Don’t be a Christmas party turkey

December 11, 2002

Repeat after me: “I have 364 nights a year to misbehave. I will not make an idiot of myself at the office Christmas party.”Getting trashed at the office bash could sink your promotion prospects as senior managers may forgive but they may not necessarily forget.

Yes, people will notice you staggering into the night with that married coordinator from marketing. They will remember how you ricocheted off the matronly HR manager into a table of nibbles. And yes, the IT director will file away that crack you made about her documentation requests being the work of a control freak.

Even teetotalers should beware. Monopolising the boss, pitching for a promotion or running down a colleague are all considered bad form at the office party.

And for those of you who think it’s just all too hard, ducking the Chrissie bash is not an option. Being a good corporate citizen and a team player means showing up – even if it’s just for an hour or so.

The only option available to you is to BEHAVE. Here are ten tips to help you avoid becoming the office Christmas party turkey.

    1. Remember it’s a work function, not a social function. “Think about how you behave at any work function instead of how you behave at a party,” advises Melinda Stanley of Health Works Corporate.
    2. Read the signs. If the party is mid-week with plenty of carbohydrate-packed foods on hand such as pizza and bread, then chances are you’re expected to front for work the next day in a fully functioning state.
    3. Jacky Carter of recruitment giant Hays Personnel says it’s generally safe to take your cue from the senior managerial ranks. “If they are drinking, having fun and dancing then you can assume that it’s fine for you to do so too – just not to excess,” Jacky says.
    4. “Also keep in mind the post-party post mortem,” says Jacky. “If you are going to be talked about, make sure it’s because you are a good dancer or that you really can sing.”
    5. Dress appropriately. Again, think office, not nightclub. Plunging necklines, micro mini skirts or skintight pants might be revealing more about you than anyone cares to know.
    6. Make an effort to meet senior managers, but don’t monopolise them. Talk about something other than work. Keep it light. Opportunists make people nervous so using the Christmas party to lobby for a raise or a promotion might backfire.
    7. Take seriously any warnings issued by management prior to the party regarding alcohol consumption or other behaviour.
    8. Many companies no longer invite partners to the annual Christmas party for cost reasons. However, if they are invited, and you know their behavior will not be a problem, bring your partner along. Also identify the partners of key decision-makers and make light – and if possible – interesting conversation.
    9. Be wary of flirting colleagues – especially those who have been drinking. You could end up being sued for sexual harassment! Obviously avoid suggestive dancing with anyone – even your partner – and stay out of dark corners where lecherous colleagues might easily trap you.
    10. Keep to deadline. If the party invite reads 6pm-10pm, make sure you are not there beyond 10pm. Try and leave before the party finishes. If, despite all the warnings, you do find you’re getting a bit too squiffy, then leave immediately – in a taxi.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to for more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing:

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