This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
It's December, honeys—'tis the season to be peer pressured into attending a load of social gatherings you don’t really want to go to.
Admit this: You’d much rather be watching Netflix in your pajamas with the heating on and a mini Baileys (or five) a short distance away from you, but unfortunately you’re going to have to put on your big coat, go outside into the freezing fucking cold, and show your miserable face at—
The Work Christmas Party
Nothing says Christmas like organized fun. This year they’ve really splashed out, by having it in the office canteen, but it starts at 4 PM so you kind of have to go. Suck it up, cash in your two free drink tokens, and get stuck into the pictogram round with Graham from finance, who voted to Leave the EU and really, really wants to talk about that.
Department Christmas Lunch
It's 2 PM on a Monday—admittedly not everyone’s favorite day of the week to go for a three-course set menu of dry turkey/afterthought vegetarian options at the "gastropub" next to the office—but it’s the only day in all of December when everyone is in the office and ready to bond. And, actually, that could be a good thing? Maybe it’s just that you were braced for the worst, but there’s something inexplicably joyful about blasting Bublé on your work computer’s tinny speakers, getting wasted on Prosecco from the "Events Cupboard," and having a proper chat with the people you spend 40-plus hours a week with, and whose kids' names you really should remember by now.
12 Pubs of Christmas
This is it. The big one. You feel like a runner on marathon day. The "Meeting Point" is a big, shitty Wetherspoons with like 23 floors. It’s only 12 PM, but everyone is here, everyone is in festive knitwear, and everyone is on it. Pints! Pints! Pints! LADS LADS LA—
You wake up at 2 PM the next day being asphyxiated by a bit of tinsel with no recollection of the past 20 hours. You have literally never been this hungover before. There must be some sort of psychological reason why you do this to yourself. Four days later your card gets declined in the store, and you check your balance to find that you... somehow spent .. nearly... t** h****** bucks on IPAs and wasabi peas. You’re meant to buy your mom a spa day this year. She’s just going to have to pretend to like cheap fluffy slippers and a tube of hand cream, like she does every year.
Christmas Dinner at Your Apartment
You all chip in for some crackers and an expensive cut of meat from an actual butcher. Ben’s going to do his roasties, and you’re taking a crack at making a Nigella for dessert. Lovely. Shame it won’t happen, then, because the only day everyone is free is the Sunday after 12 pubs, so instead you’ll nap until 6 PM and then order a pizza on Seamless that gets left in its box when you realize you’ll immediately vomit if you so much as look at it.
Massive Christmas House Party
Your friends from student halls have invited you to a "sophisticated" mulled wine "soirée." Somebody has spent their entire Sunday afternoon crafting an extremely banter Facebook event. The cover photo is either the Greggs sausage roll nativity scene or a cartoon of some elves, onto which the various flatmates' faces have been inexpertly photoshopped using a free trial of Adobe. The event is called something like "MULLED // WINE // DUTTY // WINE" or "Mincemeat Pastries x Spicy Wine b2b set ft. Mistletoe Kisses." The description is the lyrics to " Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses, an ASCII art Christmas tree, or the Wikipedia description for "mince pies." By 11 PM somebody has been put to bed and the sensible housemate is drunkenly fussing over a big sticky mulled wine stain on the living room carpet. Suddenly it’s 3 AM, and all your cinnamon vodka is gone. The night bus home takes 90 minutes, and the next day at work is the worst day of your life.
Gloriously Tacky Night Out in Your Hometown
It’s your first day home, and you’re all tucked up in your mom’s Snuggie with a chocolate orange, queuing up Blue Planet on Netflix, when Liam from high school resurrects a group chat that has been dormant since April of 2014 with the immortal words "Anyone up for town tonight." Flash forward to 10:50 PM in the queue for some free-if-you-post-for-the-guestlist club that you used to frequent on an almost weekly basis between 2011 and 2013. Just like the old days, except you actually wear a coat to go out now. Bottles are a quid, so you have seven and briefly entertain the idea of moving back home, but then Ed Sheeran comes on and everyone goes mad for it, and you remember that no, you definitely don’t belong here any more. Still, at least the taxi home is only a fiver.
"Catch Up" with the "Girls"
A doodle poll was made in August, but you didn’t fill it in until the host got passive aggressive with you over email—"Hi hun, got your work email off Jess. Can you please fill in the doodle ASAP, need to decide on the date like tonight latest xo"—and you kind of hoped they’d choose a date you couldn’t make, but you have nothing else to do at home except watch period dramas and mainline Triscuits. Twenty minutes before you’re supposed to leave, you remember the Secret Santa—there was an entire day of deliberation before everyone settled on 20 pounds as a good price guide—and have to run out to the corner shop for a big box of Thornton’s while your mom speed-wraps some toiletries from her emergency present drawer. You drink pink wine while the host shows you pictures of the new apartment her and her boyfriend just put an offer down for. Your mom pops in to say hello when she picks you up on the way back from the grocery store, and you spend the rest of the evening sulking in front of The Crown while she makes pointed little remarks about how "that Rachel has done well for herself."
The Carol Service
This might just be my Church of England upbringing talking, but honestly, no festivities are complete without the chance to don some reindeer antlers and belt out "Away in a Manger" before getting quietly hammered on mulled wine in a church hall, while your grandma and her church friends compete over which of their grandchildren is the most successful.
Ugh, I’m not doing this one. You know what Christmas is.
Party at the House of Your Parents' New Middle-Aged Friends Who You've Never Met but Who Know Literally Every Detail of Your Life
You haven’t changed out of pajamas for three days, and it might be a good idea to go outside before you start developing bed sores, so you join your parents for a party at "Ian and Michelle's." Some things that will definitely happen at this party:
a) A woman called Karen will ask your advice about what kind of insurance her son should get.
b) You will entirely fail to explain what your job is to a politely confused lady called Leanne.
c) You’ll learn something you didn’t necessarily wish to know about your parents’ past lives.
d) Your dad will get absolutely hammered on whisky with the first friend he’s made since 1992.
e) Everyone will make a huge fuss over a toddler when they either sustain a minor injury or insist that everyone stops talking while they "perform" their "routine" of "The Sugar Plum Fairy."
It’s actually a banging party. Michelle adds you on Facebook the next day.
New Year's Eve
Nah, not doing this one either. Come on.
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