If there’s one thing corporate America loves, it’s doling out an office pizza party. You hit your numbers for the quarter? That’s an office pizza party. A longtime worker is returning? Having a baby? Hitting a milestone birthday? Pizza party, pizza party, pizza party.
Of course, most employees would prefer, I don’t know, a raise compared to some dough, sauce, and cheese (maybe some toppings, if you’re lucky). Employee appreciate in the form of actual dollars in the bank account will always be more fulfilling than a slice or two, so I don’t blame you if you’d prefer to skip the office pizza party altogether. But what about the potential fallout from that decision? Will you be thought of as less of a team player around the office?
Under many circumstances, yes. That is, unless you employ one of the following tactics to get you out of making an appearance at the party without losing any of the goodwill you’ve built up amongst your boss and colleagues.
Offer to help plan the party
Planning office parties is a thankless task. Most offices aren’t going to have a designated event planner, so the responsibility often falls on whatever employee is willing to take it on. Because of this, whoever bites the bullet and plans the party earns a certain level of martyrdom, and with that status comes the flexibility to not attend the party.
Ultimately, it’s a worthwhile proposition. Is it a small pain to plan the office pizza party? Of course it is. But the amount of time you spend putting in the pizza order and making sure there are plates and napkins in the kitchen is far less than the amount of time you’d have to spend at the actual party, idly making small talk with your coworkers. Once that party is up and running, you’re free to get out of there. And no one will be able to say a thing about your departure, because you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Say you’re using the time to do work
The point of going into work is, ultimately, to do your work. So if there’s a pizza party on the books, but you tell your coworkers that you aren’t going to make it because you have some work you need to do, they really can’t begrudge you for that. It’s an ironclad excuse. After all, you wouldn’t accuse a surgeon of not being a team player for not making it to the monthly birthday gathering—they, presumably, have more important things to do.
Tell your coworkers you’re about to close a deal; they won’t ask questions. They’ll be happy for the prosperity of the company and won’t Think twice about what’s actually just your convenient excuse to get out of drinking warm Sprite with the accounting department.
Schedule a doctor’s appointment
The odds are you’ll know of any pending pizza parties at least a week or so in advance. You’re probably overdue on a doctor’s appointment anyway, so you might as well get the most proverbial “bang for your buck” out of them as possible. Tell all of your coworkers you’re bummed to miss the gatheringbut unfortunately, 4:30 pm on a Friday is the only time your dentist had available—and it’s not like they’re going to call your dentist’s office and find out they were available every day this week.
Make up an excuse
This is definitely the riskiest of the options because “making up an excuse” is really just a code for “lying.” But desperate times call for desperate measures. The key to a good “excuse” is a blend of specificity and vagueness. You can’t just say, “I’m sorry, something came up.” But saying, “I’m sorry, something came up with my son at school?” Now you’re cooking with gas. Most people are not going to pry for more information about something like that; and they’ll think whatever you’re dealing with is decidedly worse than an office pizza party.
Of course, the threat here is getting caught in a lie will ultimately hurt your social standing in the office and brand you as not a team player. But if you’re willing to take that chance, making up an excuse is your ticket out of the office and onto the freeway home.
I’m going to be radically honest with you. The success rate for this one is low, and the odds of it backfiring are high. But it’s an option I still want to lay out on the table for you. If you don’t plan on going to the office pizza party and someone asks you why you, tell them the truth. These are your coworkers, not your friends, and you have no compulsion to eat pizza with them. Some people might get offended, but others might respect you for the directness. It’s not like they really want to go either.