Monday, December 15, 2008
The Design Associates Holiday Office Party Extravaganza 2008 was a smashing success. And while I tried really hard to be polite and share credit, I know I did indeed have a major hand in guiding the vision and managing the activity and actually building some of the props (as well as cutting about 90%-95% of the paper and wallcovering used to screen the back parts of the office with). If I were to post pix of the office party, it might out me, so I'll refrain for now. But y'all, the place looked GREAT. I mean, stunning. Folks who had left the office Friday afternoon returned 24 hours later to see a completely differnt place. Suddenly it was 1961, and everyone was in a hip, early Modern office, their grandparents' living rooms, a back-room poker den, a late-1950s recording studio, and a cheezy-awesome tiki lounge.
Yours truly was a receptionist at a fake front desk, in our office foyer, and I made a fake wall that screened the complete fantasticness behind it. As people came in, I copped a Brooklyn accent made weary by too many fast-talking men, cheap booze, and Lucky Strikes and just gushed over everyone as period as I could: "Oh, dawling, look at you! Like a regular Jack Kennedy! Honey if you run again in '64 I'm voting for you, you can count on it!" "Oh, someone gave me grief over my fur stole, and I said, 'look honey, I didn't kill it, it died naturally and left me everything it had'." "Go on in, dawlings; there's poker and a tiki lounge and the partners are mixing drinks, it's just crazy in there!" "My husband's in the poker den, and he's had a few so you might be able to take his money, but if he's sober he's a regular Danny Ocean, y'know?"
People just ate it up. Hence, yours truly also won best female costume, which said a lot since there were some gals in attendance doing a perfect Jackie O with the pillbox hat and the whole nine yards. I wore the dress Mom made me, plus a vintage fur stole that Dame Judith loaned me. She knows I really don' t like to wear fur, but to stay vintage I made an exception here. The room/set concept worked really well, since it gave people a reason/excuse/way to mingle and move about the office--what's in this room? I haven't been in here yet. Oooh! Cool!
Zahara (a contractor with whom I worked at MHRC) was envious when I sent her photos of the event. Some of Guy's coworkers are even jealous. That I really love: Acme Architects, Guy's office, had six months and more than three times our budget, and we only had four weeks, one of which was Thanksgiving week. Ha! We rule! Okay, that's a little bit like bragging there, but...we really turned lemons into lemonade. The party committee approached the challenges of a short timespan and superlean budget like a design project in studio back in college, and we called on our college-like resources to make it happen. We scoured eBay, Craigslist, estate sales, and the homes and basements of everyone we knew that was alive in 1960 in order to find affordable items. We had a set of criteria for each prop (piece of furniture, bowl, dish, picture, rug, whatever): is it inexpensive? could I use it in my own home? Could I reasonably expect to sell this on eBay or Craigslist again once the party is over? Is it period-accurate? Is it okay if someone stains or chips it? Once the item passed our litmus test, it was purchased and brought into the office, and it found a home in one of the sets.
Each decorating idea was given a similar litmus test: how can we make a fake wood-panel wall? Could we print out a dark wood grain on the color plotter? Too expensive. What if we paint cardboard with a wood graining tool? Too time-consuming. What if we apply wood-grain contact paper to the cardboard? Just right. Time and again, we checked the decorations against our criteria, made a decision, and moved on it. Oddly enough, the two top people were often bypassed just so we could get things done. I bought furniture at a vintage gallery, and several interns bought furniture and decorations online and in party stores before we knew the budget (which we knew would be small but we didn't know how small) because we knew we had to act. We just stayed frugal and responsible and decided to ask forgiveness rather than permission. And it worked marvelously.
Having said all this, I will also never do this again. I was a nervous wreck for three weeks, and while I spent some time in the steam room at our condo last night, I stil have a couple of knots in my back that I can't loosen. (If I lay right however, Maddy might stand on me. Too bad she's no longer heavy--I could really use some feline acupressure.) I think managing an office party is like the chicken pox--you only have to have it once, and you're done for good. I think it overall made me look good, it made the office look good, it brightened everyone's spirits, and a good time was had by all.
Now it's time for me to do my Christmas cards, which I've been shirking in order to do this party. I've also gotten some good questions and comments emailed to me and posted on here lately, and they deserve their own posts.
Posted by Mile High Pixie at 5:41 PM