It’s December and you know what that means – the start of the office Christmas party season! Businesses around the UK , small and big, are getting ready for the single event that could make or break a career.

As someone who works from home, I no longer have the pleasure (?) of attending the office Christmas party, but it wasn’t so long ago when I did. So, I feel qualified to share some tips on how people can survive the office Christmas party with their careers intact. I must stress that these tips are for those parties that are held in countries where alcohol is served and consumed in rather large quantities.

Here are my tips and some vocabulary (the phrases in orange are collocation chunks).

Before the party

Go to the party: The office Christmas party is the company’s way of thanking its staff, so declining to attend the party could be seen as a rebuff  (rejection) and may negatively affect your career.

Line your stomach:  My husband, who is an expert in these things, says it’s very important that you eat before you go out and start having too many alcoholic drinks. This is particularly important in cultures like the UK where people often drink without eating.

Dress correctly: Don’t wear clothes that are too revealing. You don’t want to draw the wrong kind of attention. Having said that, do take time to dress up. I remember how we ladies would rush off into the ladies’ room and spend nearly an hour getting into our party frocks, freshening up or redoing our make-up, spraying ourselves with perfume and hairspray and finally tottering out in our high heels. What would the men have done? Sprayed some deodorant, quick change of shirt (if that) and off they’d go! Zero points for effort.

During the party

Socialise with everyone: When you arrive, don’t go straight to the bar. Mingle with people first. 

Avoid the mistletoe: Mistletoe is used as a Christmas decoration, and it is traditional to kiss someone under it. That’s fine at home, but should be avoided at the office party unless you’ve always wanted to kiss the guy from Accounts! But then if you do,  is it going to be a light peck (kiss) on the cheek or a no holds barred passionate kiss?!

Don’t be memorable: We all want people to notice us, especially those senior managers. However, do you really want them to remember you for your Gangnam- style dance routine, your drunken speech or your flirtatious behaviour with the boss?

Keep your opinions to yourself: You have some innovative ideas on how the company should be run and senior management encourage staff to share such ideas. However, the office Christmas party is not the place to voice those ideas. As the saying goes, there is a time and place for everything.  More importantly, the office party is not the place to tell senior management what you really think of your Sales Manager.

Steer clear of social media: There is nothing worse than having too much to drink and tweeting about what you really think about your boss. Or confessing your secret, forbidden thoughts about your colleague to that colleague. It’s best to avoid drunk dialling (informal), drunk texting and drunk posting altogether.

Me, me, me: Don’t you just hate it when you’re face to face with some person who can’t stop talking about how well they’re doing, what bonus they’re hoping to receive at the end of the year or how well their latest idea was received by senior management? Well, don’t be that person.

Too much information: Then there’s always that person who thinks it’s funny to share everything and anything about their lives, personally and professionally, with anyone who is within earshot.

Have fun and dance the night away: If your office party is in the evening and there is music with dancing, there’s nothing better than to get onto the dance floor and shake those hips! Unfortunately most British men need a few drinks in them before they’ll hit that dance floor and when they do,  it’s a sorry sight. Sorry chaps, but it’s true.
However, be careful that you don’t dance too provocatively/erotically, especially with senior management. It could be rather embarrassing to face them the following day.

You will have noticed that many of the tips refer to behaviour that is often linked to alcohol and its effects. For those of you who are teetotallers (don’t drink alcohol) or don’t have office parties where alcohol is served, please don’t get the wrong idea of office Christmas parties in the UK. They are truly enjoyable and most people behave very well and their careers do not suffer the following days and weeks. In fact, the office Christmas party is when people are in a great mood, full of Christmas cheer (food and drink) and where the Christmas spirit is at its best.

Are you attending an office Christmas party this year? Is it a big corporate event or smaller departmental do? Whatever it is, I hope you have a wonderful time.

Ciao for now