Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday party etiquette for female postdocs

It's that time of year again. What do you wear/bring to a holiday pot luck at your intimidating boss's house? It depends what message you want to send, I guess. A few:

Message 1: I am working so hard for you that I didn't have time to make anything for the potluck. Are you kidding? I'm working so hard for you that I don't even know how to cook/dress myself.

Bring: Block of cheese, box of crackers straight from store.
Wear: Jeans, clogs.

Pro: Working! Hard! Also, lack of fashion sense will make you appear brilliant.
Con: May appear frazzled, unable to cope, not a team player, one-dimensional.

Message 2: I am so into working for you that I want to show my well-rounded family side at this pot luck. Please like me!

Dish: Something handmade, warm, comforting; two year old child.
Wear: Whatever. Concentrate on distracting attention away from your clothes and towards your warm casserole dish and cute child.

Pro: Warm comfort food nurtures hard-working academic types. Slight chance you may appear to be Doing It All.

Con: Risk appearing soft/distracted/probably about to go have ten more kids and leave your job behind. Childless guests may chuckle and be all what is it with the women having babies during their dissertations? Then you might have to stand there awkwardly, hoping your child knocks over a lamp or something so you can leave the conversation.

Message 3: I am confident in how hard I am working for you and am stopping in at this potluck.

Bring: Something pretty, healthy, possibly prepared by someone else; partner.
Wear: Something special occasiony.

Pro: Everyone wins when someone shows up in high heels. And pretty artisanal type food is a treat! Bring on the wheatberry! Convincingly appear to be Doing It All. Avoid appearing too needy.

Con: May trip in heels. May appear to have too much disposable income and lead others to conclude that you are secretly working for a pharmaceutical company and therefore not objective in your research. Very few cons.

It's all very complicated.


phd in yogurtry said...

And I thought I was the only one who thought like this. I always wore jeans and clogs (still do). But I would most likely bring hand made item without a whole lot of flare. In no way would anyone interpret me as "working too hard" but "frazzled" by life in general, a definate maybe. I got a real kick out of this post. I guess it touched my appearance neurosis.

bipolarlawyercook said...

Option No. 3, except from the sale rack at J Jill?

Grounded Girl said...

I'm guessing you went with door #2 (do you even own heels?). LOVED the window into your head! (But, again, that's why I read your blog!)

smalltownmom said...

At most of the potlucks I go to, there tends to be a lot of purchased food, and my dish will be one of the few made by scratch. Last year, I didn't have time to make something so I bought deviled eggs. And wouldn't you know it? Every single other dish was home made. You can't win.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I had no idea it was so complicated.

raineygirl said...

it seems that the appropriate "seattle" thing to do is bring something from a whole paycheck/trader joes showing your awareness of eating something good tasting but not having the time to do it yourself. i feel like those who bring the generic are sometimes looked down upon...

as far as fashion, in the middle is perfect- well dressed, put together without really looking like you were trying too hard.

Mama Nomad said...

my suggestions:

-bring a half-and-half make some rockin' dip but serve with a bag of chips.

-you can never go wrong with gold flats. they look sophistocated, but you are in no danger of falling if you have to chase the kidlet.

i am sure it will be fine! but i can't wait to hear the full report....

Lisa Milton said...

Complicated. If that word doesn't cover the holidays, I don't know what does.

Wendy said...

whew. i'd just call in sick.

J and J Acres said...

Oh man. I went through something like this last year for Mr. C's Christmas party. It wasn't a big deal, but I didn't want to wear something too revealing, or seem too stuck up, or... well, you get the drift. Let us know what you end up doing and bringing!

Heidi said...

Here's my advice: bring a bottle of wine (red, under $20, but good: shows you are comfortable with pretentious but can't afford more). That's all. Also communicates the time issue: got none. But says you know how to have fun. Dress? Got me there. Still got those cute black strappies?

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Anne-Marie said...

whatever you do, do not commit the ultimate Seattle potluck faux pas: no meat dishes! ;)

see you there! said...

You already have some good suggestions. The wine. The flat gold shoes.

I hate potlucks.


Magpie said...

Good lord. I'm glad my boss doesn't do parties. And if he did, I'd wear what I always do: jeans and a black top.

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