Office Xmas Party Etiquette

Top 10 dos and don’ts

Ah, the office Christmas party. A zillion and one ways to make a total plonker of yourself.

Because here’s the thing about office parties:

They can feel like a delicate tiptoe through a complex web of etiquette rules. It’s easy to get it wrong and, let’s face it, someone always does — so spectacularly wrong that their career never quite recovers from the embarrassment.

You don’t want to be that person.

So here, ladies and gentlemen, are your top 10 dos and don’ts of office Christmas party etiquette.

1. Do: Turn up

If you’re a natural party animal, this one’s a no-brainer. Feel free to scroll down.

We’ve included it for those of you who are dreading the very thought. Right now, you may be compiling your List of Excuses for Missing the Party.

You really should show up. Here are 3 reasons why:

  • It’s a once-a-year chance to see a different, more relaxed side to people and make new friends
  • Your colleagues will appreciate that you’ve made the effort.
  • If you don’t turn up, they’ll notice.

Why spend the next few months living down a reputation as the office Grinch? Do go along, even if it’s just for a couple of hours.

2. Don’t: …wear that

It’s always tricky to get the dress code right, especially for women. It’s horribly easy to wreck a hard-won professional reputation with just one misjudgement on a single evening.

Is that fair? No, of course not, but we won’t go on about it.

There may be a dress code on the invitation, in which case, follow it to the letter.

If in doubt, keep it festive, professional and, above all, comfortable. You don’t want to worry about anything riding up or slipping down.

3. Do: Keep off your phone

Try to resist the magnetic pull of your mobile phone.

This isn’t the time to check work emails. And while social media is great in many ways, it’s not sociable. Enjoy the company of the people in front of you, and live the moment as it happens,

Talking of social media, do be careful about sharing photos or videos. Your colleagues won’t thank you (or trust you ever again) if they discover that their dodgy dance moves have gone viral on Instagram.

4. Do: Talk to everyone

Understandably, it’s tempting to stick with people you know. It’s easier that way, less awkward — particularly if you’re new to the company.

However, it’s worth making the effort to speak to people you don’t yet know. Everyone is pretty relaxed, they’re not busy or distracted by work so it’s the perfect moment to introduce yourself.

5. Don’t: Talk about work

It’s a party. No one wants to get stuck in a conversation about KPIs, problems with the new photocopier, or who’s going to replace Pamela in HR.

If you’re short of conversational inspiration, try asking your colleagues a question you’ve never asked them before. Most people have hidden depths, and the answers may surprise you.

6. Do: Arrange the journey home in advance

We don’t want to sound like your mum or anything, but make sure you know how you’re getting home

Finding a taxi can be a nightmare during the Christmas party season. Booking one in advance saves you a lot of hassle.

7. Don’t: Get over-excited

Usually, there are gallons of alcoholic drinks at an office Christmas party. After all, it’s a reward for a whole year of hard work, and you’ve earned it.

OK, there’s no easy way to say this, so we’ll just come right out with it.

Don’t get embarrassingly drunk. You don’t want to be that person careering round the dance floor like a toddler at a wedding.

Eat lots beforehand, drink your own body weight in water and whatever happens, say no to the tequila shots. Otherwise, you’re guaranteed to become the best office gossip since Kevin from IT tried to snog the Marketing Director.

Talking of which…

8. Don’t: Get off with anyone

Now, we all know what it’s like. You’ve fancied someone for months. Surely the office party is the perfect opportunity to make your move.

We can assure you that it isn’t.

Regardless of whether your crush is reciprocated, office party etiquette dictates that snogging on the dance floor is unprofessional (sorry). Also, it’s embarrassing. You’ll never live it down.

9. Do: Say ‘thank you’

Take it from us, putting an office Christmas party together isn’t an easy task. Someone has worked hard to make sure you have a good time.

Do remember to thank the person who organised the complicated party logistics.

It’s also worth thanking whoever paid for it, especially if that person is your boss.

10. Do: Turn up for work the next day

Yes, you may have been the life and soul of the party… and negotiated the etiquette maze with panache.

And yes, you’ve probably got a hangover. Can you ring in sick with the flu?

Nope. You won’t get away with it. The chances are, your boss will have noticed that a few hours ago, you were happily wailing along to Mariah Carey.

Drink coffee, eat a large breakfast and head off to work. There will be plenty of people in the same boat. You can sympathise with each other and compare hangovers.

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