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How to survive the office Christmas party

Updated: Dec 8, 2023

Career coach and co-founder of The Workers Journal Eunice Asante lists some of her dos and don'ts for this year's Christmas party season.

Once, I was invited to an office Christmas party that left me speechless and shaking in disbelief. It involved drunk members of senior management and heads of service twerking. I wish I were making this up, but I still have flashbacks.


With Christmas approaching, you are probably receiving invites to Christmas office parties. Everyone knows these events are a chance to socialise and let your hair down, but if you are not careful, you can potentially embarrass yourself or ruin future career prospects.


There is no need to dread your office Christmas party. I've written the following guide of dos and don'ts to ensure your office party goes smoothly and you still have a job to go to in January.


RSVP

Let me start by saying if you are invited to your office party, do try to attend (or at least RSVP) as these parties can be a nightmare to organise and plan.


If you are attending an office party, make the effort to put yourself out there and interact with new and old faces.


Showing an interest and networking within your workforce can take your career to the next level and help you to forge new working relationships or mend bridges.


Now, with that being said, the following points below are the things I never want to see or hear AKADi Magazine readers doing at an office party.


Dress Code

At the office party I mentioned earlier, I knew the night would be interesting when I arrived wearing a classic evening cocktail dress, only to be met by a few colleagues who barely had any clothes on (in winter).


I'm not here to judge anyone's fashion choices, but the office party should not be where you decide to bear all or be risqué. Alcohol, dancing and poor clothing choices do not mix well together.


Remember, the office party is not just any party - it's a work event and should be handled with an air of professionalism, and that goes for what you choose to wear. If you are in doubt, check what your colleagues are wearing, and if what you are wearing would cause a shock at work, then say no.


Now, I will say that just because you are staying professional does not mean you can't dress to impress. Making an effort with your appearance at office parties can signify confidence and influence how others feel about you.


Socialise


Nothing is worse than people who come to office parties and never socialise. They stick to themselves, are glued to their phones and make no effort. In my opinion, this can be just as damaging as being drunk.


This type of behaviour screams of ungratefulness, indicates that you ae not a team player, makes you stick out – and not for good reasons. The office party is a great way to get to know people and be known, and it is the perfect opportunity to build partnerships and friendships and show your team what a great person you are.


Don't be afraid to start conversations, greet people, have fun and thank the organisers before you leave. It may seem trivial, but we are social beings, and people remember how you made them feel. So why not use your next office partnership as your springboard for networking and building rapport?


With alcohol, less is more because what happens at the office party doesn't usually stay at the office party.

Alcohol

One essential ‘don't’ is not to drink too much. Again, at the same office party I mentioned previously, a senior manager got drunk even before we had finished our three-course meal. He then spent the rest of the evening being held up by one of her teammates to stop her from falling on the floor.

I hate to say it, but I never looked at her the same. It was embarrassing (for her). I kept thinking how bad she would feel Monday morning when her team avoided eye contact.


You never want to be the person that can't handle their drink, therefore, decide beforehand how much you intend to drink and stick to that. With alcohol, less is more because what happens at the office party doesn't usually stay at the office party.


Gossip

Gossip and office parties go hand in hand, but please refrain from gossiping or being involved in gossip. If you find yourself standing with people who are gossiping, politely remove yourself or try to change the subject.


What goes around comes around, and gossip tends to be found out. Yes, you may be at an event, but always remember it's a work event; therefore, keep conversations light, fun and gossip-free. If you're the type to get loose-lipped once you've had a drink or will feel tempted to overshare and bare all once you've had a drink, this is more reason to limit alcohol. Once something has been said, it's hard to take it back. Instead, try focusing conversations on team successes, future projects, personal goals, hobbies, and interests outside of work - anything except gossip.


Dancing

We all love a good dance. I won't say ‘no’ to a good tune, but the office party is not the place to practise your Beyoncé moves. No one should see you drop it down low.


Again, at the same office party, I was shocked to see how many of my colleagues thought it was ok to start twerking aggressively. Getting lost in a good tune is easy, but you must stay focused.


I would never promote someone I was worried could not conduct themselves in social settings. Do not do anything that would make you feel uncomfortable on Monday morning.


Do have a dance, have fun and get involved, it's ok to let your hair down and to have a good time. But please remember you are at a work event, not a private concert in your bedroom. Keep it professional.


Know when to call it a night

Lastly, all good things must end, so knowing when to leave the office party is important. If you don't have an exit plan, consider how you will leave the event. Consider the venue and type of event that has been organised and avoid going too early or being the last man standing.


As the night progresses, take stock of what your colleagues are doing. Are people getting a little bit too merry? Is the party dying down? Are people requesting to sing karaoke with the microphone? All of which could be your cue to leave.


December is the season to be merry, so I hope you are looking forward to socialising, building better relationships with colleagues and letting loose after another year of the 9-5 grind. We all work hard, so opportunities for play are really important.


Just remember what happens at the office party rarely stays at the office party, so keep it professional.



Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

Till next Year

Eunice

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