When is a party not a (real) party: mistakes at work parties

There are whole ‘chapters’ online recounting the dreadful, disgusting, dissolute and degrading behaviour that has taken at work Christmas parties. In fact, one Reddit thread was dedicated solely to the terror tales. And many companies have built their own black legends over decades that involve shame and humiliation, lost jobs, ruined reputations and relationships … and even police, injuries and death.

So, what is it about work Christmas parties that overrides the decency and inhibition buttons that normally rule the most dignified and circumspect people?

It’s simple enough: they misconstrue the situation

Some workers take the word “party” as a prompt to throw out all the rules and behave badly. But that’s not what the end-of-year celebration is all about.

The work party is just another work event, dressed up in a different guise. And the same code of conduct applies – as it does to any other business function. And that applies to any party hosted by the company that employs you – whether it’s held on company time or during free time.

Throughout the year, it’s usual to celebrate other events – such as International Women’s Day, fun runs, dinners or the Annual Fundraising Ball, don’t we? But not by getting blind drunk, leaping onto the nearest table, tearing our clothes off, groping the Boss. Or worse.

(Of course, one would hope that you never see fit to behave like that, no matter how free the occasion. But that’s another story.)

While they’re certainly not the only ones to show themselves in a poor light, mostly it’s the younger generations of office workers who tend to screw up. And just in case that through a combination of high spirits (no pun intended) and a lack of social graces, here’s a quick run down of what you need to know.

What to do – and not do – at your office Christmas party this year.

Do attend. It’s all about team spirit – and if you’re not there (without a very good excuse) it will be noticed.

Leave the clubbing clothes  in the cupboard. Wear something smart, festive and decently covered. This is just another work day on steroids.

Stay awhile. QA hour is NOT enough. Even if you hate parties – and this one in particular – put on a big smile and hang in there. It’ll soon be over for another year.

Don’t drink alcohol. You read a lot about “one for Dutch courage” and “one drink per hour is safe.” Alcohol used as a social crutch can never be safe. And the one drink an hour is just plain silly. Think about it. Better safe than sorry. There are better times in your life to enjoy a quiet drink. Abstain at this party: you may be very glad you did!

Stay away from office gossip. Keep up the happy small talk by asking lots of questions about families, children, holidays, shared interests, general news – all that. Even work – but not tale telling.

Present well. The advice from one etiquette guru is simply this:  “Okay you can let your hair down but you are still being judged and watched by your superiors and your actions are still accountable.  The smarter people use the office Christmas party to present themselves in the best possible light

Think before you speak. Alcohol-fuelled romance is often in the air at holiday season events: according to a poll by blinkbox 20% of staff admit to having kissed a colleague and 14p% said they flirted with the boss. One in 50 said they had quit their job at the office party.

There – it’s not that hard is it?