1. BYOB. Bring your own baby, that is. It doesn't matter if the sitter came down with a case of bubonic plague. Make alternative arrangements. Call every pal you ever had and beg. Do not — repeat — do not strap on the Snuggly and bring the baby to the ball.
2. Complain about the food, décor, entertainment or venue. Be it ever so tacky or sub-par, someone with power over you is attempting to say thanks and/or show off. If you cannot be gracious, be silent.
3.Pull rank. Never ask a subordinate to get you a drink, give up a seat or let you break into the buffet line. This will inevitably come back to haunt you in ways obvious (the subordinate takes over the company) and/or subtle (the hotshot you're recruiting next week noticed and is now convinced you have no class at all).
4. Criticize your partner or spouse in front of co-workers. Before showing up, make a pact with each other. Or bribe Mr. or Ms. Loose Lips with whatever it takes as an after-the-party payoff. This is not the occasion on which to joke about how the little woman CFO always gets shortchanged at the supermarket.
5. Gossip. This means about anyone or anything. If you indulge, you will discover — without fail — that the guy you've been ignoring on your left is actually the brother of the woman on the dance floor you've been taking apart. What's more, he was at the rear of the elevator on the way up and heard your excited news about the interview you have scheduled next week at his nephew's cool new venture. Guess who really just got dished?
6. Bring up your championship season. Don't push aside the tables to perform the tango routine that — amazing! — you still remember. Don't send the bread barreling across the room to reproduce that record-breaking pass. Don't demonstrate your prowess at spelling eight-syllable words.
7. Run your ideology up the flagpole. OK, listen. We don't care that you're a vegetarian, libertarian, Rotarian or Scientologist. We further don't want to hear an evangelical lecture about gardening, macrobiotic diets, Broadway musicals or whatever happened to Jimmy Hoffa. We also refuse to measure the exact weight — or lack thereof — of Ralph Nader's gravitas. It's a party. Move it along.
And best wishes for a very wise silly season.