I am not a Grinch, I absolutely love Christmas and all its festivities. However, the entire month of December I am constantly exhausted as it is a juggling act of every person I have ever known wanting to meet up to celebrate Christmas.
I work in the corporate world, and the number of Christmas parties really mount up. I am invited to a firm party, a department party and then a team party. On top of that is the unwritten rule that you must see every single family member and friend because it is viewed as sacrilege if we don't meet up at Christmas.
This perplexes me, why do we have to do all of our socialising in one month and then go into hiding in January? Would it not make sense to spread out seeing people all year rather than the urgent rush to see each other in December? There are some people who literally only get in contact 'because its Christmas'. I understand the sentiment but please get in touch other months of the year too!
Availability WhatsApp Groups
In any group of friends or family, someone will take one for the team and set up a group (or email chain) to find out everyone's availability. I admire these people, and have on occasion been the organiser. The problem is that my phone is flooded with everyone's availability and the bulk of the messages are explaining why they are busy on certain dates. I do not have the patience for your December life story. A big downfall is when the organiser asks where people want to go for their Christmas meal: cue every restaurant ever to exist being thrown in as an option and no one being on the same page. People seem to love recommending the restaurant nearest to where they live. Unless your group all live on the same street, this is fairly futile. A solid group of friends may have a restaurant they've been going to for years, stick with this and don't make life difficult for yourself trying to find somewhere new.
The other extreme are the people that don't reply to the messages, how long is it acceptable to wait for someone to reply before you book without them? If you wait too long the restaurant you've finally agreed on will be fully booked and you are back to square one. You are perfectly entitled to say no to the event, you don't even need to give a reason or excuse, just make sure you respond. We must understand and accept that finances in December can be an issue and sometimes people just don't have the energy.
It's quite normal for restaurants to ask for a deposit to book a table, another December speciality. So the group organiser also has to collect everyone's deposits and pay the restaurant. It's a lot of responsibility, and depending on the quality of your friends you could be waiting weeks for them to send you the deposit.
There are websites where people can put in their availability into a calendar, which I think are really useful and cuts out all the text messages. It is essentially a group poll to find the best date for everyone.
I do have one request, please avoid inviting me anywhere Black Eye Friday. Black Eye Friday is a term used in the United Kingdom due to the huge amount of fights that break out in bars, pubs and clubs on the last Friday before Christmas. Wikipedia states 'it is the most popular night for end-of-year corporate and industrial Christmas parties, which consequently makes it one of the busiest nights in the year for ambulances and the police.'
It is a nightmare to get a taxi home on this night, and it really does bring out the worst in some people who appear to have drunk some kind of crazy Christmas potion. The sights you see on Black Eye Friday could have you mistaken that you are in a zombie apocalypse at 7pm.
My advice is simple, the organiser should choose the location and date and invitees simply accept or decline without trying to change the plans to suit themselves. If you wish to moan about the location, organise it yourself.
Set Menu Sadness
You've agreed on a date and a venue for your Christmas event, now comes the dreaded set menu that restaurants reserve for December. They vary in price but they are nearly always a 3 course set menu that is more expensive than their year round menu. What if I just want my usual pizza at the usual price? I don't necessarily eat 3 courses every time I go to a restaurant so why am I forced into it at Christmas.
My best friend is a victimised vegetarian who ends up eating a nut roast every week because the set menus often only have 1 option on for her, whilst people around her excitedly browse the menu deciding which decadent dish to choose from. It is also terrible value for money for her, she could be paying £40 for soup, vegetables and fruit. Some restaurants don't put a great deal of creativity into serving dietary preferences on the set menus.
The work Christmas party, or indeed any set menu, will invariably involve a classic Christmas dinner. There is something so strange to me about putting on your new sequin dress to then sit and eat roast potatoes. If I am eating a Christmas dinner I would like it on Christmas Day and I want to lounge on the sofa in jogging bottoms immediately afterwards. Instead we are expected to dance the night away full of gravy and sprouts!
This all sounds like I'm an unsociable hermit, but all I ask is can we please spread out the socialising across all 12 months, my fatigue and bank balance would really appreciate it. I'm not saying I don't want to see anyone, I'm free any date in January and would love a cheap pizza with a bottle of wine. I also think that it shows people you really care about them if you want to meet up mid- year and not just at Christmas. Whatever happens, I won't be joining you on Black Eye Friday!