Love it or loathe it, the annual Christmas party is a long-held tradition which is showing no signs of abating.
So what’s the best way to survive it and do you know the unspoken office Christmas party rules?
1. Remember the same rules apply
“The same rules apply at the office party as they do in the work environment,” says Claire Gray, co-founder of boutique recruitment firm Bain and Gray. “See the night as a relationship-building opportunity to get to know colleagues better, which in turn will serve you will in the work place.”
2. Network like a pro
Be warm, smiley and well-presented and make it all about them, says Gray. “Don’t talk about yourself. Let your colleagues talk about themselves instead and don’t give away information you will later regret,” she notes. Successful networkers are chameleons, says Gray. “Depending on who you are talking to you, read their mood and manners quickly using your intuition and emotional intelligence and adjust your conversation to suit.”
3. Don’t talk shop
David Southall, employment law consultant for the ELAS Group, says: “Now is not the time to press for that promotion you’ve been after or corner the HR team with all your complaints. If you have a genuine grievance with someone then you should deal with it in the proper manner, not after a bit of Dutch courage.”
4. Don’t gossip or give out TMI
Mixing office chitchat with booze is never a good idea, says Southall. “Don’t start telling everyone your issues. You could easily end up crying on the shoulder of the wrong person or declaring your undying love for your office crush,” he says. “This isn’t Love Actually and you will have to face them again the morning after.”
5. Have fun but not too much fun
“Over the years we have heard of some outrageous behaviour including employees being sick on the boss’s lap and stripping off on the dance floor,” says Southall. “Take the opportunity to mingle and talk to people in other departments who you don’t see on a daily basis but remember that the Christmas party is an extension of the workplace. Know your limits and, most importantly, know when to go home.”
6. Don’t flirt with your boss
Chris Meredith, CEO of LondonOffices.com says: “Remember to always keep it professional. Never say anything that could be misread as being flirtatious. The same goes for touching as well. The safest option is always the handshake rather than a cheek kiss or hug.”
7. Eat before you go go
Hitting the cocktail bar before you’ve eaten could be potentially disastrous so make sure you have something decent to eat beforehand, Meredith advises. “If you know the party is going to consist of a lot of cocktails but only a few measly canapes, then make sure you eat before you go. Have something starchy like pasta or pizza to soak up the alcohol.”
8. Thank the host
“If it was your boss who hosted the evening, the polite thing to do would be to send over a thank you gesture. Or if you know for a fine fact it was their assistant that did most of the work, it wouldn’t hurt to thank him/her either,” says Meredith.
9. Book your taxi or arrange for a lift home in advance
Make sure you arrange a lift or book your taxi home beforehand so you don’t get stranded, especially if you work outside of London. “Making prior arrangements can prevent you from taking a chance or even thinking about driving, even if you think you’re under the legal limit,” Southall says.
10. Don’t call in sick the next day
No matter how rough you’re feeling, don’t call in sick the next day. Remember your colleagues will probably be feeling just as hungover as you and pulling a sickie is really not acceptable. “If the day after the party is a workday and you really want to ‘enjoy’ yourself then why not book annual leave in advance to let you recover in comfort and possibly get some Christmas shopping in as well,” says Southall.
Georgina Fuller is an award winning freelance journalist and editor.