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money minefield at the office Christmas party

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Christmas CrackerWe had our work Christmas do a few weeks ago. We were all treated to a meal out by the company - it probably came to about £25 a head. Each department does it’s own thing, so it wasn’t a great surprise the other day to find people glamming themselves up in the restrooms*.

As is often the case, they were discussing what had happened last year, and hoping the they would have more fun this year. There seemed to have been some problem with paying the bill a year ago, and one of the more junior members of staff ended up having to put a lot of it onto their credit card. All the girls agreed that this had been very embarrassing.

I think that these problems arise because it is never quite clear who will be paying for what, or how to split the bill, if say, drinks are not included. Nobody really likes to discuss money matters, which is fine if you are comfortably well off on a middle or senior management salary, but a little different if you are a struggling graduate, on a low admin wage or even just trying to get out of debt.

Stories such as the one that I half overheard are why I always like to carry enough money around to pay my own way, even if I’m pretty sure that someone else - like work - will be paying. I don’t want to leave someone else with an unexpected bill, nor do I like to be the one that has to pay it.

How does your workplace celebrate Christmas, and have their ever been any money issues?

*euphemism so as not to disturb the Yanks

Image of Christmas Cracker by roxeteer

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12 comments for “money minefield at the office Christmas party”

  1. That’s the problem with group bills.

    If more restaurants offered individual bills they would probably encourage more groups at their restaurant.


    Posted by FourPillars | December 18, 2007, 12:11 pm
  2. True. I guess it’s a lot of hassle for them. Or more hassle than they want anyway.

    When we go out more informally with work, we tend to go to places that either have a set menu / buffet or everyone orders and pays separately anway. Saves the hassle.

    Posted by plonkee | December 18, 2007, 1:23 pm
  3. In my department sometimes we have a potluck (which I really like, because I find it fun to cook/bake and also to try what other people make, plus it’s inexpensive), and other times we all go out for lunch. When we go out we each get separate bills and pay for our own meals. Sometimes someone will order something for everyone to share (wine, appetizers, etc.). There is also a buffet party put on for everyone (not just my department) which is held at the workplace.

    Posted by Monica | December 18, 2007, 1:52 pm
  4. Restroom?? We call them bathrooms over here, what is this restroom thing you speak of?

    I’ve had jobs where the company didn’t pick up the check (either by accident or by intent) and I had to pay for it. It’s just one of those things you have to be prepared for ‘just-in-case’.

    Posted by Randall | December 18, 2007, 1:54 pm
  5. Restroom, Bathroom, Toilet, Loo, we call them all here in my area of New England.

    For a situation like the above, I do always bring enough cash to pay my own way. For department get togethers I do prefer something like a buffet or a pre-pay for the meal. It’s no fun to be caught out at a holiday party. Would be really helpful if the payment arrangements were spelled out before the function. Does not always happen.

    Posted by bouncing betty | December 18, 2007, 2:59 pm
  6. The boss at my part-time job springs for everything at one of the nicest restaurants in town. It is one of the highlights of the year for my wife and I. Without this little gig, I probably would never had tried lobster, crab or filet mignon.

    We get every appetizer on the menu, but he is let off easy with my wife and I because we don’t drink. Our dinners usually cost about $50 apiece, I estimate that the dinners for those who drink are closer to $100 because the event lasts about 4 hours. My wife thinks he should give us a percentage of the savings. :)

    He always gives a very generous tip (of course) and I am sure that the servers fight over who will take care of us every year.

    It is one of the greatest displays of excess that I have ever witnessed, but I love every minute of it.

    Posted by rocketc | December 18, 2007, 4:47 pm
  7. I checked about my office Christmas party–apparently it’s all free. *whew* It’s at a really nice restaurant, and I didn’t want to end up with a huge bill.

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | December 18, 2007, 5:26 pm
  8. Obviously I like it best when work related events are free :) .

    @Randall and Bouncing Betty:
    I’m not sure whether or not I’m glad that I’m not the only one that’s seen this.

    You should invite me next time. I mean, I’ll just go and drink the alcohol you don’t if you like.

    @Mrs. Micah:
    Sounds like you should have a nice time - it’s even better to know in advance that it’ll be free.

    Posted by plonkee | December 18, 2007, 7:23 pm
  9. Our Christmas party was free - well, the meal and the wine with it was - other drinks were not. It still didn’t stop people moaning about the amount of wine they got though.

    Posted by Rob Lewis | December 18, 2007, 10:02 pm
  10. Well, at ours some people who don’t drink moaned about the amount of wine we got through, even though they weren’t paying the bill and it was none of their business. Still, never mind, we had a nice time.

    Posted by plonkee | December 18, 2007, 10:12 pm
  11. I don’t think I’ve ever paid for anything at an Xmas do. Or any other work do for that matter, beyond the odd boozy night with colleagues. Maybe back when I was bartending. Our place this year certainly paid for the food, booze, entertainment, and taxis. They did make the restaurant take all the expensive bottles out of the bar before all of us landed in though :)

    Posted by guinness416 | December 19, 2007, 1:00 am
  12. My company puts on a meal and dance at one of the nicer Hotels in town. The food and non-alcoholic beverages are included, and everyone gets two drink tickets for the bar (Hubby was pleased to have four to himself this year. I was not pleased to be stuck with Seven Up all night..stupid pregnancy). If you want more booze than that, you can pay for it at the bar. The company also pays for parking, or a cab home, or heavily subsidizes a room in the hotel for those coming from out of town. No excuse for drunk driving.

    As for other group functions, I haven’t yet run into a restaurant here that won’t do seperate bills if you ask them at the start of the meal, though the ritzier ones will often still force the 15% automatic gratuity on a large group. Toronto must be behind the times, Mike.

    The ‘* euphamism so as not to disturb the yanks’ made me snort. I got caught with that the first time I went to England. I was eight. I asked to use the bathroom in a restaurant and was told they didn’t have one. An accurate statement. No room containing a bath was present. Lesson learned.

    Posted by Fecundity | December 19, 2007, 10:08 pm

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