I have a terrible secret to reveal. So terrible, I'm not quite sure that I should tell you what it is. But then again, if I didn't, this column would end right here, at the end of this sentence. And we don't want that now, do we? Perhaps you shouldn't answer that question.
My disappointingly non-secret secret is this; I have never been a guest at a Christmas party.
This isn't due to unpopularity (or so everyone keeps telling me as they slink off into the distance with the whisper of mistletoe and transgression ever-hanging in the air). This is due to my choice of work. For years I was a bartender, which means that I doled out the drinks at corporate do's, mixed Long Island Iced Teas on St Stephens Night and popped champagne corks at ten to midnight on New Year's Eve. There's no time for Christmas parties for people working in the hospitality sector - we got our party in February. The Christmas crackers had gone remarkably stale by that point.
Writing from home poses it's own party problem. There is no office, so there's no people. There's no people, so there is no party to go to. There's no party to go to, so I sit at home in my pajamas happily guzzling that bottle of Advocaat I found under the sink and watching the wizard of Oz.
This year marks the difference. This year will be my first as a CPG (Christmas Party Goer). The CPG is a different creature from your average party goer. Casual is out, the trousers are off and anything vaguely resembling tinsel is more in than Hugh Grant at a sorority gathering.
Here are a few pointers for the average CPG searching for the outfit of her dreams.
1) Go sparkly - but not too sparkly. Sequins are great. High shine, foil-backed fabric dresses are also great. Rhinestones are totally fabulous and criminally underused. Just don't wear them all at the same time, lest you become known as your local magpie fancier.
2) Your hemline is directly proportionate to how bright your frock is. Wearing an LBD? Then feel free to have your bum cleft exposed. Tis the season for more than just eggnog, you know. If your chosen party dress is a cerise-pink abomination with a smattering of precious gems and a not-so-subtle hint of 18th century parquetry, then by all means cover up the shoulders and thighs. The same goes for hair. The more ostentatious the dress, the more subdued the hairstyle. You want to look like you're having a Merry Christmas, not like you're auditioning for the inaugural cover of 'Playboy: The Toyland Edition'.
3) Always carry a tube of bright or dark lipstick for awkward mistletoe situations. Slick about half an inch on, then give that horrible, twig-dangling sleaze from HR the snog of his life. That'll teach 'im.
4) If you just KNOW that you're going to get mercilessly drunk, then wear an atrocious outfit to soften the blow with office gossips the next day.
Example: "Did you hear about Sinead eating twelve mince pies and vomiting on the karaeoke machine?"
"Who cares about that? Did. You. See. What. She. Was. Wearing?"
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