Author: Andy Jones
The Christmas adverts are on loop, everyone is drinking gingerbread lattes and RSVP emails are suddenly pinging into your inbox. In London this month, you’ll spend as long with a champagne glass in your hand as you do with your Oyster. Your blood type will soon be “canapé,” your morning status, “send coffee please.” That means it’s party season from now until 2019 - and less than 24 hours until a colleague stands over your desk demanding to know if you are coming to their event the following night.
Your boss might be there, your ex might be there, but, more importantly - you’re definitely going to be there. And there. And at the banqueting hall, bar, or for pre-drinks at that bit of the office they normally hold meetings in. Your Christmas party is arriving, fashionably late, just like you.
As well as RSVPing and thanking in advance the people who are organising it - which might guarantee you a better table - now you need to get your wardrobe sorted.
Get prepared. The best parties are often last minute but - if you go home to change first - the moment you’re sofa-bound and scrolling by yourself your mojo deflates.
Let someone else take the slack. Have all your clothes a short spin from your desk, cleaned, pressed and ready by leaving 3 - 4 party outfits at the dry cleaners. That way, you can go from work straight to your event, says Pete Rolfe, of elite event organisers PAVE London.
Then, turn your desk drawer into a night stand, says Rolfe. “First of December, stick toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash and mints or gum in your office drawer, as well as a fresh cologne. Also keep whitening eyedrops - eyes always give away hangover - and nobody will ever know the next day how many nightcaps you squeezed in on the way home.”
Looking good doesn’t just start with getting your jacket on. Schedule a visit to a fancy barber shop (Manifesto on Leather Lane is a great option in London) says Rolfe. “No matter how busy your party calendar, a hot towel facial massage as well as a short back and sides or stubble shape-up will keep you looking and feeling dapper way past New Year.”
The more you value that face, the more someone else will, right? Also, handy tip - no-one wants to faff with planning travel when you have wardrobe choices to perfect. Download a travel app - Sygic or TripIt are good starts. Simply whack in the party venue and what time you need to be there and it will map out your route, spot last trains home and avoid that snaking midnight Uber to nowhere. They can even recommend nearby late night bars, useful if you leave your party with more than just your jacket.
Expert tip: however many parties you go to this season, a fresh white shirt fits every dress code. Invest in a good, fitted one and then, if need be, maximise its potential with a set of dress studs for the full Casino Royale effect.
The hard rule of festive tailoring is acquiring a fitted jacket. It’s the first thing people see and simply adding or subtracting it can help you match any occasion.
Matthew Rochester, T.M.Lewin’s own director of buying and tailoring says if you can invest in two suits, you can get a multitude of looks to last you all year. “Buy two 3-piece suits, one in navy blue, another in charcoal in the same base fabric. Not only can you wear each as a unique suit, but you can also wear the waistcoat and trouser of the charcoal suit with the jacket of the navy one. Or, wear the waistcoat and trouser of the navy suit with the jacket of the charcoal suit. Alternatively, switch the waistcoats around in each to freshen it up, blue with the grey suit, grey with the blue suit.”
But give your stomach a workout first. A study by University of Michigan showed that drinking on an empty stomach meant the body took 45 per cent longer to process alcohol units, whilst whole grains, proteins and good fats were key to lining your stomach. Therefore, on the canapé table, think breads, houmous and lean proteins and avoid greasy foods which are more likely to make an unscheduled reappearance later on.
Always skip a round, swapping booze for a juice (especially if it’s one you’re buying, makes everything cheaper.) According to Medical News Today, drinking juice can help metabolise alcohol faster, but not affect your level of intoxication. Therefore, it’s a good ‘pause’ drink without sobering you up too much. Stick an umbrella and some ice in it, and no-one can tell you’re cheating.
In the room, you can’t get anywhere - love or career - if you forget people’s names. A major reason you don't recall names is you weren't completely listening says Ron White a dual winner of the USA Memory Championship who insists nobody has a bad memory, just a bad focus. “Someone says their name and two seconds later you don't know it. This is not a memory problem. It is a focus problem.”
Help yourself by saying their name back to them - i.e. “Nice to meet you, Santa Claus,” - not only does this build a connection, but hardwires it into your mental rolodex.
According to research from the University of Pavia, a little healthy gossip is good for both your career and love life as sharing personal secrets boosts oxytocin levels - the chemical which promotes bonding. Added bonus, oxytocin also boosts attraction levels, so win-win for you. Just make sure you keep your Mean Girls in check.
Instead, become the listener by asking all the questions says leading psychologist Dr Rob Yeung, author of “I Is For Influence.” He says, "Everyone loves the listener but everyone hates the gossip. The listener gets to milk all the info they need and run for it - the gossip gets their hands dirty. Keep your hands clean and you'll always be trusted."
Also, don’t fret if you’re the one who finds themselves talked about - especially in that new jacket. Yeung says, if you are in a team of more than three, then as you soon as you're not there the other two will talk about you. He says, “Don't fret about who talks about you, influence instead what they are saying by practicing good body language. Remember to think about your eye contact, how you hold your shoulders, the tilt of your head and - most importantly - what expressions you allow across your face.”
Finally, need an important connection? Just ask a mutual friend for an introduction. Those asked to be contact-builders will find a courteous request flattering and you’ll get what you need too, possibly with a few nice introductory words to boot.
Expert tip: If you get anxious before big events write down in detail a big success you had - a presentation, a hot date, a job interview - on a scribble pad beforehand. Dr Yeung says, whilst this might seem strange at the time, those who remind themselves of successes they have had are more likely to repeat them.