Are you looking forward to this year’s staff Christmas party? According to the Guardian newspaper, some 60% of us will attend the office knees up this year.
If the thought leaves you cold, our advice is to stop thinking of it as a yearly trial and instead treat it as a golden opportunity to shine in front of colleagues and more importantly – bosses.
Here’s how to survive and thrive at this year’s Christmas do.
If you’re not there, you’re not a team player. And while every firm has its resident maverick, unless you’re also supremely talented at what you do, don’t expect your rebelliousness to be rewarded. People who won’t toe the line are threat to your company’s power structure. Don’t let that person be you.
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 consider setting a time limit to your involvement in the festivities by preordering your cab.
What to wear
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. If there’s a clearly defined theme like fancy dress or black tie, then go with it but otherwise, smart casual is probably your best option.
Our advice is to go for the classic look. A smartly pressed pair of Chinos and a crisp shirt worn with brown brogues, for example, makes for an understated elegance that won’t go unnoticed.
For more advice about what to wear in any given scenario, checkout our handy guide to men’s dress codes.
What not to wear
A super-loud Christmas jumper complete with flashing lights and dangling Santa beard may go down a treat with colleagues, but who wants to stand out as the office clown? Leave that role to someone else.
Also avoid the temptation to overdress. Unless otherwise instructed, leave the tuxedo and bow tie at home. For some excellent personal styling cues, do check out Sarah Gilfillan’s website and blog, ‘Sartorialab’. A specialist men’s stylist, Sarah knows a classy outfit when she sees one, and you can even get a gift voucher for her styling services!
Mingle, but don’t binge
Always remember your goal is to use the staff do as an opportunity to network and forge new work connections. But don’t force it. Instead, wait for an opportunity to join in the conversation.
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 the office bore who monopolised the conversation.
The best way to make sure you stay in control of what you say and how you say it is, of course, to stay sober. If you do decide to drink, stick to one or two. Make sure you’re remembered as someone who knows how to behave!
Do you have a soft spot for a fellow member of staff? The office party is the ideal opportunity to get to know them better. But don’t take it too far. Just as presenting yourself in a positive light will ensure 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 the 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.
The morning after
Stick with the plan and you’ll arrive home in good time, having made an excellent impression. And who knows, you might have enjoyed yourself too. Best of all, come next morning, you’ll be the one sitting at your desk on time, 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!
Still in need of some inspiration? Here’s a fascinating documentary made by the BBC in 1969 – the office Christmas Party of yesteryear – some things never change!