Holiday Party Essentials and Gift Ideas for the Walk of Shame

My partying days are long over, but the accumulated wisdom remains. Here are some essentials for your upcoming holiday parties - and the inevitable "Walk of Shame."

 

Mini Mood sprays are portable for your walk of shame after holiday parties.

 

Duh. Mini aromatherapy Mood Spray packs are purse portable for those uncomfortable post-party smells. Sample sizes of Apathy or Aggressive will clean the air with natural citrus essential oils. In a pinch, you could spray them on your skin (kind of like skin Febreze) to try and cover the booze smell before you head to the office from a strange apartment in the Jersey suburbs. You should also know that if you take a multivitamin BEFORE you go to sleep, your morning hangover will be dramatically reduced. #you'rewelcome

 

Years ago, there was this friend in my posse who always stayed out a little bit later than the rest of us. Inevitably, she'd knock on the door at 3 a.m. after losing her keys somewhere on South Beach. Just to be funny, we bought her a mini leg holster for Christmas (not this one, but this is the closest I could find) that she could strap to her leg. The PortaPocket is great idea - find one for your party girl that's small enough to hold a house key, cab fare, and a lipstick. It will be a hit!

 

A pair of roll-up ballet flats are handy for the gal who stayed out too late in platform heels. Jus' sayin'.

 

Perfect for the woman who goes straight to the office after a late night holiday party.

 

Palettes are perfect for the gal who goes straight to the office after a holiday happy hour that wound up going all night long. Baybeeeeee! This Bobbi Brown "Everyday" palette is one of my faves - just basic, professional, quality makeup in colors that will work for most everyone.

 But seriously - buy the mood sprays.

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Holiday Gift Guide: The Office Edition and/or Gift Ideas for Procrastinators

During my cubicle years, most everyone would have said I was a social person. Back in my youth? If I forgot a colleague's birthday, it was definitely on purpose. (Now, I'm pressed to keep track of my own birthday.)  And yet...in my youth...I had absolutely zero desire to organize any kind of secret gift event for the office. Perhaps this was a sign of the shifting sands yet to come?

I don't really know. I remember signing up to participate, of course, and, of course, being super excited by all the amaaaaaaazing creative gift ideas I was going to pull off in my free time. You know. When I got home at 9 p.m. from my two-hour commute. Or 10 p.m. After I finished my evening classes. You know how this story is going to end, right?

It's going to end with an admission about how none of that ever happened and the night before the gift was due to be cubicle-delivered I just went to the People's Drug in Bethesda to shop the AS SEEN ON TV section; trying not to bump into a whole bunch of other people from the office doing exactly the same thing. Which is why I want to start this Office Edition Gift Guide off with:

 

The Clapper is the perfect gift for a colleague.

 

The Clapper. Seriously. Why? Because everyone secretly kinda wants one but is simply too ashamed to self-purchase. Do your colleague this favor and snap one up today. Don't go to People's Drug of Bethesda, though. Because they knocked it down and built a huge tower in its place.

 

 

If you don't like your colleague enough to spend $22.95 on a Clapper, then go with a more affordably-priced option: The Chia Pet. My personal fave has always been the Chia Barack Obama, and I think it goes without saying that Barry could use a little support right now. I mean, sure, this health care thing is a complete and total mess - but he's trying, you know? And anyone trying to do anything new with our government deserves a pat on the back just for that alone.

Which leads me to one of the newest products in the Anti-Bad-Mood Sprays' store - the "At least you're still TRYING" award ribbon. Just $4 and it's going to pin up nicely on the cubicle walls of any investment trading floor or hidden in the back office at Lululemon next to a picture of a kinda fat girl. It would also be a super add-on to a bottle of Passive or Aggressive aromatherapy mood spray.

 

This ribbon is perfect for passive-aggressive coworkers.

 

If the ribbon doesn't go over, you might try the "Sorry I am Such An Asshole" balloons. Also cheap, but funny! And really pretty perfect for work colleagues for so many reasons, at so many times of the year. Any balloon-selling florist or supermarket will be able to fill these with helium for you for less than a buck.

 

Sorry I am Such an Asshole Balloons for home or office.

It goes without saying that every office needs a set of aromatherapy Anti-Bad-Mood Sprays. Just for the SHARED RESTROOM alone. Or people microwaving fish. When I think back to my cubicle days I think, first, of the smells. Natural citrus, people. That's what it's all about. Start with the travel size mini mood sprays - under $10 and portable enough to slip into a pocket before you head into the stalls. Every office has That Guy. Mood Sprays smell good and help improve your mood - but they are also formulated to de-stink office kitchens; restrooms; and everywhere else.

 

Aromatherapy mood sprays in travel sizes.

 

Now, if you *like* your coworkers...consider giving them the gift of Reddit Gold.

 

If you don't know about reddit, then just keep scrolling to the next thing.

 

Another great gift for office colleagues is a Fridge Locker. As far as I can tell, 90 percent of submissions to PassiveAggressiveNotes[dot]com are sent by people who have had their lunch stolen from the office refrigerator.

 

Finally, a useful - but somewhat spendier gift - would be a white noise machine. A personal fave is this one from Hammacher Schlemmer. Just a glorified fan in a box, but it does help the creative mind who just needs quiet to f***ing concentrate and write.

 

So that's it! My 2013 Holiday Gift Guide: Office Edition. How about you? Do you give gifts at the office during the holidays? What did you give last year? What was the best item you've ever received?

 

 

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Questions to Ask at a Job Interview

A list of questions you should ask during your job interview.

Questions to Ask at a Job Interview.

 

I came across this list of questions on Pinterest - the current source of everything worth knowing. The full article was written by Erika Brandt, Marketing and Communications Manager for AgCareers.com.

What struck me about the list was how dramatically different my life might be if I had asked even a few of them when I was interviewed for some of the jobs I've had.

An unhappy work environment matters. It can squash employees' initiative and derail the mission away from long term organizational goals in favor of placating supervisors from moment-to-moment.

Performance measurement is another sticky subject. What if they told you performance would be measured not by the list of tasks in the job description but by your ability to navigate someone's mood swings? Or that you'd be required to fill out a twenty page performance review sheet each year, that your review would always be three months late, and that your supervisor spends less than ten minutes reviewing your prepared documents beforehand?

I'm not naive enough to believe that an interviewer would give away some of the more complicated (and unhappy) nuances of the corporate culture, but looking back I'd rather like to see how interviewers reacted when asked to describe it.

Looking back, I think body language is one of the most telling (and overlooked) clues to corporate culture. I remember visiting an office over the course of several interviews and noticed that no one was talking or smiling. The HR assistant was visibly unhappy and unpleasant to work with over the course of the two month interview process. Of course I took the job. And of course it was just the tip of the misery iceberg.

During an interview at another company I noticed that the office environment was complete chaos. The interviewers were unprepared and seemed to just ask questions that came into mind instead of probing for specific skills and responses. Employees randomly wandered around interrupting one another and our interview, which was happening in the middle of a busy room. One person scheduled to be part of the interview process was unable to leave her desk because no one else would answer the phones.Of course I took the job. And of course the crazy I observed in that brief time in the office was only the tip of the chaos iceberg.

I love this list of questions and I hope you'll ask them at your next interview. I would also like to suggest that you carefully observe the office on the days you visit. Consider that what you see is the office on their "best behavior." And decide whether or not you can live with that behavior pushed all the way to the far edge. It's difficult to do when you need a job, but saying "no" to a miserable work environment can be the difference between a good life and, well...

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