The Christmas party can make or break your career. It should not be seen as your annual opportunity to make a move on the office babe or show your colleagues how you can drink them under the table. It’s an extension of your work day and a great networking opportunity so standard office rules apply.
Follow these ten Christmas party dos and don’ts to make sure that you’re on your best behaviour and put your best foot forward for a promotion in the New Year.
- Attend the party: It is a career killer to miss out on the staff Christmas party. Put aside your misgivings, your gripes about your colleagues and try and get into the spirit of things. It’s not an option to miss out on the Christmas staff party.
- Turn up on time: You wouldn’t turn up to work late so it is also inappropriate to walk into an office party halfway after it is started. It is also bad manners to leave a Christmas party too early to time your exit appropriately.
- Adhere to the dress code: If your Christmas party has a strict dress code (link to article about how to dress for office Christmas party), make sure that you follow this to the letter whether it be a formal gathering, casual attire or a fancy dress party. It’s always better to be overdressed then underdressed.
- Watch your alcohol intake: A good rule of thumb with alcohol is to have one alcoholic drink and then one bottle of water, soft drink or juice. In addition, make sure you have a meal first before you start drinking.
- Network with your colleagues: This is your chance to speak to the decision makers of your company in an informal setting. Approach them at the start of the night when you have a clear head but don’t monopolise their company.
- Bring your significant other (if applicable): This means a husband, wife or a long term (over one year) girlfriend or boyfriend. Don’t consider the office Christmas party to be an open bar or a first date venue.
- Show respect to others: Mingle with everyone and not just your work clique. Acknowledge your colleague’s spouses and speak to everyone at the office Christmas party regardless of their status in the company. Not everyone in your company may celebrate Christmas, drink alcohol or eat meat so be mindful of this and show respect to your colleagues.
- Be politically correct: Basic dinner table manners apply – do not discuss politics, economics or religion, make inappropriate jokes or swear.
- Be a good sport: Get into the Christmas spirit. If games are being held or volunteers are being asked for, this is your chance to step directly into the spotlight and get the attention of the decision makers of your company.
- Arrange transport home: If you are planning to drink, make sure you know how you are getting home before you start drinking. Grab a taxi voucher (if your company is providing them), arrange to sleep over a colleague’s place or catch public transport home.
- Don’t bare too much flesh: You are still representing your work at the Christmas party. It’s better to dress conservatively and appropriately than dress skimpily at the Christmas party no matter how hot your party dress or the weather conditions.
- No shop talk: Leave work back at the office. The Christmas party is a time to get to know your colleagues on a personal basis without deadlines looming over you.
- No complaining: The Christmas party is not the forum to air your complaints about your boss, colleagues or lack of promotion.
- Don’t gossip: Don’t engage in gossip about what other people are wearing at the Christmas party, your thoughts about the CEO’s partner or the hot wait staff. You never know who is listening around the corner, in another toilet cubicle or sitting at your table.
- No talking about personal issues: Alcohol can loosen the tongue and you can find yourself talking about your intimate details of your relationship or money woes but your colleagues are on a need to know basis. Personal information can be used against you.
- Don’t be a bore: No one wants to hear stories about your great promotion, your quick career jump or monopolising the conversation about your work achievements. Take an interest in the person next to you and try and engage them in conversation about things they are interested in. You don’t want to be labelled as the office bore.
- No hanky panky: This is not the time to make your move on the office secretary, be touchy feely with your colleagues, flirt with your colleagues or act inappropriately. Sexual harassment rules still apply at the office Christmas party and it is seen as a work function in the eyes of the law.
- Don’t show off your dance moves: This is no time to show off your MC Hammer dance moves or go crazy on the dance floor to try and impress your colleagues. It may have worked in Saturday Night Fever but this is no quick-step to a promotion. Similarly, the karaoke machine should be left to the professionals.
- Don’t overstay your welcome: Keep to deadline. If the party invite reads 6pm-11pm, make sure you are not there beyond 11pm. Try and leave before the party finishes. If, despite all the warnings, you do find you have drunk too much, then leave immediately – in a taxi.
- Come to work hung-over: Having a ‘sickie’ the day after the work party or turning up late after the Christmas party is incredibly unprofessional. If the directors of the company can come in at 9am sharp, so can you.
An office Christmas party can be a great networking opportunity, a chance to get to bond with your colleagues and get to know them on a personal level. By following these simple tips, you can ensure you’re not the water cooler topic the day after the Christmas staff party for all the wrong reasons.