How to survive the office Xmas party

Group of people celebrating Christmas around a table

Christmas parties can be a great chance to network
Image source: Monkey Business Images

Are you looking forward to this year’s staff Christmas party? Or does the thought of mixing alcohol with office politics leave you cold? Either way, we’re here to help with our guide to how to dress for your office bash which, whether you love it or loathe it, is an excellent opportunity to shine in front of the boss. 

Do I really need to go to my office Christmas party?

Office workers wearing Christmas hats holding glasses of champagne

You can’t have fun if you don’t turn up
Image source: 4 PM production

You have to go to your office Christmas party. No dodging, no shirking, if you’re not there you’re not a team player. And while every firm has its resident maverick, unless you’re supremely talented at what you do, you’ll pay a price for being a no-show. Remember, at least half the people at the party are about as keen to be there as you are; bear it with a smile and a bit of witty banter and who knows? You might even enjoy yourself.

You don’t have to stay to the bitter end. In fact it might be best if you’re not there to witness your boss drunkenly singing ‘My Way’. Do stay long enough to get the most out of the evening, but leave before things get messy. Perhaps set a time limit to your involvement in the festivities by pre-ordering your cab.

What do I wear to my office Christmas party?

Burgundy checked shirt from Samuel Windsor

Burgundy-coloured shirts and accessories are a great way to add a festive feel
Image source: Shirts from Samuel Windsor

Think of the annual Christmas Party as your opportunity to mingle with staff from other departments, including those who are higher up the managerial tree. Dress to impress, but don’t go overboard. If there’s a clearly defined theme like fancy dress or black tie, then go with it but otherwise, smart casual is your best option.

Wear an ensemble that’s centred around classic good looks: a smartly pressed pair of wool-rich trousers, a crisp cotton shirt, and a jacket – try warm, festive tweed. To add interest, a splash of colour in the form of bright socks, pocket square and tie is just the thing. Add black Oxfords or oxblood brogues and you’re ready to party.

What not to wear to an office Christmas party

Man wearing a garish reindeer Christmas jumper against a red backdrop

Gaudy isn’t the only way to look festive
Image source: Roman Samborskyi

Don’t wear a gaudy Christmas jumper to your works do. There’s always one wally in a super-loud Christmas jumper complete with flashing lights and dangling Santa beard. You might go down a storm with colleagues, but who wants to stand out as the office clown? Leave that role to someone else.

A Christmas jumper needn’t be crass. A subtle cashmere mix sweater in festive burgundy is just the ticket, and you can wear it throughout the remainder of the year as well. Take a quick look at our guide to stylish Christmas jumpers if you want to retain your dignity throughout the silly season.

How to enjoy the Christmas party without getting drunk

Tray of non-alcoholic drinks

Keep a clear head and make for the choice of non-alcoholic drinks
Image source: Andrew Angelov

To enjoy your office Christmas party without getting drunk, you could always join the growing numbers of workers who opt not to drink at all. While a libation or two undoubtedly loosens people up and gets them talking, too much of a good thing sometimes leads even the most level-headed of fellows to say or do the wrong thing. Remember – a forensic post mortem follows every office party; staying sober will help keep you out of it.

The staff Christmas do is an excellent opportunity to network, but don’t force it. Instead, wait for an opportunity to join in the conversation and if you do get a chance to talk to a boss – keep it short and don’t talk too much shop. You want to be remembered as poised, congenial and interesting, not as an office bore.

Is Christmas party romance a good idea?

Couple flirting over a bar

Keep your private life away from office gossip
Image source: Grusho Anna

Are you a fool? Christmas party smooching is an absolute no-no. So you have a soft spot for a fellow member of staff – great – use the office party to get to know them better but don’t take it too far. Just as presenting yourself in a positive light ensures your bosses remember you for the right reasons, the same applies to looking good in front of someone you like.

The party might be your chance to pick up a phone number, but make sure you confound the office gossips by leaving romance for a later date. And if someone brandishes the mistletoe, accept a peck on the cheek with good grace but step away if they want to take it further. Wrong time – wrong place.

How to deal with the morning after the Xmas party

Tweed jacket and waistcoat from Samuel Windsor

Always arrive bright and early the day after your office party
Image source: Tweed jacket and waistcoat from Samuel Windsor

A pre-ordered taxi means you’ll arrive home in good time, having made an excellent impression on the people who matter. Next morning, you’ll be the one sitting at your desk on time, looking smart and fielding calls from colleagues who’ve come down with ‘food poisoning’.

And remember, when people do come crawling into the office, nursing hangovers and lattes, avoid the temptation to gloat. Instead, earn even more brownie points by being sympathetic, and prepare to sit back and hear all about all the embarrassing things other people got up to.

We hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas for how to stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons this Christmas. For more advice about what to wear in any given scenario, check out our handy guide to men’s dress codes.

Posted in How To - Style.