Free food and liquor are all the ingredients I need for a holiday party. But it was unfortunate that the festivities were limited to employees. We may have been sipping champagne between keystrokes, but it was a workday, and no spouses or dates were allowed.
There's a unique dynamic present when you have a date at a holiday office party. The non-employee gets to see his or her date interact with co-workers in a non-work environment. Since we all tend to wear different faces in our various social cubicles (work, school, family, friends, lovers, strangers) a work party may reveal a side to your lover that you've never seen before. Suspecting an office flirtation? Nothing like a little spiked eggnog to bring it to the forefront. Think your lover is a deadbeat who does the bare minimum to keep the job? You find out from the co-workers over cheese and crackers.
This is a great opportunity to find out what others think of your mate. And you may be lucky enough to find out what, if anything, your lover is saying about you.
Don't be surprised if you don't get invited to your lover's holiday party. Although some companies may indeed have a no outsiders policy, your date may simply not want you there. If you don't know anyone else at the party, your date may feel compelled to entertain you all evening, thus restricting other socializing.
Or your mate's coworkers may not know you exist. That may not be as bad as it sounds. Believe it or not, some people keep their work life and their private life separate, and don't gossip about the love life at work. Therefore, don't be hurt if your beau or girlfriend wants to go to the party alone. You can always have your own private party afterwards.
Depending on the type of work you do and the size of the company, the holiday party can be great fun for you and a date. Personally, I work primarily for a company with the lamest, cheapest, most pathetic holiday party that I wouldn't attend at all if I didn't have to. The food is chintzy, there's no booze, and it takes place during the workday. And no I'm not allowed to bring a date. To balance that out, my man's place of employment has always had a party where the eats are plentiful, the booze flows freely, the atmosphere is festive and non-employees are embraced.
Most people have to attend holiday parties because of the politics of it all. But I hope that most of you get to have a real party and attend because it's fun. And if you get to find out that your date spends his free time photocopying his genitals on the Xerox machine during his breaks, so much the better.