London is one of the greatest cities in the world, but with the average pint costing roughly the same as a flat in Milton Keynes, it isn't cheap.
Enter the work Christmas party. Your chance to scrape back some much-needed cash, one crap glass of wine at a time. But at what higher cost? Your self-respect, your job and your ability to hold down 15 tequilas.
Fear not – here are some tried and tested techniques to getting the most out of the festive free bar with your dignity intact.
1) Don’t go
We can hear the cries of protest now: 'But what about the free prosecco?!' Don't get your novelty Christmas knickers in a twist. We're not saying you should forgo the season to get drunk and make a tit out of yourself completely. But why do it in front of people who you know and can use it against you? Go to someone else's instead! Some of the flashier companies in the city extend the invitation to get wasted in the name of Baby Jesus not only to their employees, but their loved ones too. In short, you can consume enough alcohol to kill a small horse, leaving a trail of destruction and bodily fluids behind you and not have to worry about repercussions. It's probably worth mentioning that you might not want to pick a long-term partner for this – you don't want to risk your Christmas presents, after all.
2) Choose your target
All you need to do to survive the corporate Christmas activities is make sure that at least one person gets more wasted than you. Now, the easy target is obviously the office intern. They're young, naive and they still want to drink like they're at university. Add to that the fact that they're yet to discover the horror of the three-day hangover and it's only fair that they take the hit. All you have to do is whisper 'Jaegerbombs?' in their ear while walking past before returning an hour later to see them getting it on with the Christmas tree. This approach is, of course, pretty morally reprehensible – so to make sure you don't end up on the naughty list we recommend you deliver a bacon sarnie to their desk in the morning. It’s the least you can do.
3) Pull a Houdini
By this we don't mean get off with the magician (although if they're hot, who are we to judge?). The trick is getting there early and condensing all your mandatory work socialising into an hour and a half, in which time you can get a full update on how Marge from HR is getting on with those pesky bunions, all the while quietly drowning yourself in vodka. When you feel that you're on the brink of no return (probably when you get the urge to demand Beyoncé) quietly make your escape out the back exit. Do NOT announce your departure. This will leave you open to pleas of 'Just one more!' and let's face it, your self-restraint isn't exactly robust. But don't worry, it doesn't mean the night is over. Throw yourself on the floor of the closest cab and hotfoot to your mates' place, where you can enjoy your alcoholic spoils with people who are used to seeing you in a worse state than Britney circa 2007.
4) Save it for a rainy day
This is your equivalent of a liquid savings account (and with alcoholic percentages higher than the average interest rate, who’s really winning at life – you or your mate who foolishly relies on an ISA?). The premise is simple. Take the biggest bag you can without arousing suspicion (we’re probably drawing the line at a suitcase here), seek the booze out like a drunken missile and stash as much as you can carry home. Some people would say this is stealing, but we say you don’t need negativity like that in your life. The fact is that you're going to consume this booze somehow, either in front of your colleagues, greatly increasing the chances of public nudity, or in the privacy of your own home, with only your cat to judge you. You’re doing everyone a favour by taking the safer, less naked option (except for Tiddles, that poor cat is doomed to see things that can’t be unseen).
Note: You obviously can't pour a double G&T in your handbag- unless you decant into a hip flask, which is something we are by no means discouraging. But this is a lot easier if you're at an event with bottles on the table.
5) Prepare for a marathon, not a sprint
If none of the above appeals and you’re determined to go all-in then forget 'eating is cheating'. That’s an approach for fools and people who don’t mind getting sick on their party-wear. Would you step into the ring with Mike Tyson without having had your Weetabix? Of course you bloody wouldn't. Then why go into drunken battle with your colleagues and a bottle of tequila with nothing but the disappointment of another wasted year to line your stomach? Booze consumption on this level should be considered an athletic endeavour. Show it the respect it deserves by preparing your body accordingly. Your finish line? The threshold of your flat, belongings and dignity intact. The following works as a good rule of thumb; for each sausage roll or questionable mince pie you manage to shovel down, another drink can be consumed without greatly increasing the chances of calling your boss a cock.
To put these tactics into practice, check out Christmas party venues in London.