The silly season is upon us again, meaning it’s time to hit the party circuit – including the annual work party. Here are some tips to make sure you have a great time and leave a good impression, regardless of whether you’re the boss or an employee.
While for some workers the office Christmas party (or non-denominational end-of-year party) is something to dread, for others it’s a welcome opportunity to eat, drink and be merry.
Either way, we’ve got you covered with this definitive list of office party dos and don’ts to make sure you have fun, while avoiding any career-derailing festive faux pas.
Unless you want to be known as the office Grinch, attending your work Christmas party is a non-negotiable (especially if you’re the host!). No doubt multiple people have gone to a lot of effort organising the event, so show your gratitude by turning up and bringing your A-game.
This means trying to get in the spirit and have some fun, even if a boat cruise/ bowling/ high ropes course isn’t your idea of a good time.
By getting involved, you’ll come across as a team player and a good sport – which is equally important for every member of the business.
Let’s face it – with its ability to loosen lips, cloud judgement and remove inhibitions, alcohol is the common denominator in virtually every office party horror story.
So, whether you’re the boss or the most junior employee, make sure you limit your drinks, pace yourself and alternate alcoholic beverages with water.
Keeping boozing to a minimum will not only prevent a nasty hangover, it’ll help preserve the professional reputation you’ve worked so hard for.
Even if you’re sticking to a sensible two or three-drink limit, it’s important to line your stomach.
READ: Giving tax-deductible and FBT-free Christmas gifts (Australia-only)
Heat, dehydration and hunger can make alcohol hit harder, faster. So, eat up to avoid getting tipsier than intended.
The office Christmas party is not the time to discuss salaries or give your direct reports an impromptu performance review. It’s also poor form to gossip about your colleagues, complain about your boss or criticise your employees, customers or suppliers.
A good rule of thumb for office parties (and life in general)? If you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all. If you know you’re one for getting stuck in after a few drinks, then I suggest referring to points 2 and 3 above.
Despite its informal nature, the office end-of-year party is a work function. This means acting and dressing in a professional manner.
Professional doesn’t have to mean dull, and you should definitely loosen your tie a little. But, if it’s something HR wouldn’t allow in the office, it has no place at a work party.
This means steering clear of controversial topics of conversation and acting in a polite and respectful manner. It’s also best to avoid any awkward encounters under the mistletoe and keep your intimate tattoos and piercings under wraps.
Your work party is the perfect opportunity to down tools and have some well-earned fun after a long year. So try not to spend the whole party discussing office politics.
Like you, your colleagues, staff and clients will have a life outside of the 9-to-5 grind. Exercise your curiosity and ask about their families, hobbies and interests. You might just find you have something in common besides a talent for crafting Powerpoint presentations.
Even if you’re shy, try to step outside your comfort zone and get to know your colleagues and clients better. There are few times everyone will be as relaxed and receptive.
Instead of sticking like glue to your ‘work spouse’, be brave and make an effort to mingle with as many guests as possible. You never know what friendships or new opportunities might come from flexing your networking muscle.
Addicted to your tech? Sorry, but it’s anti-social and disrespectful to your workmates to spend the night glued to your phone.
Resist the urge to scroll, or worse – upload overly ‘festive’ photos to social media, by turning your phone off and stashing it somewhere safe until it’s time to order your Uber.
If you don’t want to be crowned the office party animal, slip away when the going’s still good. This means leaving when you’re still having fun, but before you make any bad decisions.
Similarly, don’t rush away too early. Stay at least until any official proceedings, games and award ceremonies have wrapped up.