several evenings whilst we assembled the belts from Hessian sacking and then added tampons wrapped in tin foil as bullets. Finally, the outfits were complete. Every detail had been considered. Each of us was dressed in character, from the fag packets stuck in helmets to the medals, carefully copied from the film and pinned on our uniforms. We agreed to meet in a pub near the venue in order to apply our night-manoeuvres face paint and set out to enjoy the evening, safe in the knowledge that we were the best dressed team and would definitely win any fancy dress prize.

After a few pre-match drinks, we made our way en-masse to the venue, and decided to run into the vast and impressive entrance marquee as a unit, shouting instructions to each other using our plastic walkie-talkies – ‘Nice work, Marine!’ ‘Incoming!’ And so on, you get the picture. It was as I hit the red carpet in a Doc Marten’ed run that I started to consider my surroundings.

A red carpet.

Flash photography.

Several people milling around in black tie and evening dress.

Yes, dear reader, you’ve guessed it. So here I am, safe in the knowledge that, although this year I may have brought an expensive dress in a size smaller that I should have, in a colour far too young for a woman at the wrong end of her thirties. and with a length that doesn’t hide my knees, I will never, ever do worse than turning up to a black tie evening themed ‘A Night at the Oscars’, wearing army boots, face paint, a plastic helmet and tampons.


The Boisterous Butterfly 7 November 2008 at 14:29  

I was a little bit concerned about your interpretation from the start and wandered if they didn't mean gown and smoking. Still, you made one hell of an entrance and I hope you stayed long enough to get some worth out of your costumes. There must have been some admiring glances and some positive feedback. I hope you commandeered the hors d'oeuvres and the trays of white wine. I hope you had the attitudes to go with the costumes.

Expat mum 7 November 2008 at 15:19  

Tampons wrapped in tin foil??? That's one heck of an imagination you have there!

Anonymous,  7 November 2008 at 16:39  

I too liked the tampon/tinfoil approach. very grown up Blue Peter!

You are lost on your day job!

Jonny's Mommy 7 November 2008 at 17:01  

I agree on the CSI spin offs...what is going on there?

That is very funny and I think more movie stars should do that at the Oscars anyhow, so you are just ahead of your time!

Pig in the Kitchen 7 November 2008 at 17:36  

oh toooo funny! I am so dense I had no idea where this story was going and was just enjoying the ride... in fact I'm a grade A dullard, and - err - think you actually were at the oscars? you see, thick.

anyway, very funny, very witty, i did enjoy the moving bulge. it's such torture having to do the christmas formal thang isn't it? the worst ones are the ones AFTER xmas in January (i know!), when one is at one's lardiest best.

very happy to have read your guest post. I suspect you are not really real, and PottyM is just trotting out her alter ego...


aims 7 November 2008 at 18:24  

Gosh it's hard to write a comment after Pig - isn't it?

At your lardiest best...I mean - who can top that? Although Arching her Pigly back does come to mind - but then again - it's still Pig!

Tampons wrapped in tin-foil. Girl - you need to change your job. I think set decoration is definitely more you.

Iota 7 November 2008 at 18:48  

At least you were in a group, not on your own.

The foil-wrapped tampons - inspired! You must be a fabulous auntie to those Boys.

nappy valley girl 7 November 2008 at 19:42  

Fab story, PM's sister. I hope you enjoyed the evening anyway and that everyone congratulated you on your, er, originality.....

Adventure Mother 7 November 2008 at 23:17  

I bet the black tie lot were totally jealous of your rig out and felt totally over-dressed and uncomfortable.

Anonymous,  8 November 2008 at 00:17  

Great stories - time you started your own blog!

Tracey 8 November 2008 at 02:46  

See what you need with that talent and imagination is Melbourne Cup day in Australia - where people either go dressed to the nines, or dress up crazy - often in a theme. You wouldn't have been out of place at all at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November - and you probably would have made the photo montages on the news...

[I can see that writing well runs in the family! - How's that for diplomacy, PM?!! ]

Potty Mummy 8 November 2008 at 20:14  

Tracey - you clearly should have had a career in the Foreign Office...

And the rest of you, well, see my next post for what has now happened...

Footballers Knees 9 November 2008 at 17:00  

Hi, PM's sis here. Thanks everyone for your kind and very funny comments. I've now decided to set up my own blog so will publish the tampon/tin foil effect decorative ammo instructions in time for Christmas.

Thanks again!

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