The Office Christmas Party – Normal rules apply… right?


The Office Christmas Party

We’ve all been to one and we may have even been the highlight of one, but the annual work Christmas party can either end up being a great event or you could end up becoming internally famous for the wrong reason(s)!

Yeah, normal company rules are supposed to apply… well, they get relaxed a bit… but I thought I would write you a handy guide to staying stealth at the Office Christmas party…. maintaining your integrity, whilst having a good time.

1. Alcohol…

Yes, it may be a free bar… but that doesn’t mean it’s a challenge. Alcohol lowers your inhibition and it blocks out that inner voice that helps you decide not to do silly things. Remember, the person you are talking to may not be as drunk as you, you may not be as funny as you think you are and removing items of clothes is never a good idea. It’s also easier to make comments about other work colleagues that you may not have said if you were sober! Always drink in moderation and always make sure you consume less than everyone else. If you are driving, then NO… you shouldn’t be drinking at all.
SHOTS are never a good idea! If you have a lemon in your mouth, it’s normally game over. Be warned of the post shot memory loss phenomenon – this is that period of time, post shot, where you get a momentary lapse in memory.. silly and stupid things can happen in this window (and it will probably be caught on camera). So BEWARE!

2. Get involved …

this is a time where you, your boss and your boss’s boss are on even ground. The booze is flowing and everyone is feeling more relaxed. By participating and getting to know co-workers, this helps to raise your profile. People like sociable people and networkers. This is a good chance to connect with co-workers on a social level, which in turn can help you build effective working relationships when you return to work. Unless you have your tongue down someone’s throat or have your head down a toilet (this will ruin the above!).

But, when is it acceptable to leave the party? You don’t want to leave too early, which can sometimes show that you only went because you felt you needed to show your face. People (usually your boss) notice this lack of engagement. Also, do you stay till the end, maybe, if your boss or your boss’s boss is still going, it can often go in your favour to go with them.

I’m now in my thirties, so I normally go home 3/4 of the way in. Let the young people carry on, I was there once, but i’ve had my time, I now need to set an example and hangovers last longer!

3. Don’t be ‘that’ person…

Don’t be ‘that’ person who gets totally off their face at every work event. You know the ones, they’re living their very own Bacardi Mojito advert and it’s the last night of their life types. You may also be that person who always gets asked to leave by HR. You may be funny and may think it’s funny, but trust me, it’s not going to get you very high up the career ladder… it’s also probably best you leave the company and start again a fresh somewhere else.

4. Dress to impress …

Make sure you are totally sure on the dress code… showing too much flesh, no matter how hard you worked it at the gym this year isn’t such a good look. You want to be known for your capability, not your cleavage (male or female cleavage I mean!). Oh and underwear is a must… the amount of times I’ve seen people topple over on the dance floor, short dress.. and … well you can guess the rest.

5. Xmas party romance…

there are always those who find love at the Xmas party – either publicly or privately, albeit temporarily in most instances. Let’s just say I’ve never had to buy my hat yet! Shenanigans with your work colleagues will not be private, will likely be talked about until the next Christmas party and can have a massive impact on your future working relations. If you are going to do it…. then at least wait till you get to your hotel room and not on the dance floor! Oh and make sure they are not on your team or a team you have to work with on a regular basis… but Shhhhhh.

6. The dancing …

Alcohol has the effect of making people think they are sexier and that they could probably win Britain’s Got Talent if they entered. No one wants to see your version of Christina Aguilera’s ‘Dirty’ . If you are bending down, bending forward, bending backwards, carrying someone or are being carried yourself… you need to get off the dance floor (NOW) and go grab some water. If you are ‘Twerking’…. it’s too late for you my friend… too late.. the damage has already been done. The only thing you can do now is ‘own it’! Be wrong… be strong!

7. The next day…

If you have a hangover… please please please don’t call in sick with ‘food poisoning the next day’. Seriously, it fools no-one. Be honest! It goes a long way.

8. Remember…

That normal company conduct applies to these events… If you can make a graceful exit (without being helped), not be the first one to leave the party and not dread going into the office the next day … you’ve probably won this game!

Happy office Christmas party! *

* this is of course not my professional opinion and should not be taken as a definitive guide to office party etiquette. It’s a bit of fun…. relax!

Andy Selway is the Founder of ‘Your HR Consultancy’ which provides HR & people solutions to start-ups and SMEs. Andy also runs Corporate and Cocktails, which is fast becoming one of London’s biggest growing HR communities with over 1,700 HR members.