Surviving the end of year office party

Aside from the retail frenzy, pending holiday shutdown and slew of snowmen and reindeer decorations that would put Clark Griswold to shame, the end of the year heralds the much-anticipated office party.

While office parties are intended as social events rewarding hardworking employees, they remain strictly business – so here’s some advice for surviving the silly season without inflicting a regrettable reputation hangover.    


Make the effort to go

Unless you have a legitimate and immovable prior commitment don’t pass up the invitation to an office party. It’s a great event to begin building or strengthening work relationships and allows you to do so in a relaxed, informal environment. Take the time to mingle with people at the party who you may not see regularly, such as senior management and people from other departments and locations.


Pick the right outfit

An office party is still a business function so err on the conservative side. If it’s not appropriate for work it’s probably not appropriate for work parties either. Check whether the dress code is formal or casual to gauge what’s appropriate. Impressions count regardless of where you make them, so skip anything too revealing or showy - it’s not worth risking your professional image because of a poor outfit choice.


On time is a good time

Make the effort to arrive on time, especially if there is a meal involved as this shows respect to the organisers, ideally arriving within 15 minutes of the starting time. Pay attention also to the time you leave, don’t overstay your welcome or be the last person standing. Arriving 20 minutes before things wrap up just to make an appearance won’t cut it - errors in judgement about when you arrive and leave won’t go unnoticed.


Stick to the agenda

Office parties are a good opportunity to get to know your boss and colleagues on a personal level just remember they’re there to relax and socialise so don’t treat it as an opportunity to raise work issues or push your case for a promotion. Spending all night talking business or monopolising conversations and boasting about your achievements will also quickly (and rightly so) label you the office bore.


Mind your Ps & Qs

An office party is not an excuse to blow off steam or start gossiping about others - it’s still a company function, so professional conduct is expected. Try and keep conversations positive and steer clear of controversial, potentially offensive topics or inappropriate jokes. Use the opportunity to be gracious and acknowledge and thank co-workers and team members for their efforts during the year. Remember to also thank those responsible for planning and coordinating the party.


Go easy on the Christmas cheer

Be considerate of diversity and don’t assume that everyone celebrates the same holiday - avoid going overboard with the religious references, Merry Christmas wishes or the inclination to belt out a few carols. This also means going easy on the booze (alcohol is not the norm for everyone) and don’t drink excessively just because it’s an open bar. Moderation is key, you can always go hard after the party.


Keep it clean

Again, this is a work event, so avoid flirting or cracking onto a colleague, and keep your hands (and suggestive thoughts) to yourself. The office party is not the time to tarnish your reputation or end your career with the company because you did something inappropriate or worse still, illegal. When it comes to happy snaps check that you have everyone’s permission first before taking photographs at office parties, especially if you’re at someone’s home or at a party that includes partners or children. Leave the smutty, drunken shots for your friends and personal Snapchat account not for documenting the office party.  


Get home safely

Before attending the event, find out about office policies on providing car or cab services for employees to get home from the party. Otherwise nominate a designated driver to get everyone home safely or lock in an Uber if the company doesn’t provide rides home. 

Office parties are a great opportunity to celebrate the year and let your hair down a little and employers can spend big bucks to reward their employees, so enjoy the party, behaving appropriately doesn’t mean missing out on all the fun!


Posted by: Jaclyn Knight, on December 8, 2015
Categories: Articles