Christmas Party at workThe official season to be jolly is upon us! However, it’s a potential nightmare wrapped up in a shiny cracker: your credibility and future career chances could suffer once the alcohol begins to flow. How can you focus on enjoying the festivities and avoid a faux pas underneath the mistletoe? It’s actually pretty simple…

Pace yourself… and don’t make any snap career decisions
In a 2014 poll by former music streaming company blinkbox (now part of TalkTalk), 20% of staff admitted to kissing a colleague at the office party; 2% admitted to quitting their jobs. Both tend to be booze-fuelled decisions that seem like great ideas at the time, so it’s wise to step away from the bottomless bar – and maybe fill up on food and sip some water.

William Hanson, etiquette expert and teacher at the English Manner, told the Telegraph that “the mistake that people make with office Christmas is that it is still a work event and I think a lot of people see it as, ‘Oh good, free booze, free food, well let’s be merry.”

Etiquette guide Debrett’s warns: “You are socialising with colleagues under the watchful eye of those higher up the food chain. Be smart and social, but know when to draw the line.”

Carry yourself with professional style and grace
Keep idle gossip, rumours, politics and religion for your personal friendship circle. 2016 was certainly an eventful year, but stay away from topics that caused tension in the office! Stick to socially friendly things such as family, hobbies, children, holidays etc.

As Debrett’s reminds us, you’re still under scrutiny, so maybe leave the too-revealing outfit for celebrating New Year with your friends. Stick to classic ‘office to bar’-style clothing that can be played down in the day, but dressed up with extra jewellery, fancier shoes or makeup in the evening.

Body language speaks volumes, so make sure you’re not caught under the mistletoe or getting too carried away with flirty dancing. You don’t want to wake up the next morning with regrets or, worse still, flashbacks!

Stay a little while
A lot of time or effort goes into planning an office party; if you go, make an effort to last at least the first round of drinks and pleasant chatter. It’ll help cement your reputation as a team player. But don’t feel obligated to stay out all night – manage expectations by saying you’re staying for one if you have to, then politely bow out when you’re ready.

Work the room
Expand your usual social circle and speak to colleagues you don’t normally hang out or work with. If you see anyone on their own, then go right up and connect with them – it’s easy to feel awkward at parties, so fall back on the soft, friendly topics we mentioned earlier. If you’ve never spoken to particular people before, now’s a great time to forge some new relationships and boost your existing connections.

Have a great time!