The Office Christmas Party: a guide to still having a job come January

By Esme Banks Marr

fullsizerenderThere’s no two ways about it – December is well and truly here and Christmas is coming. The radio is already blasting out festive hits from every decade, homes across the country are being transformed into winter wonderlands and offices are following suit… Terribly offensive and depressing tinsel decorations are no doubt being draped over the nearest bannister, and the back of your manager’s swivel chair right at this very moment. And as talk of ‘Christmas jumper’ day rises to a crescendo (16th December by the way) the mince pies are being handed out and the long awaited work Christmas party looms… as do the potential repercussions.

To avoid the subsequent mishaps and staff shenanigans sometimes associated with office festivities, and to steer clear of offending people with tinsel and glitter, it’s best to address these things early on, for the wellbeing of the entire workforce… and for the preservation of decorum (and dignity!).

After, well, let’s face it – an utterly bizarre year – anything that could boost enthusiasm would provide welcome relief to burnt-out workforces. The office Christmas party is a great thing; a time-honoured tradition, essentially one big knees-up, usually made more enticing by the fact that someone else (usually your boss) is picking up the bill. Such shindigs are crucial for improving staff morale.

That being said, there are some things you should steer clear of at your work Christmas party if you want to avoid that grim walk of shame back to your desk in January!

Here are a few don’ts…

Drink too much

This sounds obvious, and it is, but this first ‘don’t’ ties into the rest of them! The subsequent tips might help shed some light as to why you might want to alternate water and wine…

Swear like a trooper

Office swearing has become less taboo, but this doesn’t mean you can leave all your manners at home after a few glasses of mulled wine and a mince pie. Your manager will be there, and dropping the ‘F bomb’ as many times as Leo playing Jordan Belfort will be remembered, but probably won’t be looked (or heard) upon lightly.

Dress inappropriately

It’s time to go glam, which is great – when else do you get a chance to go all out? Showing some side boob might be a bit much and a plunging neckline that gives J Lo a run for her money is definitely too much. This one is for you guys too, if it doesn’t say ‘Christmas jumper’ on the invite… probably don’t go there.

Tell [too many] politically incorrect jokes

You never know who you’re going to offend… so best not spend the evening impersonating, just to be safe (not to name any President-elects – ahem)… You don’t know what people’s views are and, whilst we are all entitled to our own, it’s best not to upset the people you spend 37+ hours a week with.

Bad mouth people

There will be a salubrious amount of political slander (after 2016, how could there not?) and opinions on Kanye West or Prince Harry’s new girlfriend will of course be thrown around. Views on your finance team, or even worse, you finance manager (they control your payroll…) is not OK; even if they did borrow your Nando’s loyalty card a few months back and still haven’t returned it.


This is a little ambiguous. Use your discretion, but a few things that would fall under this category are: getting kicked out of a bar, asking for a pay rise three G&Ts down, singing Whitney Houston ballads to your colleague, throwing your Christmas pudding across the table, etc. etc.

Bring your rowdy mate

If your invitation states ‘plus one’, don’t bring your mate who ended up in a police cell that time… or who punched your cousin over a football score last summer… This rule also includes any boisterous spouses.

Forget to go home

Don’t outstay your welcome – just leave when it’s time to leave, make the decision to go when the time is right, don’t make a pact to be the last one standing.  Nobody wants any hangers on!

Take surreptitious photos

… Photos of either yourself or your colleagues being drunk and or disorderly on social media isn’t great. Potential employers research prospective employees on social media, so something that might have been harmless fun might not look quite like that to someone else. Also, your clients don’t need to know the whole team is trashed by 5pm on the 23rd December.

So, think long and hard about your behaviour during the festive period, but remember to have some serious fun – you’ve worked your behind off all year, celebrate!

Magenta Associates