The Holiday Party: Or How Not to Throw up on Your Boss

With the end of the calendar year upon us, those companies who aren’t budget cutting by playing Scrooge with their employees will be hosting the annual “holiday” party. These can be a great way to enjoy some food and drink; socialize with your coworkers and dance late into the evening, all on the company dime. Although they can be fun and frolic, these outings are also fraught with peril, as we found at last year’s festive event. We ran this story last December, but thought since we’ve seen similar situations at a number of company parties, it might be a good idea to run it again. So, for your reading pleasure…

As with previous years, we attended the annual company holiday party. The invitation indicated that each guest would receive two drink tickets, with all additional drinks available from the “cash bar.” Upon arriving we learned that the bar policy had changed. One of the head honchos had flown in from out of town, and all drinks were on the house. This is where the trouble started.

One of the guys attending the party (we’ll call him Sam) was having some sort of relationship with one of his co-workers (we’ll call her Angela). We do not know–nor do we wish to know–the exact nature of the relationship. Suffice to say, he was “smitten” with her. Unfortunately for Sam, Angela had a boyfriend. And said boyfriend was her date to the company party. Sam came to the party stag and spent most of the evening mooning over Angela. With his emotions on overdrive, most certainly not “in check,” Sam made more trips to the bar than he did to the carving station.

Sam is known for being a frugal guy. If the wine had not been “free” no doubt he would have limited his consumption. But sadly this was not the case. Because he was fueled by his emotions Sam had way a few too many glasses of wine. Luckily for Sam, he had booked a room at the hotel hosting the office party. Also luckily for Sam; his supervisor was once young and stupid. So when Sam’s pallor turned an unfortunate shade of green, said supervisor recruited another co-worker and the two of them helped Sam “take the elevator home.”

But sadly for Sam, he was obligated to pay the dry cleaning bill for some not-so-lovely spots of “recycled” wine that he deposited on his boss’s gray cashmere jacket. And in addition to having a terrible hangover the next day, Sam must forever be known as the guy who threw up on his boss.

In Japan, “salarymen” (white collar workers) have a practice of bureiko. Bureiko refers to the disappearance of rules, which governs daily social behaviors, while drinking. A person’s actions, especially rude behavior, is expected to be forgotten by the participants. As such, the person who causes trouble while drunk is not supposed to be accused when he/she returns to sobriety. The practice of bureiko emotionally unites the group by providing an opportunity to understand the private feelings of one another that are not expressed in daily social life.

But for those of us in America, society looks down upon those who overindulge at the company Christmas party, act stupid or worse; vomit on the boss. So for those of you preparing to attend holiday parties take heed. Here are a few tips to keep you from ending up like Sam.

Steps to Keep from Getting Drunk

  • 1. Eat before you go. A meal in your stomach will slow the absorption of alcohol by your body. Choose proteins and fats for your pre-libation meal and continue to eat throughout the evening. Researchers have also found that drinking milk or yogurt can help coat the stomach so the effect of alcohol is lessened; so a glass of milk is a good idea before you intend to drink at a party.
  • 2. Eat during the party. If there is food available, for heaven’s sake EAT. Your company did not go to the expense of choosing the menu and paying for the food to have it go home with the waitstaff. Part of the reason for the food is to avoid the liability of drunken employees. So have some food on the company dime!
  • 3. Drink lots of water. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means you pass out more water than you take in and that could be dangerous as dehydration is a factor. So keep drinking water. For me, the best combination is two parts water for every one part wine. Have a glass of wine, and then have two glasses of water. Ice water if you can stand it. Not only does it dilute the alcohol in your system, but it allows you to pace yourself.
  • 4. Mingle. People who sit and drink often do not realize they are drunk until they stand up. To avoid this, stay on your feet; walk around and talk to people.
  • 5. Know Your Limits. Stop drinking at least an hour before you leave the party. If available, secure a hotel room so you don’t risk having to drive home with an elevated level of alcohol in your bloodstream. And if all else fails, call a cab.

Even with the best of intentions, it is possible to overindulge, leading to that gawd-awful morning after feeling of an ice pick drilling through your skull while a jack-hammer is pounding in your ears. We polled some of our friends at Open Wine Consortium and here is their advice on avoiding the dreaded hangover.

Avoiding the Hangover

A hangover is caused by a combination of the toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism (acetaldehyde), dehydration, and depletion of the Vitamins A, B (particularly B6) and C caused by the chemical action of alcohol on your system. Symptoms usually include dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, dizziness and headache.

The most obvious way to avoid a hangover is to avoid getting drunk. Water, Water, Water, is the agreed upon prevention offered by most of the OWC posters.

  • 1. Quench your thirst with still water (no bubbles) – ideally drink a glass of water for each glass of wine.
  • 2. Surreptitiously drink water.
  • 3. Drink water.
  • 4. Drink water and if you can stand it, a glass of fresh fruit juice. Sleep. Drink water. Sleep. Drink water, says Wink Lorch, a wine educator and writer based in London.

Sonadora, one of the fab bloggers we first met at the 2008 Wine Blogger Conference , says:

  • 1. A glass of water for every glass of wine. Keep eating all night.
  • 2. Watch it. Don’t be THAT girl/guy. Keep it moderate…I never have more than 2 glasses of wine at a work function.
  • 3. Eat something full of protein and carbs if you’re planning to go out and tie one on. Drink lots of water. Stick to one type of wine (red/white), don’t drink the plonk.
  • 4. A giant bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel. Large glass of fresh juice. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Dave Ferguson, who posts at as SonomaDave adds:

  • 1. Learn to sip and enjoy. Guzzling is for teens and others who are learning to drink.
  • 2. Avoid the hangover by drinking the smallest amount of sweet or bubbly wines. Also, avoid any low end wines. Think of them as gasoline and its a snap.
  • 3. After drinking and before bed, load up on any liquid that isn’t alcoholic. If you find yourself in the proverbial spinning bed, do these two easy things: First, simply hang your leg over the edge of the bed and put your foot on the floor. Secondly, breathe purposely, in through your nose and out through your mouth.

Several of the OWC members offer “medicinal remedies” of a sort. Richard, an avid wine drinker and gourmand based in Corbieres, posts;

A bottle or 2 of Lucozade used to do the trick for me. Just a shame I’ve never seen it for sale here in France, but I’m sure any other so called sports (Iso) drink would work a trick.

Alex Hill, who posts at Discover Wine Country TV recommends taking Chaser that evening and drinking Gatorade the following day. Dustin Jones, who posts at German Wine Blog, recommends Pedialyte.

As much as you’re tempted to reach for the bottle avoid those over-the-counter painkillers.The side effects of aspirin, Tylenol and ibuprofen can be magnified when alcohol is in your system, so it is best to avoid them to kill the hangover pain. Aspirin is a blood thinner, just like alcohol, and can intensify its effects and Tylenol (or acetaminophen) can cause more damage to your liver. Ibuprofen can also cause stomach bleeding. So be cautious when going for the quick relief.

The best relief is also good for you! It’s probably the last thing you feel like doing but exercise is a marvelous cure!

I think one of the best ways to speed through a hangover is go work out (if you can!) Working out will get you sweating out the nasty toxins more quickly than just laying around, says Jennifer, of Girl With a Glass.

For a more humorous look at how to avoid hangovers and hangover cures, complete with video and funny photos, check out Philly’s own Joe Roberts at who will tell you, like us, that the best way to avoid a hangover is to abstain from drinking like a fish.

As for a woman’s sage advice to guys like Sam: romance is best left out of the workplace, especially when the gal has a significant other(s). If you do fall for one encumbered; do not come to the office party alone. Take advantage of that “and guest” on your invitation and bring a date. Even if your office crush reciprocates, she has no reason to choose you if you’re always available.

Avoid the embarrassment of being “that guy” at the office holiday party. Bring a date. Enjoy the party and moderate your drinking. You’ll feel much better in the morning!



Posted in Best of AWB, Education, Holiday, Posts

Amy Corron Power View posts by Amy Corron Power

A licensed attorney, Amy is a wine-lover, foodie, photographer, political junkie and award-winning author who writes about Wine, Food, Beer & Spirits. As Managing Editor & Tasting Director for Another Wine Blog, she travels all over the world's wine regions to share her experiences with her readers and legions of twitter, Instagram and Facebook friends and fans. Amy holds certifications through the International Sommelier Guild, and is also certified, with honors, as a California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). She is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and regularly attends Houston Sommelier Association events. Amy is also a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, and was most recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude.
  • What Sonadora and Dave said especially. You're entitled to tie one once in a while, so plan accordingly and book a room where the party is or arrange the ride home.

    • Great ideas, Jeff, but you forgot to add that Rhone-style blends from Calaveras Country can protect against embarrassing incidents. I think I read that on Wikipedia or something.

      • It's true. They're specially designed to resist high accelerations…

        • I can honestly state that in all of my exhaustive studies, none has ever come back out the same way it went in.

    • Tossing on the Boss – so not cool!

  • Pingback: uberVU - social comments()

  • Jodi

    Drink NON alcoholic drinks is the key. Just like is reiterated above. That is the key. Eating just before is just as important. If you want to be the drinking buddy just eat before and drink water when people aren't looking. Some can drink like nobody's business. Not too many and don't think you can.

    • Non-alcoholic drinks??? Are you trying to make me cry, Jodi? ;)

  • Heidi, the insatiable lover of chefs and wine, who also happens to be an ER and ICU nurse, has this to say:

    Food! Ibuprofen, 800 mg. Yep 4 over the counter tabs at 200 mg each, = 800 mg, which is 1 big pain reliever that won't hurt your liver.

    Add the 2 above with 8 hours of sleep, and noone will ever be the wiser, including yourself. Merry Christmas!

  • Heidi, the insatiable lover of chefs and wine, who also happens to be an ER and ICU nurse, has this to say:

    Food! Ibuprofen, 800 mg. Yep 4 over the counter tabs at 200 mg each, = 800 mg, which is 1 big pain reliever that won't hurt your liver.

    Add the 2 above with 8 hours of sleep, and noone will ever be the wiser, including yourself. Merry Christmas!

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