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The Office Christmas Party – An Oxymoron at its Best!

It’s that time of year again and the office Christmas party is around the corner! Excitement spreads across the office as we forget our work woes and look forward to a good old ‘knees up’ with our co-workers…but in all the excitement, many forget that whilst it is called a Christmas party it can never be truly considered one when you are dining and drinking with management.

No, rather than plan to get wild on the dance floor and drink yourself silly, you should take a more prudent approach to the ‘party’. The key is to enjoy yourself -  to an extent!

Here are some useful office Christmas party etiquette rules to abide by:

Turn up on time

You may be known as the one who always arrives ‘fashionably late’ to a party, but when it comes to an office party you should show respect and arrive on time. We know it's awkward being the first person to arrive, but you need to remember that your managers are still watching you, so punctuality should be high on your agenda.

Quick tip: Arrange to arrive at the party with co-workers so you are not the first one to arrive yet you are still on time.

Plan your journey home

If you plan to drink alcohol, you must arrange your transport home in advance; don’t expect others to arrange this for you or to give you a lift without prior notice. You aren't partying with mates, you are socialising with co-workers, there's a difference.

Quick tip: Pre-book a taxi or arrange for a friend to pick you up at a set time; this will ensure you leave at a respectable hour and don’t get too drunk.

Dress to impress (the boss)

Yes, it’s a party, but it is definitely not the time or the place to show off too much skin. Both men and women should adopt the smart casual look, with men wearing dark pants and a smart shirt and women wearing pants or a long dress that does not overly accentuate their figure. You should ideally dress to the standard of the party venue, but always bear in mind that you do not want to attract the wrong sort of attention. Showing the twins off can be detrimental for your career on many levels!

Quick tip: It is better to be slightly over dressed than under dressed, but the key here is to actually be dressed! No crop tops, low cut cleavage enhancing tops or miniskirts please!

Topics of conversation

Whilst it is a party and you are out of work hours, you should bear in mind that PC standards still remain. This means that you must avoid conversations that relate to any of the following topics: politics, religion, sex, dirty jokes, women, gambling, gossip.

Quick tip: Be sensitive towards others and respect their privacy; it’s ok to ask how your co-worker’s family is, but prying further may be deemed as invasive. Use the weather or sport as a neutral conversation starter. And never ever crack an offensive joke - the more people you offend the harder it is to rebuild your reputation post party!

Eating and drinking

It might be free but that does not mean you have to go overboard. Try to pace yourself if you expect it to be a long night by having 1 soft drink or glass of water for every alcoholic drink. Also, try not to over eat, the last thing you want is to feel sick, or worse be sick, in front of your colleagues. You may also be considered a bit of a cheapskate; wolfing down as much free booze and chipolatas as possible.

Quick tip: Don’t mix your alcoholic drinks and avoid eating foods you are not familiar with.


Whist it is important that you socialize at the party; don’t overdo it. If you have feelings towards a colleague, the office Christmas party is neither the time nor the place to address it. Never make a move on a co-worker and especially not your boss if you want to keep your job! Don't be the one who ends up kissing several co-workers and needs reminding of whom they actually snogged the next day. Kisses (on the cheek) under mistletoe are fine - just don't over-do it.

Quick tip: Strike up conversations with those who you don’t know so well, the party is a great time to get to know people better. If you find yourself in a conversation with your manager or the CEO, be sure to keep it PC.

Meet and greet

A friendly hello and handshake (or a high five if you’re that way inclined!) is more than enough at an office party. Kisses on the cheeks or hugs may be crossing the boundaries with some people, even if you have known your co-workers for years. Sexual harassment laws are stricter than ever before so make sure you don’t find yourself on the rough end of a law suit. Just because you are stood beside someone while having a conversation, there is no need to rest your arm on their shoulder.

Quick tip: Be friendly but avoid being ‘touchy-feely’ with your co-workers.

Dance off!

If you think you may be expected to get up and have a dance, then be prepared. Refusing a dance from someone is often thought of as being very antisocial and even rude, so if you have two left feet, get yourself some dancing advice from your friends. Master the two-step at the very least.

Quick tip: Never force a colleague to dance with you, they may be shy or simply hate dancing. Embarrassing them by pulling their arms and dragging them to the dance floor is a serious party faux pas.

So, now that you have been slightly educated on the do's and don'ts of the office Christmas party, you can look forward to having a good time and enjoying yourself! One last thing: if your office does a 'secret Santa' do not buy an embarrassing gift (I think we all know where i'm going with this one) - it may be in bad taste if that person decides to complain.




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