Ode to Mise en Place: Office Party Edition

It’s the long anticipated return of Poppy Fields!

Poppy is here to tell us how a little Mise en Place can significantly simplify your end-of-year office office obligations, and how being on our best behavior at an office party can save us a bunch of heartache.

Welcome back, Poppy!


What better way to celebrate the end of the year with a little Ode to Mise en Place – Office Party Edition. I am firmly planted in the corner that it is better to overdress than underdress for an event. One can brazen out a de trop ensemble when everyone else is business casual far more easily than showing up in a ratty tee and ripped jeans only to discover that it is a black-tie dinner.

Read your invitation

Friends, I really must insist, please, please, please read your office party invitations.  We in the administrative departments truly do not send out these emails for our own giggles.  There is genuinely beneficial information we are bestowing on our co-workers in these missives.  

Who: Employees Only OR Employee Plus One, OR Employee and Family (bars are not good places for children – just saying)

What:  Holiday Party, Seahawks Viewing Party, Harry Potter Halloween Party (these are very different events)

Where:  Museum of Flight, The Space Needle, the bar at the restaurant across the street, or the cafeteria

When:  This is very specific – take note.  Friday is NOT Monday.

Why: Probably to have some fun

Dressing for the party

Regarding dress for an office party:  Should the party be at a museum you can bet shorts and flip-flops are not appropriate dress.  However, if the party is a luau, by all means, dig through your closet for the loudest Hawaiian shirt and wear it proudly.  Holiday parties tend to be tricky, as the event could very well be quite fancy, but it could also just be “come as you are”.  This however does not mean you should wear the hoodie you have been wearing all day.   I can speak with some authority on this as I work for a gaming company.  Techies really do live in hoodies.

If the event is a Harry Potter Halloween party – you may want to check that the Sorting Hat is indeed going to sort you into Gryffindor, as you arrive in your red and gold glory only to discover that you are placed in Hufflepuff!  Please – no hate mail – I am a proud member of Hufflepuff.  We are earnest, hard-working and loyal.  I just know how proud you Gryffindors are!  As the resident Sorting Hat at our Harry Potter Halloween party – I can tell you – there was a seriously tense moment when our Vice President was being sorted and he could have gone either way – Gryffindor or Slytherin.  Being the gracious Sorting Hat that I was, I allowed him to choose which house he wanted to be in, just as the Sorting Hat allowed Harry Potter to choose.  I believe our VP selected Slytherin.  It quite fit.  

Unless you live in Florida or Hawaii, it will be quite chilly here in the Northern Hemisphere when we start the round of holiday parties in December. I have always thought that women’s fancy dress is supremely unfair, because the most beautiful dresses and ensembles normally do not take into consideration the weather.  Never fear! I have solved this riddle. As someone who does not enjoy wearing skirts or dresses, may I suggest as a go-to ensemble for a Holiday Party – wearing a velvet blazer, blingy top, nice pants (or some super snazzy jeans can work too) and fabulous heels.  Voila!  Your shoulders are covered and you get to wear velvet!  

While I have your attention regarding the subject of office parties – I am going to preach a little longer. I hesitate to say I have “seen it all” throughout my varied career, but it could be darn close. There are truly things one just cannot make up.

Office Party Etiquette

Things you should not do during an office party or forever regret them later:

#1: Dress like a tart 

#2: Drink alcohol

#3: Accept poker chips for “services rendered”    

#1: Ladies – do not dress like streetwalkers. Shorter skirts are not better. Fishnet hose are NEVER (and I am going to repeat this word here) NEVER acceptable. Platform heels – NOT classy.

Additionally, if you are like me and do not wear skirts or dresses very often, please do yourself a favor and consider your Mise en Place. I know in some parts of the United States, wearing hosiery is considered déclassé. However, really there is no reason not to wear black hose with your little black dress when it is cold outside. Ensure your only pair of black hose do not have runs before you are five minutes from leaving the house! If you have decided on the velvet blazer with a fancy top option, make sure that the pants you are wearing will not need a big-buckled belt that will leave an unsightly bump under your top, or find a belt that has the invisible closure! These are small, but very important details that will ensure your holiday party success.

#2: I know, I know, it’s a party. Why not celebrate with a cocktail or a glass of wine? I’m going to tell you why you should stick with Perrier. One martini may lead to two martinis that will lead to telling your boss exactly what you think of them. Or those two shots of whiskey will curb your inhibitions just enough to grab the microphone and start singing along to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”. Nobody needs to hear that.

#3:  So, back before I started working for the gaming company, they used to host a huge Gaming Convention here in Seattle.  One year as part of the convention, they hosted a Casino night at the Seattle Aquarium.  It was from what I hear a fantastic party and I only wish I could have been there.  Hundreds of people were invited along with game developers and other tech-type companies.  Lots of people.  Lots of people the organizers of the event didn’t know.  There were custom-made poker chips with the company’s logo.  This was not real money.  It was just for fun.   A week or so after the event, a phone call was routed to the finance department at the office, from a girl who had attended the casino night soiree.  The reason for the call?  She wanted to know how she could cash in her casino chips for “services rendered” later that night after the party.  Just so we are clear – “services rendered” is EXACTLY what you are thinking.  The poor girl was in tears and there was no one to blame but herself.  

As I take over Lily’s blog for the next couple days – we will continue our end of the year Ode to Mise en Place with some Mise en Place – Wedding Edition and Mise en Place – Vacation edition. Stay tuned!


Want a refresher on the ins and outs of Mise en Place? Start here!

This is Poppy Fields

She’s my sister and she is stepping in to man the oars of the blog for a few days.

She lives in Washington (state, not DC!) and has years of experience as an event planner and Mise en Place practitioner. She’s seen it all, and she has the stories to prove it!

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

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