Christmas office party – do’s and definitely don’ts

Here’s to still having a job tomorrow!

Maybe promotion or at least keep your job. And if you really don’t care either way, how to go out with a bang.

A much-manipulated pandemic benefit is not having to go to events that will surely suck. Excusing yourself from certain get-togethers on the grounds that it’s unsafe has been a real go-to over the past two years.

However those days are starting to wane. People are vaccinated, businesses are opening and it’s time to meet others face to face, mask to mask.

Many organizations are now eyeing the traditional end of year knees-up as a long overdue chance to boost morale and thank the troops. And get smashed.

If there’s no way out and it seems you simply must attend the dreaded/anticipated Christmas party, here are some key points to consider.

Tipsy okay, comatose not so much

Alcohol can be the great leveler. It brings people together, breaks down inhibitions and can be an excellent conversation inducer. “You collect stuffed Snoopy toys? Wow – tell me more!”

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of well-being after the third beer buzz.

If only we could all leave it at the third or fourth beer/wine. For many though, this is just warming up. While this is certainly the correct mentality for a pub crawl or hen’s night, it can prove awkward at the office do.

Warning signs range from starting to slur or spilling drinks to letting go with the f-bombs, highly inappropriate anecdotes and passing out while urinating.

This is especially dangerous for those who feel they need to make an impression. It can go oh so quickly from being the unexpected life of the party to cleaning out the desk on Monday.

Of course it all depends on the state of those around you. If other staff – especially those in senior positions – are blotto then you can probably have a few more. If no-one can remember, or pretends not to remember then you might be in the clear.

Even CEOs have to let off steam

No whining and dining

No job is perfect and some are less perfect than others. Venting months or years of pent-up rage is acceptable to your therapist but not hapless co-workers.

Believe it or not, Christmas really is the time to be merry, or at least act merry. It’s the end of the year and most people just want a laugh or two. They certainly don’t want to listen to someone ranting about unfairness or even worse – naming names.

“She’s way…hic…underqualified and beshides…hic…her breath shtinks…”

It not only brings down the mood but can reflect very badly on your character. People understandably listen to someone bitching about a colleague and think, What does he say about me when I’m not around?

Grin and bear it, then go home to a punching bag, still employed.

Of course, if you couldn’t care less whether you keep your job or not then anything goes. Armed with the secrets of those co-workers you find less than endearing makes you a very dangerous individual. He gambles too much to get married and besides, I hear he’s impotent…

Don’t talk shop

Office parties can be tricky. Even the powers that be putting them on can’t be bothered at times but feel obliged to. This can make for awkward exchanges – especially before good ole booze comes into play.

The main rule is try not to talk about work. You’re at a party, for God’s sake. Incredibly, some people still have to be told this.

You won’t impress anyone by reflecting on final quarter sales, least of all the CEO. The CEO is probably the last person who wants to talk about anything work-related. If you can’t think of anything to say then ask questions. Keep nodding until you find some common ground or someone saves you.

If you talk shop people will either think you’re sucking up or have no life whatsoever.

Neither are ideal.

Read the room

Find out what kind of party it’ll be and dress appropriately. If it’s a costume party then fine, knock yourself out. If the invitation doesn’t stipulate what kind of dress is best then smart casual is always safe.

Wearing a suit when everyone’s in t-shirts isn’t great but not the end of the world. Turning up in spandex shorts with lips on the buttocks is pretty much the end of the world.

The thought will be – if you can’t even get this right then what else will you must likely stuff up?

Mingle, mingle

Talking to people that you barely know can be intimidating but well worth the effort. The office party is the place to try and it’s a win-win.

There are bound to be some people at the party who you’ve never spoken to. Or not at any great length. This is the perfect chance, especially with a glass or two under your belt.

It looks good to be seen attempting to get out of your comfort zone. People who count will notice and nod approvingly. You’re making the effort. You’re going places, you are.

Plus, who knows – you might legitimately hit it off with someone. The creepy-looking guy in accounts who you swore lived with his parents and collected weapons turns out to be a funster! The supposed stuck-up marketing manager volunteers at care homes and loves filthy jokes. Who knew!

Questions are your best friend to peel away the layers. Questions also help to feign interest. You won’t hit it off with everybody, but no matter.

You tried and you were seen to be trying. What a go-getter.

Sticking to these rules or completely ignoring them will most likely lead to vastly different employment prospects. That is – you’ll still have a job or you’ll be looking for a new one.

Work parties certainly aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But if you play it right, you can get through it and sometimes even enjoy yourself.

When it’s over you can go home and undress, get as drunk as you like and list everyone’s shortcomings.

In private.

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