Drunk person asleep at the work Christmas party

Some festive Dos and Don’ts to help you master the Christmas party

Joe Wedgwood People focussed

As the festive season snowballs into full swing, the work Christmas party is getting nearer and nearer. You’ve been working hard for the whole year and now it’s time to slip into your most flattering elf outfit and have some festive fun!

For many of us this is an occasion we Ho-heartedly welcome, and for others, it’s a brave-face-occasion. Whether you fall into the former or latter category, you should still read our Christmas check-list to ensure you don’t do anything you might regret.

You wouldn’t want to wind up with a bag of coal under your tree now, would you?

First the boring stuff – What to do

Attend: You may have the same disdain for the Christmas party as a pre-enlightened Ebeneezer Scrooge, but you should still consider it as obligatory. You’ve endured a year of emails, meetings and early starts, and now it’s time to have a bit of fun. It’s a great opportunity to really get to know your colleagues – so forget that you’re a Grinch for one night and have a few drinks on the company credit card!

Dress appropriately: The Christmas party isn’t the place to wear your lime green Mankini or your gold Kylie hot pants. If you aren’t sure what to wear, then ask your colleagues. If you’re still between two minds, then err on the side of caution.

Work the room and socialise: Think of all those nameless faces you see in the halls every day… well, this is your opportunity to really get to know them. So make an effort to chat with everyone; yes that includes Sarah from marketing who laughs nervously after every sentence and Mark from sales who spits when he talks…

Unless you work for a small company, most of us will rarely get the chance to speak to the VIPs – so take a deep breath, be brave and go for it. Most people will avoid them, which presents a great opportunity for you to make yourself known. You could start by thanking them for the party and telling a few (PC) jokes. Avoid talking about work and most importantly your salary or Christmas bonus!

Plan your journey home in advance: Getting home can often be a nuisance, especially if your party is somewhere you’ve never been – add alcohol to the mix and it’s a logistical nightmare! Be sure to check train/bus times well in advance and see if there’s someone you can buddy up with to travel home together. You could even try and blag a ride home from someone who lives nearby. Whatever you decide is up to you, but don’t leave it until the last minute.

Now for the fun stuff – What not to do:

Be the drunkest person in the room: It is important to remember that what happens at the office party does not stay at the office party! You’ll be held accountable for any trouble you may cause. If self-control isn’t your thing, then make sure you drink a lot of water and consider enlisting someone to keep a watchful eye on your endeavours.

Here are some cautionary tales to inspire you to drink responsibly: 

  • A friend was at the work Christmas party and just happened to be walking past two colleagues who appeared to be deep in conversation. The girl was clearly doing all the talking and he overheard her drunkenly slur “I mean, he’s just a [SWEAR WORD]. He tries to manage us all, but he just isn’t cut out for the job. Don’t tell Adam I said that though!” …she was talking to Adam, who just happens to be the new company Director.
  • This next one is HR’s worst nightmare. It involves a drunk employee, a flaming Sambuca shot, a man’s nipple, a fire extinguisher and a double dare! It ended with embarrassment, shame and severe nipple-burn. You can fill in the blanks…

Make a fool of yourself on the dance floor: Some people forget the office Christmas party is still a work event and completely let loose on the dance floor – this is a risky little game! By all means have some fun, but no twerking and please don’t do the “Brent dance.”

Make sexual advances on a colleague: You may believe that Christmas is “the most wonderful time of the year” – but this will come crashing down if you are presented with a P45 and a restraining order! This could be your reality if you can’t control your libido at the work party.

Your office crush may be standing under the mistletoe and enticing you to make your move, but you have to ask yourself a few questions:

  • “Will it be awkward on Monday?”
  • “Will my colleagues gossip?”
  • “Will I regret it?”
  • “Will my boss hear about it?”

The answer across the board is unequivocally yes!

Get extra-curricular with the photocopying machine: This is the ultimate work party cliché, but that doesn’t mean that it never happens! It may seem like a great idea at the time to make copies of your bottom and genitalia, and admittedly it is quite funny. However, it won’t be nearly as funny if you get caught! Why risk it?

Skip work the next day: Unless you’re ridiculously lucky and you had your party on a Friday, then the next working day still counts. So regardless of how bad you feel, how much you want to avoid everyone or the fact you woke up in a dumpster on a ferry – you must get to work on time. It is “damage control day” after all and a hangover isn’t a viable excuse if the whole office was at the same party as you.

Now you’re armed with all the festive dos and don’ts you could ever need, it’s up to you to put them into practice. Sadly, you’ll probably forget all of them in a haze of merriment at the Christmas party and be forced to learn the hard way…

Happy holidays!


Joe Wedgwood

Marketing Executive at The Happiness Index – Joe is a published journalist and blogger with a passion for employee engagement and HR. He has previous experience working as a language teacher, journalist, counsellor and content manager for a recruitment agency.

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