How to Survive the Office Christmas Party

December 2, 2013
Corporate Christmas Gifts

Have you ever been to a work Christmas party where a colleague or their guest behaved really badly, spoiling the event for everyone around them?  Do you know someone who has hurt themself or other people, disrupted the party or undermined the festive spirit?

How people choose to behave at Christmas functions undoubtedly leaves lasting impressions and influences the way other people perceive them, including their suitability for opportunities that come along.  Poor decisions at a Christmas party can affect a person career for years after the event.  Have you ever lost respect for someone because of the way they behaved at a work event?  What about your own experiences; have you ever done something at a Christmas party that led to others losing trust in or respect for you?

Here are a few ‘must do’ behaviours for your office Christmas party that could have a positive impact on your professional reputation and career:

1. Attend whenever possible
People who actively participate in their work life, including staff functions are more likely to be perceived as valuable contributors to the success of the business and team.

2. Bring a positive attitude
You choose how you feel, so choose to get into the spirit of the festive season and enjoy a celebration with the people you work with.

3. Say thank you
Most likely someone has put a lot of work into making the event happen.  No matter what you think of the food, music or drinks, be grateful for the efforts made and show appreciation.

The list of ‘no go’ behaviours are just a few of those you need to steer well clear of if you want to avoid damaging your career at the Christmas party:

1. Arriving late:  it’s OK to be a little late, but turning up well into the event is rude and likely to be frowned upon by some people. Sneaking in during the speeches to a meal that has gone cold waiting for you will probably be noticed.

2. Drinking excessively: make sure you remain in control of your behaviour.  When intoxicated you are more likely to behave in ways you will later regret including stepping over boundaries you wouldn’t if sober.

3. Broadcasting your disapproval: vocalising your distaste with the choice of event, catering or venue is unlikely to be well received.   You will be especially unpopular if you choose to complain publicly.

4. Dressing provocatively:  consider carefully what is culturally appropriate for your organisation and dress accordingly.  Dressing in ways that make other people uncomfortable can make them question your judgment or moral standards.

5. Forgetting your manners: avoid over indulging at the buffet, eating with your hands (unless its that kind of meal), leaping on the last piece of cake or burping after a swig of coke or beer.  While everyone’s expectations are different most people expect you to behave with decorum.

Karen Gately is a highly-regarded thought leader in the fields of human performance and leadership.  A founder of Ryan Gately, a specialist HR consultancy practice, Karen is the author of the People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people and The Corporate Dojo: driving extraordinary results through spirited people. For more information visit

Do you have a funny office Christmas party story? Share it in the comments!

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