Your survival guide to the office Christmas party

Michael Doolin, the Group Managing Director of Clover HR and discusses the three most important things to do when celebrating with colleagues.

With Shakin’ Stevens back on our radios for the first time in 12 months, and a shipment of mince pies large enough to feed a small army having arrived at your local supermarket, it’s certainly beginning to look a lot like Christmas wherever you go.

The festive period’s arrival portends many things – the absolute hammering your credit card will soon be subjected to for one, not to mention familial squabbles at the dinner table that even Jerry Springer would struggle to resolve. Besides this and much else, it also signifies that the office Christmas party is just around the corner.

Eagerly awaited and dreaded in equal measure, this annual event serves as a chance to let your hair down with colleagues and reflect on what you’ve collectively achieved over the course of the year. However, the thought of spending an evening of music, dancing and small talk with your co-workers may strike terror into your heart – particularly if your festive energy is more akin to that of the Grinch than Buddy the elf. In reality though, provided you take note of the “do’s and don’ts”, the Christmas party can actually be a lot of fun.

With that in mind, Michael Doolin, the Group Managing Director of Clover HR discusses the three most important things to do when celebrating with colleagues. to help even the biggest workplace Scrooge survive the office Christmas party, and get swept away in the spirit of the season.

Enjoy responsibly

We’ve all heard the alcohol-related horror stories surrounding the office Christmas party. Those unfortunate individuals who’ve gone a little too heavy on the complimentary drinks and ended up making a drunken pass at a colleague, or even gone so far as to challenge their manager to a fistfight (did somebody ask Santa for a P45?).

While such tales may have gone down in legend among office workers up and down the country, they’re hardly shining examples of how to conduct yourself at the Christmas party. I don’t want to sound like a party pooper – on the contrary, those who enjoy a drink should feel free to do so – but you need to remember where you are. While people are generally more relaxed at the Christmas party than they are in the office, bear in mind that you’re not on a night out with the lads, or a prosecco and cocktail-fuelled binge with the girls. Your bosses are present, and probably keeping a close eye on you – even if they don’t appear to be.

So, by all means, raise a glass in celebration, but just make sure not to have as many as you might on a typical Saturday night. Eat plenty beforehand, avoid mixing your drinks, take your time, and have a glass of water if you feel like you’re reaching your limit. Stick to these principles, and you should manage to get through the night without doing or saying anything you might live to regret!

Don’t sit it out

If you’re the kind who’d happily strike the entire festive period off your calendar, you might be considering sacking off the office Christmas party altogether. You certainly wouldn’t be alone if this is the case, with a survey commissioned by Reward Gateway revealing that a massive 54% of employees dread the occasion.

While you may be tempted to pull a sickie or claim that you’ve already got a prior engagement to attend – we both know you’d just spend the evening curled up on the sofa watching Love Actually and eating all your advent calendar chocolate early – you should really make an effort to join in. Attendance may be optional, but showing your willingness to spend time with colleagues outside the confines of the office can help to demonstrate that you’re a team player; someone who doesn’t work purely to pick up a paycheque. On top of this, it can be a great opportunity to get to know your co-workers better, helping to bring you closer together as team.

By conquering your fears and throwing yourself into the festivities, who knows, you just might end up actually having a good time!

Avoid controversial talking points

After a year jam packed with more deadlines and boring team meetings than you care to remember, it’s totally understandable that you won’t want to spend your evening talking to colleagues about work, and all the stuff you need to pick back up when you return in the New Year.

In this sense, steering clear of work-related conversations is a shrewd move, but that’s not to suggest that this isn’t the only topic that should be left alone. Offices tend to bring together people with a broad range of ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc., so it’s likely that co-workers will have different ways of viewing the world due to their diverging experiences. As such, some areas of debate – such as politics and religion – are likely to be controversial with colleagues, especially if their opinion is diametrically opposed to your own.

You might find some certain subjects particularly interesting, but if you know they’re likely to stir up some controversy, you should try to keep your opinions yourself and stick to the tried and test topics – what you’ve been watching on Netflix, your plans for Christmas, etc. They might not be quite as riveting, but they’re much less likely to spark yet another argument over the festive period.

Don’t forget to have fun

Hopefully, you’re now feeling a bit more prepared to face your office Christmas party. With various do’s and don’ts, it can be easy to get bogged down in etiquette, but you shouldn’t obsess over getting things right to the point where you actually forget to enjoy yourself, which is the most important thing of all. After all, you and your colleagues have worked hard throughout the year, and have earned the right to kick back a little and have some fun.

So, be sure to have a great time at your office Christmas party, and make it a night to remember – but for all the right reasons!