It’s the holidays again. A time of cheer, merriment and a last chance for freelancers to write a few more invoices before the year is out.
It’s also the time for holiday parties. These occasions of great extravagance and monumental stinginess can be wonderful opportunities to spread the HLF way and more practically, extend a current booking or help you receive the greatest gift of all, a new gig.
What’s HLF, you ask? The HLF, or Helpful Little Fucker, is a character I play when I’m freelancing. Maybe you do, too. The HLF is the manifestation of post-recession corporate America, “Making the best of it” resourcefulness and remorselessness.
The HLF is very passionate about paying the mortgage.
You may be thinking, “You’re just another fake, suck up asshole” Not true. I pretend to be a “fake, suck up asshole.” There’s a difference.
The reason I find the HLF to be so useful is that he is completely contrary to my actual personality. I can do so many things as the HLF that I could never really stomach. In reality, I’m sensitive and care about things that matter. That will never get you anywhere in the corporate world. As the HLF, I can approach mind-numbing and soul-crushing tasks with a collaborative spirit and unbridled enthusiasm.
Ask anyone: I’m a beam of light in an otherwise desperate, bankrupt corporate desert. Or at least I pretend to be.
Let the HLF Handle the Stress of the Holidays
There’s so much pressure to spread the cheer during the holidays. You know what? People don’t know it, but they love fake cheer just as much as the real thing. Don’t get consumed trying to summon a child-like wonder of the holidays. Pretend! Who knows? Maybe you could even get in on the office Secret Santa gift exchange. Of course, save the receipt for tax purposes.
PRO TIP: Can’t fake it? Use props. A Santa hat works wonders.
Wow! What a Party!
No matter if the company party is held in the lobby or a Shakey’s Pizza, make sure everyone knows that you think it’s a great party. The best ever.
Even if you’re standing around a caked-over 6 oz. tub of hummus sharing a single pita chip, the only proper response for a faithful HLF is to declare “I don’t know, I think the crust adds something” and platitudes of gratitude for all that made this smashing affair possible.
PRO TIP: Sign up for karaoke early and often and be sure your songs are duets you can share with your office besties.
Holiday Party Chitchat
Once you’re at the party, things can get tricky. Staffers will try and suck you into their vortex of hate and despair. Remember, you’re not a staffer. You're an HLF. Before a tipsy partygoer goes into the “So-and-So is a controlling asshole” convincingly sell the lie that you that you love everybody, especially So-and-So. Every single person in the entire organization is a gem and this holiday party is the place to let them all know it.
PRO TIP: Tell people your New Year’s Resolution is to express more gratitude and say with utter sincerity, “Thank you, So-and-so. I’ve learned a lot working with you.” If that asshole asks for specifics, tell them you’ve always appreciated their ability to correctly read a situation.
for Your Time
Party time unfortunately is not work time. This is especially painful for freelancers since it may result in lost hours. This means you have to find alternate compensation for your party going time. This can be as simple as making the most of the buffet table. Always go for the high-ticket items first. Shrimp cocktail, King crab legs, sushi first. And of course, make sure you drink as much top shelf alcohol as you possibly can.
PRO TIP: Before your first drink kicks, figure out how many shrimp you need to eat to make at least half your hourly rate.
There is a general rule in business that you do not “gift up.” This may be true if you are staff. But as a freelancer, keep it focused and only give gifts to the lucky people who have the power to ask you back. The one tricky thing about gifting up is not appearing like you’re trying to buy somebody. So keep the gifts inexpensive and as thoughtful a possible.
PRO TIP: Booze counts as thoughtful gift.
I sincerely hope (take it for what it’s worth) that my gift of the ways of the HLF will help you make the most out of the holiday season and put more freelance leads in your inbox for the New Year.