military etiquette, military traditions, milspouse, unit functions

How to Survive the Unit Christmas Party

It’s that time of year again. Time for the dreaded company holiday party.  For many of you this is an event that you have not only been wrangled into attending but potentially even contributing to.  This adds another layer dread… Company christmas parties really don’t have to be that terrible.  Dare I say it?  It could even be fun!

I have seen unit christmas parties in a ton of different forms over the years.  The tried and true fall back typically includes some combination of Santa Claus, a bounce house, and pot luck dinner.  Honestly, these are the best ones.  The kids strip off their shoes and run to that bounce house.  It’s like a giant playpen (don’t judge me) and they are safe and contained.  Or as safe as they can be in a bounce house (I have a love hate relationship with those things).  You are then free to load up a plate and mingle with other spouses.  If you’ve listened to me about reaching out to other spouses in the unit to help survive training exercises, you now also have a friendship life raft to hop on in these situations. Now lets breakdown what I just said… you are now kid free, with a hot meal you only had to make a small portion of, sharing a meal with friends…. Ain’t nothing wrong with that!

I know the potluck thing can be a bummer, but for most it’s not a huge commitment and your contribution does not need to be fancy nor do you have to make enough to feed the whole battalion or company!  The idea is that if everyone does a little, no one has to do a lot.  Usually a week or 2 before the event a section list will distributed by the FRG Leader with who is responsible for what.  At the Company level, usually each platoon has a different task.  So 1st platoon might have sides, 2nd Platoon desserts, 3rd platoon cups and plates etc.  It’s a pretty good system and usually works out that not only does everyone find something that they like, but with the different cultures mixed together in the unit, you get to try some traditional food that you wouldn’t normally be exposed to.  We have one spouse in my husband’s unit that always makes a paella (you by no means have to be that ambitious!) and I gotta say, I’m always super jazzed when she rsvp’s to a potluck!

Sometimes the unit wants to do something “different”.  These are the holiday parties that I am a little more wary of.  They are always great concepts that theoretically should be a lot of fun.  And sometimes they are!!  But sometimes they really, really aren’t.  Usually, these are the ones that are planned by soldiers.  And they have the best intentions in mind.  Prime example: the bowling party.  Free bowling and Santa pictures… How could that go wrong?!  At the company level, most of the children are younger than 1st graders.  That means super short attention spans.  What could be a lot of fun becomes chaos with super human levels of patience required.  I’ve been the mom yelling from the other end of the bowling alley to not pick up the bowling ball, to not put your hand in the ball return, to not run down the lane… and the list goes on.  All while trying to nurse an infant and having no place to put him when he was done because I couldn’t bring the stroller inside. Oh, and they serve beer there.  Soldiers and beer… loud, annoying, and sometimes off-putting.  This sentiment also applies to laser tag and paintball.  So just keep that in mind if any of these types of holiday parties are in the works this year.  Have a game plan, have an infant carrier, have an Ergobaby.  Whatever you gotta do to survive!  Overall, these tend to be the parties that the single soldiers and the couples with no kids enjoy more.  That’s the magic of the military.  Nothing ever satisfies everyone…. but someone is always satisfied!

What was the best holiday party you went to?  What do you wish they did differently?

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