Your cubicle-mate is really a fine person. Really. Okay, maybe she’s got some weird habits here and there (that growing gum collection on the underside of her desk is getting a bit unruly), but all in all, she’s not a bad person to share space with through the grind.
Despite that, you’re not exactly tres thrilled that she’s invited you to the holiday soiree she’s throwing at her pad. You can only imagine what her social circle is like given her quirky behavior. You can tolerate it, and even enjoy it, at work. But, personal time is personal time. Period.
So, let’s get you set up with a nice response or two – sound like a plan?
Your tactical maneuvers begin around mid-November (yes, like, now). Start listening intently to discern the date of the party prior to getting the actual invitation. Prepare for a verbal invite. Knowing the date in advance will help you determine your “previous engagement” so you can deliver it confidently at the moment of ask rather than delaying a week or two and looking like you’re lying.
Chances are good the party will be on a Friday or Saturday. So, get to work on booking your calendar up every Friday and Saturday until the holidays pass. You can lay in all of your family stuff right off the bat. Make a list of things you’d like to do this season and then parse them out over the course of the six-week period. Voila! You’re all booked up!
Create an alliance with another, reliable, co-worker. Surely you’ve formed a close bond with at least one person in your workplace – someone who shares your dislike for holiday parties with your colleagues. Take a Survivor-style bunker stance and stick together in the office. When your invitation comes, you guys can help each other out. “Don’t we have that thing that night?” “Oh yeah, we’re roller skating with Angela for her birthday!” See? You blanked, but he saved the day. Or, the shoe may be on the other foot. You’ll have to save the day.
The best advice is to be prepared. Know what you’re going to say. Or, just bite the bullet and go to the party. You never know what you might see that you can use to your benefit next week at work!