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Top 10 tips to survive the office Christmas party...

Posted by
01 Dec 2014
It is officially the start of the Christmas party season and millions of employees across the UK will be hitting the town to celebrate.

The British Christmas party is something of an annual institution. We've all been given terrible Secret Santa gift or heard tales of misused photocopiers and snogging in the stationary cupboard. The trend for parties in the office tends to have passed, as businesses realise that outsourcing the risks, and the clean up, is preferable!

It is a time to celebrate the years success with your colleagues and for managers to thank their teams for their hard work. It is a time to relax and enjoy yourself, but it is important to keep in mind that the Christmas party is an extension of your normal working environment, which means that employers are held responsible for their employee's actions.

A survey taken by the  Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) revealed that one in ten workers know of someone from their organisation who has either been disciplined or dismissed for inappropriate behaviour at the staff Christmas party.   

Many companies see an increase in complaints following on from Christmas parties related to sexual harassment and offensive behavior which can lead to disciplinary action and, in extreme cases, dismissal.

It is important that employers send out a clear message about what is acceptable behaviour and the consequences of inappropriate actions. Employees should be clear about the consequences before attending the party. But if it isn't clear, here's my top tip to walk away with your dignity intact!

  1. Ensure you know where the party is, when to arrive and how to get there. This will ensure you arrive on time and the festivities aren't held up because of you.
  2. Consider your transport home - the party could be in an area you are not familiar with and you don't want to find yourself stranded.
  3. Dress appropriately - if your company have chosen a fancy dress theme then it's essential to make an effort, regardless of how daft you may feel. If there is no theme, find out what your colleagues will be doing and don't wear anything too revealing for the occasion.
  4. Never complain about the food! Even it falls below expected standards it is likely a large amount of time and money has been spent on it so eat the things you like.  
  5. Remember to bring cash. Not all companies have the budget to lay on an open bar all night. It would be embarrassing if you could not pay for drinks after the complimentary bar has ended.
  6. Avoid talking shop all evening. Try and find some common ground to chat to people across the business.  Mingle, don't stick with the same people all night or monopolise one person. And don't just talk - be sure to listen too.
  7. Don't lavish praise on the boss, criticise your colleagues or fish for compliments from management. This inevitably falls into talking shop, and even the most understanding of managers may find this embarrassing and possibly unprofessional! 
  8. Steer clear of arguments and gossip. A colourful debate is one thing, but personal remarks can creep in and turn a discussion into an argument or worse - do you want to be remembered for being involved in that? 
  9. Monitor your drinking. Throw in some soft drinks and try to resist the inevitable peer pressure to indulge in tequila shots. It's a time to celebrate, but you know for sure that everyone will be talking about the gossip from the Christmas party for months, or even years, to come - do you want that gossip to be centred around your inability to hold your drink? And remember, if your party is on a week night, it's very poor form to call in sick the next day!
  10. Stay away from the mistletoe!  Studies have shown that one third of all couples meet at work and considering how much time you spend there, this is hardly surprising.  However, using the Christmas party to make your move on the colleague you've always secretly had the hots for, is not a good strategy - especially if fuelled by alcohol.  Remember you have to work with them all year - leave the festive blushes to Rudolph!
Ultimately, the main thing you should do is have fun! Get involved with games and activities and hit the dance floor. The organisers will have spent a lot of time making sure that you have an enjoyable evening, so why be cynical about it? You work hard all year, you deserve to have fun!

Have you heard any Christmas Party horror stories, or ever had to discipline someone for their behaviour? Or is it all harmless fun that people should forget about? Join the discussion below...
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