It’s time to party!

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THE office Christmas party is as much a part of the festivities as turkey and mince pies.

The Echo one, however, is never as eventful as I hope it will be. No one ever photocopies body parts or smooches under the mistletoe.

Instead, it’s a more civilised affair of a meal before hitting a boozer.

This year we enjoyed some bait at Asiana. At £22 a head, it was cracking value for a four-course banquet.

Being an Asian restaurant, it wasn’t particularly festive – there wasn’t a Brussel sprout in sight – but it tasted top-notch anyway.

Sensing my displeasure at having non-festive fare – i.e I’d been moaning about it for months – business reporter Kevin Clark fixed it for me to be served with a platter of pigs in blankets. Christmas ain’t Christmas unless you eat your body weight in pigs in blankets, in my opinion.

It was a befitting venue for an Echo shindig too as the paper was based on this site back in the day. Some of the table could remember when Echo HQ was based there, back in the 70s.

Stomach’s lined, we headed to Fitzgerald’s on Green Terrace. All Echo nights out lead to Fitzgerald’s.

I guess it’s because it’s a kind of middle ground watering hole: it’s got real ale for the older generation of reporters and some okay music for the younger hacks.

Many pints later, and with colleagues dropping like flies, we headed to a more lively venue – 7even, on Derwent Street.

There, we bumped into the lads from The Generals who were fresh from their debut single launch. If you haven’t heard these Sunderland musicians yet, make sure you catch them soon.

The four-piece have been plying their trade on the local circuit for the past year – you may remember them from the Split Festival – and are definitely ones to watch in 2012.

The rest of the night passed in a blur of Christmas hats, shots and drunk photos. Fortunately, the Echo vending machine has been heavily stocked with Nurofen this week to help us cope with our collective Christmas hangovers.