So, it’s that time of the year again. Trees have gone up, the office is all Christmassy, some people have covered their desk with tinsel and some familiar songs are being repeated on the radio, perhaps too often.
Now, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas work party. Usually, these parties are a great way to celebrate the Christmas holiday with your colleagues, as well as a way of getting to know them outside of the workplace; however, a Christmas party with your company is far different from a Christmas party with your friends.
I've compiled some highlights to help you navigate the potential pitfalls and avoid a call from HR in the New Year.
You don’t have to be boring or afraid to talk to anyone – just use a little common sense and you’ll still have fun. It may put you out of your comfort zone but you should try and get involved whether it be an activity, fancy dress or simply attending at all. Christmas parties are a great way to form a bond with your co-workers which can not only help make your working life more enjoyable but also lead to a lasting friendship that extends beyond the office. Make sure you talk to people from different departments; it could be a great opportunity for you to meet new people and also strengthen your network in the New Year so when your computer packs up or you have an accounting issue, you could have the name for the colleague who can make things happen.
Make sure you pace yourself. I won’t sit here and tell you that you don’t deserve a few drinks at your Christmas party this year, however, what I will say, it might be a good idea to take it easy. Tequila shots might seem like a good idea at the time but I would hazard a guess that your colleagues might not appreciate having to carry you home because no taxi will take you or try to wake you up after you have passed out in a bar that you’re in. This is especially true if you have an all-day event. Take your time and ensure that a day you want to remember doesn’t turn into a day you can’t remember or would rather forget.
I would also keep in mind what you have planned the next day. If you have the party on a Friday, then not to worry, but if it falls on a weekday, just be mindful of what you have going on at work the following day. You wouldn’t want to be hungover in an important meeting or any meeting for that matter... Make sure you have everything ready for the next day before you go out. This will make waking up in the morning that little bit easier and pain-free. Have a good breakfast and get on with it. Whatever you do, don’t call in sick! Just get to work on time and laugh off any embarrassing moments from the night before. Everyone will be in the same boat. At the same time, know what you are capable of the next day. Just because you are hungover, doesn’t mean you can get away with not doing any work.
It is important to have a sense of fun, but also to be yourself. Sometimes, there is a lot of pressure to feel like you are “part of the gang”. There might be groups of co-workers that you’d like to be part of and it can be tempting to see the work party as an opportunity to show them how much fun you are. You will gain a lot more by just being part of the group rather than the center of attention. Some things to avoid would be break dancing, loudly telling your best joke or making fun of your boss.
Also, keep it light and positive. You might have had a tough time at work recently, you may not feel appreciated and whoever just got that promotion you really wanted, doesn’t deserve it but the worst thing you could do is start shouting about it at the work party. No one wants to hear it when they are trying to have fun and it certainly won’t help your career in the slightest. Your time will come, so just enjoy yourself and keep the conversation positive. After all, it is Christmas!
Be wary of how you behave around the management team; you really don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of them. You might see the party as an opportunity to buddy up to the boss. What you may not have thought about is the fact that a number of people would have had the same idea and your boss may want to enjoy the party too. It won’t do you any favours so just thank them for the food/drink/entertainment and wish them a Merry Christmas. Keep it professional, your boss is highly unlikely to find you anywhere as funny as you think you are, especially after you have had a few too many Jägerbombs.
Don’t take this advice as “don’t have any fun”. Enjoy your Christmas party, you deserve it. Have a drink and celebrate these years’ achievements with your colleagues. Just don’t let it become a night that you will be embarrassed about for weeks.
Most of all; enjoy yourself and allow others to enjoy themselves. You have worked hard all year so take the time to relax and enjoy the festive period.