The office party can be tricky. You want to have fun, but you're also being held to the same standards that you would be at work. One wrong move could earn you a serious warning from your line manager. But, if you avoid joining in completely, you could unwittingly brand yourself the office Scrooge.
So, here's a rundown of our 12 tips for surviving your office party!
1. Don't Overindulge
Essentially, know your limits!
Helping yourself to too much food and drink can give the impression that you're only there for a free meal. Similarly, that extra glass of wine might seem like a good idea at the time, but it could result in some pretty embarrassing dancing later on.
2. Respect People's Personal Space
Don't be too familiar with your colleagues. A quick hug or stroke of the arm may seem innocent to you, but it could leave your co-worker feeling uncomfortable. No one wants to be pulled into an awkward HR meeting because they were trying to give an overly friendly embrace to the new starter.
3. Dress to Impress (Yourself)
You might be dying to try out that funny Christmas jumper that you picked up in the January sales last year. But, if it's a black-tie event that you're going to, you're guaranteed to "stick out like a sore thumb," and not in a good way!
Instead, make the wise choice and stick to the dress code! If in doubt, overdressing is a good way to show that you've put the effort in. But before you don your top hat and monocle, make sure that you feel comfortable and confident in your outfit. Feeling self-conscious about your appearance could negatively impact your socializing skills.
4. Check the Guest List
Boisterous behavior and in-jokes might have your co-workers "in stitches," but they could fall flat with your company's clients or business partners.
Losing a contract for your firm because a client caught you flirting with their husband would be more than a little embarrassing. Yes, you might be enjoying a fun night out, but you still have a professional reputation to maintain!
5. Manners Maketh the Man
They say that a reputation takes a lifetime to build and only seconds to destroy. So, save that risqué joke for your friends at home, turn up on time, and thank the organizers at the end of the night. And remember, good manners cost nothing, but bad manners could cost you your future.
6. Don't Judge Nonattenders
Office parties aren't for everyone. Make sure you don't put pressure on those that aren't drinking, need to leave early, or are skipping the occasion entirely. They might have good reasons for doing so.
So, stop being judgmental, and remember that, while you might consider your office party to be the social event of the season, others may not. And that's OK.
7. Be a Social Butterfly
On the other hand, the office party is a great opportunity to socialize, and to get to know people from across the business that you might not meet that often. Be sure to break out from your normal social circle and mingle with those you wouldn't normally speak to. You may find that you have more in common with them than you thought.
And put your phone down! Checking your messages or "Facebooking" all night could make you look disengaged, distracted and unapproachable.
8. Beware of Social Media
Gone are the days when our most embarrassing moments could be buried forever in our feeble memories.
No, nowadays your attempt to dance "the macarena" can be immortalized on social media. And you don't want to go "viral" because someone managed to capture your spectacular tumble at the bar.
9. The Party "Fling"
An office romance can be tricky enough, without kicking it off at an office party. Not only could you have to face that same person at Monday morning's meeting, but you'll also have to deal with the inevitable rumor mill. In terms of office party faux pas, this is among the worst, and it can have a lasting impact – not just for you, but for those around you, too.
10. Leave Work at Work
Avoid shoptalk and relax. If you're after a pay rise or promotion, now is not the time to discuss it with your boss. Instead, chat to her about her holiday plans, her home life, or her interests. Office parties are a perfect opportunity to get to know each other beyond work.
11. Don't Break the Bank
Your new outfit plus that round of drinks that you owe Kevin from accounts can all add up. Budgeting helps, but remember that budgets will vary among your co-workers. Some may be able to splash the cash, but others may not!
Don't buy your Secret Santa an expensive watch when all they could afford was a pair of mittens. And if you're worried about overspending on the night, why not avoid temptation and leave your credit card at home?
12. Have a Plan!
If you intend to enjoy a tipple, book a cab. If you're expected in the office the next day, make sure that you'll be fit for work by the morning. Most importantly, don't call in sick. No one will believe that you have suddenly come down with the flu when they saw you dancing "the robot" not 12 hours earlier.
Are you an office party pro or an office party pooper? What top tips do you have for surviving office parties? What happy memories or horror stories do you have of them? Share your thoughts in the Comments section, below.