The Dos and Don’ts Of The Office Christmas Party
As party season approaches and Hollywood dons its reindeer antlers, one film tops the list of this year’s festive flicks. Set in an office planning a Christmas party, the inventively-named ‘Office Christmas Party’ catalogues the increasing trials and tribulations of a company shindig.
For those of us stuck in an office until December 23rd, the trailer may well conjure images of past trauma. Dancing on desks? Kissing colleagues? Flashing everyone in HR? Surveys show that a startling number of people embarrass themselves in the December work bash – and live with the humiliation for years to come.
Here are the dos and don’ts that will get you through the next two months.
According to a survey by Love Energy Savings, over a quarter of us think that the best thing about parties is the opportunity to socialise with co-workers. And making the effort is a good thing; having friends at work can mean a spike in productivity, contentment and overall job satisfaction.
If you don’t turn up at the office party, you look like you’re not a team player and don’t think your colleagues are worth your time. Nobody likes being shunned socially, least of all those you work with every day. So make the effort and stick around for at least an hour. Who knows? You might even enjoy it.
DO dress appropriately
You showed your boss what at the Christmas party? Remember: the office fling is still a work event. If you wouldn’t wear it in front of your mother, don’t wear it here.
It’s girls who are in the most danger here; low necklines, leotards and cat-suits have no place in your office’s hallowed halls. Dress for comfort, in clothes that are socially acceptable by all standards. You are a classy, professional woman and, though that doesn’t mean boring, it does mean dressing like your boss is watching. Which she/he is.
DO go into work the next day
We don’t care how bad your hangover is. Everyone knows why you’re not in and, when they’ve made the effort to turn up themselves, they’re a perfect position to judge you for not doing so – your boss included.
DO deal with any fallout promptly – but keep things in perspective
If you’ve done something awful at an office party, you must apologise. Ostrich syndrome won’t cut it here; if you told Ruth in accounts that she’s weak for taking maternity leave, you’re in deep water. Approach the relevant individual – perhaps offering a gift – accept responsibility for your actions, then move on.
If your gaffe was genuinely awful and might affect your position at the company, pen a letter and deliver it in person to your boss. Offer concrete actions and materials to compensate for your misdeed. This shows that you care, know what you did wrong and are willing to work hard to make up the distance.
On the other hand, remember to keep things in perspective. Nobody pays as much attention to your missteps as you do; if your main offence was a slightly sharp remark or a tumble on the dance floor, you’re probably okay.
Context is king: if your company has a relaxed culture and everyone else was drunk too, you will enjoy more leeway than those at a fancy Magic Circle mixer.
DON’T gossip – or give anyone else a reason to!
Alcohol lowers our inhibitions across the board and, while it might make for a great midnight dance routine, it certainly does you no favours in watching your tongue.
Telling Mark from marketing that Annie from accounts snogged your boss in the stationery cupboard may seem like important information at the time. However, at best it’ll earn you a reputation as a gossip – at worst, it’ll get back to your boss, and you can say goodbye to that extra holiday.
Save your sordid tales for the weekend – or at least a time when you’re not stuck in a small room with everyone involved.
DON’T drink too much
According to CIPD, more than 40% of workers have got drunk at a Christmas party. Interestingly, men are more likely to over-indulge than women, clocking in at 45% compared to 35%. While ‘getting lashed’ might seem tempting, remember that inebriation renders you more socially vulnerable and likely to commit gaffes.
Furthermore, drunken behaviour could compromise your standing in the company. An Opinion Matters poll for Drinkaware shows that one in four of office workers regret actions from past office parties. The main offender is kissing – or attempting to kiss – a colleague, with criticisms and drunken aggression coming in behind. Of those polled, many received warnings for their behaviour from superiors.
Alcoholic events are an HR nightmare. As Robin Kallor of Ford & Harrison LLP points out: “No good comes from a lot of alcohol at work-sponsored events. It sounds fun, but we all have to go to work the next day, and what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. Ever.”
So watch your step; that extra shot may not be worth it after all.