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How to behave at the office Christmas party

It’s that time of year. Holiday season is upon us which means you might well be rocking up to an office Christmas party.

Have a great time, but remember that an office Christmas party is no excuse to behave badly or make a fool of yourself. Doing so can be career limiting. It can also make you feel awkward when you next face your supervisor or colleagues.

Here’s your guide for behaving at this year’s office Christmas party.

Dress appropriately

It’s a festive time of year and a bit of glam is great but overly short and/or revealing outfits aren’t the way to go. Remember, this is a business event. So even if the party may be taking place after hours, don’t dress like you’re heading to a nightclub. Also, if there’s a dress code or a party theme, adhere to it to show you’re a team player.

Control your alcohol intake

The last thing you want is to wake up the day after your office Christmas party with a hangover and no memory of how you behaved or got home. Getting wasted and behaving like a fool is fodder for office gossip. It’s also a sure-fire way to leave a bad impression on your boss.

Don’t flirt

Keep yourself in check, especially if you’re tipsy. The office Christmas party (or every day at work for that matter) isn’t the time to make inappropriate advances. You could end up with a sexual harassment complaint (or a lawsuit) on your hands.

Avoid serious work conversations

This is a social celebration, not a serious networking event or opportunity to boast about your ambitions. It’s also not the time to tackle a colleague about something that’s bugging you. Keep matters fun and light. If confronted with a challenging or inappropriate conversation, move on and find someone else to talk too.

Don’t corner your boss

Your office Christmas party is about celebrating everyone’s contribution to the workplace. It’s not the time to corner your boss so they can’t mingle with others.

Tuck away the technology

It’s professional and courteous to engage at the party, not be preoccupied with your phone. It’s rude to sit on the sidelines using your smartphone to a) conduct work, b) text or email friends, c) play around on social media.

Don’t post photos without permission

Ask what the photo protocol is before the party and stick to the rules. It’s not acceptable to take photos of colleagues and post them online without their permission, and why would you need to do that anyway? Never tag anyone without their permission.

Be social

Your Christmas party isn’t the time to hang out with a close work colleague and ignore everyone else. This is time to say hello and get to know your colleagues a bit better.

Don’t gossip or whinge

There’s no room for gossiping or whinging at the party. Instead, be positive and upbeat. If you don’t want to engage with someone because of an unhealthy work relationship, find others in the room to talk too.

Don’t take advantage

If your boss is picking up the bill at the bar, that’s no signal to take advantage by ordering the most expensive drinks in town. Be sensible, reasonable and fair.

Don’t leave too early

Chance are your workplace has invested time, effort and money into organising your Christmas party. Respect that by staying for an acceptable period. Investing a little bit of time shows you appreciate what organisers have done. It’s also courteous.

Say thanks

Don’t just duck out the door when heading home. Make sure you say goodbye and thank those who organised the event for doing so. Wish everyone a happy holiday. Say you’re looking forward to working with colleagues next year.

Don’t drink and drive

If you intend to have a few drinks at the office Christmas party, leave the car at home or at work. Don’t drink and drive. If you’re seen doing so, it could be a big stain on your reputation.

Last, but not least

Always, remember that while this is a social event, workplace consequences still apply across the board.

Want to learn more?

How to avoid being in the firing line

Seven ways to stop office gossip

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