You know the feeling: You're at a holiday party that you either didn't want to attend or realize that you shouldn't have attended. You can't find a polite or other exit because you came with someone else or committed to stay. And you are dying inside of boredom or shame and contemplating faking a heart attack to get out of this sorry POS called a holiday party.
You, my friend, are a holiday hostage. And I'm here to make sure this never happens to you again.
Here are the basics for avoiding becoming a holiday hostage.
1) First, have a game plan that includes a lot of "noes". Before all the holiday events start appearing in folks' minds and on your schedule, find out the ones you want to avoid and calendar in conflicting appointments on your calendar. No one has to know that those appointments are with yourself. If anyone asks if you can attend something, tell them, "I need to check my calendar," followed with, "I'm so sorry, but I committed to getting together with my old friend Mia." They don't need to know that "Mia" is short-hand for "Me, uh, myself, and I." Even better: Tell them you're getting together with THREE dear old friends (Me, myself, and I). They don't need to know who they are.
2) Second, if you have to attend an event, always, ALWAYS, drive yourself. Let any passengers know that when you're ready to go, they either have to leave with you or find a way home. The easiest way to become a holiday hostage is to agree to ride with someone else. There have been events where Black Man Not Blogging (BMNB) and I have ridden in separate cars because I refused to be a hostage.
3) Third, if you can't drive yourself, have someone fake call you with an emergency that will force the driver to take you home. Any woman who dated in the '90s knows this trick: You have your girlfriend call you in the middle of a first date with a fake emergency so you'll have an excuse to leave if you want to. Apply the same to holiday events. If you're enjoying yourself, you stay and thank her for the call. If not, you alert your driver promptly of your "emergency." Who knows? Your driver might want out of this event, too. Even better: Have your driver place the fake call.
4) If you can't drive by yourself because you are going with a spouse or significant other, have an escape code word or phrase. This code word or phrase, once worked into conversation, is your signal that one of you is ready to go and the other better hustle up and git to gittin'. Your code word or phrase needs to be something that will catch your spouse's or significant other's attention without catching the attention of your hosts or other guests, and it needs to be something that isn't so mundane that it would be overlooked. Try a current event and build your code word or phrase around that event. For example, if your code word or phrase is "cadaver dog," build it around the earthquake in Turkey, to wit: "Hey, have you been following the news about that earthquake in Turkey? I hear they've flown in cadaver dogs from the United States to help with the recovery." The earthquake in Turkey is still current news, and "cadaver dog" is enough to get your spouse's attention without alerting others, to wit, whispering in your spouse's or significant other's ear: "If you don't bring your sorry ass on, they're going to need a cadaver dog to find you when I'm done."
5) If you have to ride with someone else for whatever reason and can't have a code word or phrase, bring your favorite alcohol. If you're going to be a holiday hostage, might as well be a drunk one. Instead of feeling bored or ashamed by the event, BECOME the event. Get drunk off your ass, do a strip tease, and make sure you'll never be invited again. Problem solved.
Unless, of course, it's your office party, in which case you might find a pink slip waiting for you when you get back to work.