The definitive guide to Christmas party etiquette

From what to wear and what to drink, this is how best to behave at the office party. And no, you shouldn't be dropping your trousers by the photocopier...

The office Christmas party is fraught with potential problems — and tinsel. Once a year, we deck the halls with our deskmates, shut down our computers and bring out the drinks. Deadlines are forgotten, documents are hidden and we put on such a spread that spreadsheets couldn’t be further from our minds. It should be fun; it rarely is.

Instead, we tend to spend these evenings drinking too much, winding up our coworkers and making general fools of ourselves. But don’t despair. Put down the industrial-strength eggnog and listen up — for there is another way. Below, we’ve outlined the cardinal Christmas sins commonly committed at these seasonal office shindigs, and how you can artfully sidestep them. Who knows, you might even have some fun…

Dress appropriately

office christmas party

First thing’s first; get your outfit in order. Because, while it may be acceptable to shed your shirt and tie and change for something a little more comfortable for your Christmas party, the moment you emerge from the gents bedecked in a light-up jumper and tinsel-tousled deely boppers, you’ll lose any professional reputation you’ve built up in the office.

Also steer clear of novelty ties. They’re a no-no. Avoid the cliches and opt for something more subtle instead. Ditch your suit jacket and pull on a dark green cashmere rollneck, for example, or a burgundy velvet button-down. This way, you’re still getting into the Christmas spirit, but will also ensure you don’t look like a prat.

Don’t get too drunk

The urge to pour a second sneaky hip flask of vodka, or brandy, or bourbon into the punch bowl may be overwhelming, but try to restrain yourself. It may, initially, seem fun to see your coworkers stumbling around blind drunk — in fact, you might think you need some Dutch courage to get through a social situation with Jeff from accounts — but no good can come of getting seasonally sozzled.

Instead, pace yourself. Keeping yourself on the cusp of tipsy will allow you to judge your jokes and conversational boundaries while still having fun. This way, you’ll have no inhibitions about swaying along to Shakin’ Stevens, but you also won’t be tempted to swing from the strip lights.

Don’t be a gossip

No-one likes Linda. You know it. We all know it. Linda probably even knows it. So what good can come of loudly whispering it to everyone in the office when you’re halfway down your fifth G&T? There’s nothing worse than a gossip at a workplace party; someone who has a couple of shots and then immediately starts spilling beans all over the place; letting embarrassing cats out of cringeworthy bags.

So, however much you drink (see above), remember to zip that lip. Enjoy some mild-mannered, fun conversation and try not to put your foot in it. Don’t let everyone know that Steve is cheating on Anna with Emma. Don’t reveal that you’ve been thinking of quitting all autumn. And, whatever you do, don’t be mean to Linda.

Don’t talk to your boss

Another don’t for the list; don’t corner your boss. Just give them a wide berth. There’s nothing worse than getting trapped with the person who pays your salary and accidentally letting slip that you hate your job — or worse, them.

That goes for supervisors and subordinates, too. If you spend too much time drinking with people not at your management level, you’ll inevitably make it awkward for yourself come the new year. If the secrets are coming out, and people are having a laugh at the expense of others, step away.

Keep your trousers on around the photocopier

Oh, what a lark! Making countless copies of your own arse. Potentially hilarious, yes, but this age-old office party tradition is funnier in films, or dinner party anecdotes. In real life, it’s probably a lot harder than you think — and office-based nudity is never encouraged.

Not only that, but you’ll be finding that ill-fated photostat around the office for years to come. Notice boards, binders, rarely opened drawers — you name it. That copy will haunt you for life; a ghost of Christmas cheeks.

Don’t sleep with anyone

If you’re keeping your trousers on around the photocopier, try to apply the same rule around your coworkers. While an office fling may be exciting, the time to embark on one is not just after the Mariah Carey karaoke’s wrapped up and you’ve drained your seventh snowball. Wait until the new year to act on your intentions, when you’ve got a clearer, un-novelty-antlered head.

Aside from those simple rules, crank up the Bing Crosby, reach for your Secret Santa present and have a merry, merry time.

Wondering what to wear to your Christmas party? Here’s how to nail black tie on a budget…

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