At Christmas, the PR world's livelier instincts are given free rein to boost staff morale, waste surplus budgets before year-end and give younger staff a chance to see seniors embarrass themselves.
'Some of the early Lynne Franks PR parties were memorable. I remember one where waiters carried dwarfs on silver platters. Frank's chairman, Graham Goodkind, who was then MD of Lynne Franks, used to transform himself each Christmas into cabaret singer character Tony Macaroni to compere the celebrations. Macaroni was an extremely funny cross between Tom Jones and Frank Spencer. Some would say Graham missed his true calling! My favourite was one where he tripped over the mic cord and knocked himself out. He quit the world of showbiz after that, but we're hoping to lure him out of early retirement for our Christmas bash.'
'All the best parties involve sex and booze - but not necessarily in that order. In Singapore in the 1960s, we returned from six months in the jungle to spend Christmas with real live women and drink that wasn't warm and flat. The team decided that Bugis Street was the only place to finish the party. Our friend Bob was big, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and loved small women. It took him five minutes to select his target, and two minutes for the rest of us to realise that 'she' was not all that she appeared. Bob disappeared behind a pillar as we moved cars into position. On the signal, the headlights went on, and the shout went up: 'It's a bloke, Bob!'. We laughed so much that he emigrated to South Africa.'
'The weirdest Christmas party I have ever attended would be an office party when I worked in Sydney. We had an office on the harbour - a converted boathouse - and were having an excellent time. It came to the most important part, the presents, and the MD went to get them out of a cupboard. She opened it and started screaming. There was pandemonium About 40 crabs had scuttled into the office from the harbour and were crawling all over the presents and the dance floor. The best bit was that all of the men were too scared to get rid of the crabs and in the end it was the MD and her assistant who picked them up and escorted them back to the water. I don't expect anything similar to happen in England this year.'
'PR agency Christmas parties have become so important that at Mantra we have had two - one for press and one for staff. And in the new economy, the emphasis is on both originality and bang for your buck. At our 'Heaven and Hell' themed press party the beat and heat were just as important as the meet and greet. The funniest thing I witnessed was thankfully not the tequila body slammers or the late night rendition of Frank Sinatra tunes by certain members of the national press. It was, in fact, the distraught face of an employee of a PRWeek sister publication when he discovered that the business card he had handed out in good faith in fact contained the hand-written phone number of the girl from the night before. It was his only copy.'