Tis' not the season for inappropriate use of the photocopier, riding swivel chairs or drinking to excess in the company of your colleagues.
The office Christmas party is the celebratory end to a year of target-smashing, pressure-evading, daily grinding and getting ahead. It's a time for sitting back, relaxing and a well-earned festive tipple or two.
Though as we all know, workplace Christmas parties don't always go as planned. So we've outlined a few pointers to perfect your party politesse, to save any awkwardness around the water cooler in January...
DRESS TO IMPRESS
If your party has a theme or dress code, adhere to it. It's always great to ditch the office attire in favour of something that showcases your personal style, though the office party is not your own personal catwalk.
Avoid garish outfits that will bring you the wrong kind of attention, don't feel the need to bare excess flesh (hey, it's winter) and ensure your outfit is immaculately assembled. Polish those shoes, crisp that shirt and press that dress. You're out in your own style, though you're still representing your company and under the watchful eye of clients and senior professionals. If in doubt, dress smarter than you think you should.
PERFECT YOUR POISE
On arrival, you'll no doubt have a glass of something delicious thrust into one hand, rendering you one-handed for the rest of the evening. Keep one hand free at all times in order to shake hands with others, open doors, pull out chairs and gesticulate. If your arms are loaded with champers, food plates, coats and the latest metallic clutch, you'll be a talking head with no ability to properly interact.
KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
The words ‘free bar’ can bring on a certain inner enthusiasm to indulge in a tad more than you usually might. Don't look upon it as a personal challenge between colleagues to see who can sink the most drink. If your usual social evening out ends at a respectable three or four glasses, go with three... and leave it there. The soft drinks will be free too!
REMEMBER TO EAT
Not only has a great deal of planning and preparation gone into the evenings catering, but an endless supply of fizz and an empty stomach don't make a great combination. Sample the delights yet avoid the need to eat to excess (save some for everyone else!). Eating buffet style? Use the napkins and utensils provided and avoid double-dipping (you know who you are).
LEAVE THE ENTERTAINMENT TO THE PROFESSIONALS
Whilst you may very well be the next big undiscovered star on the DJ scene, resist the temptation to jump on the decks and treat guests to your own playlist. The DJ has a job to do and isn't solely there to play your personal back catalouge of festive favourites.
The same goes for the evenings entertainment - leave any live performances, table dancing or acrobatics to those that are there to do it. Nobody wants to see your breakdancing routine.
Nobody likes to talk shop whilst they're supposed to be winding down. So try to steer the conversation away from office politics, next years' strategy or gripes about the daily grind. Take time to chat with colleagues you don't usually have the chance to bond with. It'll make for a stronger team in the New Year.
Ask questions to encourage others to talk about themselves (because who doesn't love that!). Discuss your festive plans, your family, your hobbies and ambitions. Do not indulge in any form of badmouthing of co-workers... or the boss.
MIX AND MINGLE
It's tempting to take root at a table full of familiar faces, though a room full of cliques does not make a party. Circulate. Keep conversations to 15 minutes or so rather than hogging one person for an hour. You may find you establish new friendships you never realised were there.
AVOID A CASE OF TMI*
As the drinks flow, so will the conversation and this can naturally lead to a confidence that prompts you to unearth your strongest opinions, deepest secrets or controversial beliefs. Keep it light. If you're sharing something you wouldn't share in the boardroom, you're sharing too much.
BOW OUT GRACEFULLY
Whilst the last one standing scoops the title of ultimate party-goer, being the last one on the dancefloor isn't as cool as it might look. Don't overstay your welcome, fall asleep under the table or end the evening slumped in a corner alone. When you've had as much fun as you can handle, call a cab and head to bed.
You'll be thankful when you're not the highlight in the office recap of the nights events on Monday morning.
*TMI - Too Much Information (in case you were wondering).