‘Tis the season to be jolly. But if you are attending the office Christmas party the jolliness needs to be tempered with some restraint and decorum. Yes, a festive shindig with your colleagues is an opportunity to let your hair down but you also want to make sure that your professional image and reputation remain intact the next morning.
To keep you on the straight and narrow, we have put together a guide to the essential etiquette rules of the office Christmas party.
Do Show Up
Do not be tempted to skip the office Christmas party unless you have a very good reason. It is bad manners not to put in an appearance and it could even have a negative effect on your career.
Remember, it is just one night and not turning up could have you labelled as unsociable and not a team player. Make sure that you RSVP as required and check the start time so you do not arrive an hour late.
Don’t hide in the corner
The Christmas party is a great opportunity to get to know the people outside of your department. Do not spend the entire evening chatting to your regular office buddies – take the time to mingle and grow your network.
If you want to join a group, wait for a break in the conversation and say something like: “This looks like a fun group, do you mind if I join you?” Make eye contact, smile and speak to everyone in a friendly, positive tone. Ask lots of questions and avoid controversial topics such as politics, religion or money.
Never leave anyone on their own when you want to move on from the conversation. Always introduce them to someone else before you make your excuses.
Business first, party second
Your colleagues and superiors may be decked out in sparkles but you are still in a professional setting. Do not complain about your job or gossip about your boss or colleagues as this could get you into trouble later. Remember the saying ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’ and adhere to it.
Bear in mind that the office party is not the right environment to approach your boss to ask for a promotion or pay rise. By all means, take the opportunity to introduce yourself to executives higher up the food chain but leave any shoptalk for working hours.
Dress to Impress
If there is a dress code, make sure you adhere to it. You will feel like a fool if you turn up in your flashing Rudolph jumper while everyone else is in black tie and cocktail dresses.
Generally speaking, for men you can’t go wrong with a standard suit and tie and women can dress up a classic black dress with heels and statement accessories. Make an effort to look smart and well-groomed but steer clear of outfits that are too short, tight or low-cut.
If the party is a sit-down dinner, make sure you test sitting down in your outfit to check it is not too revealing when in a seated position. And hopefully it goes without saying, but do not start removing your clothing when you hit the dance floor!
Do not Overindulge
The office Christmas party is a chance for employees to relax and reward themselves after a working year. The free drink may be flowing but bear in mind that almost all embarrassing Christmas party stories involve alcohol. Too much booze can have a negative impact on your professional image and career.
It is important to know your limits and moderation is key when it comes to drinking at the office Christmas party. If you know the focus is going to be on drinking rather than eating, it is a good idea to have a meal before the party to line your stomach.
Try to stick to the two-drink rule if you can and remember to have a glass of water in-between alcoholic drinks. If someone buys you a drink, it is polite to reciprocate but there should be no pressure to match other people drink by drink. It is absolutely fine to order a soda water or ginger ale with a twist of lime for yourself.
Put your Phone Away
When you are at the office Christmas party, try to put your phone away and be in the moment. Do not sit in the corner and text your friends or check their updates on Facebook.
On a similar note, it is not always a good idea to post photographs of the evening’s shenanigans onto social media. Be aware that sharing inappropriate social media content could reflect badly on the company you work for. If people are taking pictures at the Christmas party, they should only be shared with the consent of the person in the picture.
Send a thank you
Planning an event is no easy task so don’t forget to thank the people who coordinated the party – either in person, with a card or via email. Not only is it the polite thing to do, it also makes you stand out from the many employees who do not bother to say thank you.