The do’s and don’ts of the office Christmas party

Now that the obligatory, heartstring-tugging John Lewis advert has aired, and your usually dismal and tired local high street has swathed itself in tinsel and garlands, it is time to accept the inevitable – Christmas is officially on its way.

Now that the obligatory, heartstring-tugging John Lewis advert has aired, and your usually dismal and tired local high street has swathed itself in tinsel and garlands, it is time to accept the inevitable – Christmas is officially on its way.

Besides this meaning that your credit card is about to take the mother of all beatings, and you’ll soon be forced to spend time around the dining table with your in-laws, it also means that the dreaded office party is just around the bend.

While spending an evening of music, dancing, drinking and small talk with your colleagues may sound like your idea of hell – especially if you’re the resident office Scrooge – it can actually be a lot of fun, not to mention a great opportunity to celebrate everything that you and your colleagues have achieved throughout the year.

Alexander Dick, CEO of Alexander Lyons Solutions, explains that with any occasion there are some important “do’s and don’ts” to remember when the office party rolls around and the best of them are outlined below, in case you need to brush up on your social etiquette prior to the main event and, in doing so, avoid having a nightmare before Christmas!

DON’T get too drunk

It’s a tale as old as time – you go along to the office Christmas party, order a few too many drinks from the free bar, and end up making a complete fool out of yourself in front of your boss and the rest of your co-workers.

While it may be tempting to let your hair down in this way – and it is absolutely an opportunity to have fun – you need to remember that you aren’t on a night out with old friends from school; you’re among the people who you share an office with for up to 40 hours a week. After all, you don’t want to hear people gossiping about you as you stumble to your desk the next morning, nursing the hangover from Hell.

To avoid such an eventuality, make sure you eat plenty before the party, don’t mix your drinks, pace yourself, and have a glass of water if you feel like you’re reaching your limit. Follow these steps, and you should manage to get through the night without getting off with that person from Accounts who you’ve always had a thing for, or having a feisty, alcohol-induced argument with your team leader.

DO make sure you attend

While this may sound blatantly obvious, it is important to ensure that you are actually going to be there on the night.

The reason I make this point is because 27% of us dread attending the office Christmas party, according to CV Library, with the figure rising to nearly a third – 31.4% – among those aged 45 to 54.

If you count yourself in this number, you should make every effort to conquer your fears and join in the celebration, even if – as is usually the case – attendance is optional. This is because the event can be a great way to get to know your colleagues better outside of an office setting, and to demonstrate that you are a team player who doesn’t just work to pick up a paycheque.

If you go with the flow and throw yourself into the spirit of the evening, you just might actually enjoy yourself too!

DON’T start controversial debates

With the Christmas break almost upon you, it stands to reason that neither you nor your colleagues are going to want to talk extensively about work, or what tasks need to be ticked off once you get back in the New Year.

While avoiding work-related conversations is, of course, a smart move at the Christmas party, there are other topics of discussion that are best left alone as well. This is because offices are often microcosms for wider society and the myriad views that people have. With many businesses employing people with a range of ages, ethnicities, sexual orientations, etc., you need to be mindful that some areas of debate – such as politics and religion – are likely to be controversial with colleagues, especially if their opinion on the matter differs greatly from yours.

Even if you feel particularly strongly about a certain subject but know that it could cause controversy that might spoil the evening, try to keep your opinions to yourself and steer the conversation towards topics that are safer – e.g., what you’ve been watching on Netflix, or what your plans for Christmas are – rather than those that are only going to cause division and argument.

DO take note of the dress code

While showing up at the office Christmas party is one thing, making sure that you’re dressed appropriately is another altogether.

If your boss has booked a table at a swanky, festive banquet, for example, it’s unlikely that a tie dye t-shirt, ripped jeans, and a pair of Converse sneakers are going to cut it.

To avoid being that one person who doesn’t get let in because they’re criminally underdressed, make sure that you check what the dress code is with your manager or, at the very least, find out what your colleagues will be wearing so that you can clothe yourself accordingly.

Likewise, if you’re all just going out for bowling and some casual drinks, you don’t want to be the wally who turns up in a three-piece suit, or a billowing ballgown. While it may not be your first thought, getting a handle on the dress code can be key to your comfort and enjoyment – and avoidance of embarrassment – on the night.

DON’T leave too early

It may have taken a lot of willpower to ensure that you’re actually in attendance on the night, but if you’re the kind of person who dreads the Christmas party, try to resist the temptation to scurry off early.

While you may not consider it to be a big deal, you have to remember that a lot of time and effort may have gone into planning the event for your enjoyment, so rushing off early to catch the end of Strictly may come across as rude and unsociable.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you need to be the last person standing – to the point that you need to be dragged out of the venue kicking and screaming – but you should aim to spend a reasonable amount of time at the event. Enjoy the food and drink, take time to speak with colleagues, and the evening is bound to fly by – so much so that I doubt you’ll be sat there checking your watch the entire time.

DO enjoy yourself

Etiquette at the office Christmas party is a thing, and it matters. While there are definite do’s and definite do not’s for this festive-themed event, you shouldn’t get so bogged down by them that you forget to actually enjoy yourself.

You and your colleagues have worked hard all throughout the year and, as such, have earned the right to have some fun, and to celebrate all that you have accomplished as a team. Ahead of the New Year, it is important to reflect on all of this, and to take time to enjoy the moment, particularly because 9-5 work can often be fast paced, and there is not always a prime opportunity to stop and take stock of your achievements.

So, go along to your office Christmas party, have a great time with your colleagues, and make this year’s event one to remember – just make sure it’s for all the right reasons!