It's that time of year again. While your non-freelance colleagues are cracking open the champagne and shutting the studio early for an epic Christmas party, you're stuck at home watching the fun unfold on Twitter.
The festive period can be a lonely old time for freelancers. Secret Santa isn't the same when it's just you, and even Bob Dylan's Christmas album can get tedious, fast, when you're on your lonesome.
But don't feel sad. Are work Christmas parties really that good? If you're feeling the self-employed blues, let us remind you of a few reasons why work parties really aren't all that…
01. The free booze
Free booze might sound like a good thing at first, but face it: your tolerance isn't what it was. Telling your boss what you really think, twerking on the dance floor and accidentally head-butting the receptionist while slurring a story isn't appropriate behaviour. The flashbacks alone will haunt you for months – and you can kiss goodbye to any chance of a bonus.
02. The honest drunk
If it's not you, it'll be them. Christmas parties are a recipe for over-sharing. Even if you stay on your best behaviour and resist demanding a raise, beware the sloshed colleague who thinks it's a fine opportunity to let rip on your latest design, fashion sense or chances of getting that coveted promotion. The worst part about these unwelcome exchanges is once the perpetrator has you in their clutches, they'll never let you go.
03. The dancefloor
Breakdancing. Air guitar. The worm. We've already covered twerking... Fuelled by a heady mix of booze and boredom, even the unlikeliest of candidates can transform into a beast on the dance floor. Except your moves don't look like they do in your head, and might damage others (as well as your pride – more on that next).
04. Mobile phones
Yep, there's always someone on hand with a mobile phone to happily record your descent into oblivion. Watch in horror the next day as that video of you trying to light the wrong end of a cigarette (you don't even smoke) circulates to everyone on internal email, before taking its rightful place on Facebook.
05. The mistletoe bearer
You can guarantee if there's a branch of mistletoe on offer, somebody will become that person. But whether they're forcing colleagues into awkward pecks or facilitating a full on swapping of saliva, the outcome always ranks highly in the cringe stakes. Remember: there are some things you can't un-see.
06. £50 taxis
It's easy to miss the last train home – and don't those taxi drivers know it. Assuming you're able to remember where you live and can project the image of someone unlikely to vomit during transit (despite this heroic behaviour, in fact) you'll still be slapped with a hefty taxi bill at the end of the night.
Christmas parties aren't all they're cracked up to be. But if all this hasn't convinced you that you're not missing out as a freelancer over the festive season, then remember this: unlike your hungover PAYE compatriots, you don't have to go to work the next day if you don't want to.
Happy Christmas to all freelancers!
For a host of expert freelance advice and insight – whether you're just starting out or a seasoned professional – don't miss Computer Arts issue 249, a freelance special issue, on sale 8 January 2016.
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