The office Christmas party is an important event in the social calendar of most companies. It’s a chance to celebrate the achievements of the last 12 months, improve morale and get to know members of staff in a more relaxed setting. ‘Tis the season to be jolly but Christmas parties are renowned for the trouble they can cause. Here are a few tips to help make sure you have a happy new year when the party’s over.
The venue will determine the dress code so wear something suitable. Stay away from overly wacky costumes or anything that’s too revealing – you don’t want to undermine your professional status.
DO check what your colleagues will be wearing so that you’re not drawing attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons.
DON’T make a joke of wearing mistletoe or coming in fancy dress. What seems funny to you might be seen as distasteful or downright offensive to someone else.
Be careful what you eat and how you eat it. Your conversation and social skills might be great but this won’t matter if you’ve got pastry stuck to your chin or you spray people with flecks of vol-au-vent every time you speak.
DO keep your right hand free so you can shake hands with people. It’s also a good idea to hold your drink in your left hand so that your handshake isn’t cold and wet.
DON’T arrive hungry. Eat something beforehand so that you don’t attack the catering with too much gusto. It’s never a good idea to drink on an empty stomach either…
Alcohol and work is a dangerous mix – especially if there are free drinks on offer. Whilst it’s important to relax and enjoy yourself, always remember that this is still a work environment and you’re accountable for your actions.
DO drink in moderation and don’t lose control. If you feel yourself going too far, have some water or leave before you do anything embarrassing.
DON’T make potentially career-altering decisions under the influence of alcohol. In the morning, you might not remember what happened but your colleagues certainly will.
This is probably the best opportunity you’ll have all year to meet and make an impression on the people that you don’t see on a day-to-day basis. So move out of your comfort zone and chat to people outside your normal circle of colleagues.
DO keep the conversation light. Talk about family and backgrounds rather than intensely personal or controversial topics.
DON’T talk too much about work. This is a social occasion and most people like to leave the stresses of their job at their desks.
Make sure you mingle, interact, get involved and introduce yourself to as many people as you can. If you see any of your colleagues behaving inappropriately, have a quiet word with them before things get out of hand.
DO remember to say thank you to whoever organised the event.
DON’T see this as an opportunity to air your grievances or prowl around the room with a sprig of mistletoe in your hand.
You need some sort of an exit strategy. It’s important not to outstay your welcome but at the same time, leaving directly after the meal or when the free drinks run out might make it seem as though you don’t care about the people you work with.
DO arrange your transport home in advance so that you don’t have to worry about it on the night.
DON’T post pictures on social media without checking to see if people mind. One of your colleagues might have had a party they’d rather forget so don’t embarrass them by supplying a permanent reminder.
Getting to know your team on a more personal level is a wonderful way to cement existing relationships and establish new ones. Just be mindful of the pitfalls – and remember to have fun!