Monday, December 12, 2005

Avoid Christmas Party Perils

By Kate Southam

Don't be fooled into letting your guard down at the office holiday bash. Have a great time but be careful not to rewrite the well worn phrase "tis the season to be jolly" to read "jolly embarrassed", "jolly reprimanded" or "jolly unemployed". Follow these tips and avoid the perils of the office Christmas party.

Just because the annual company bash is out of hours or even out of the office doesn't mean the rules of corporate behavior don't apply.

Alcohol has a funny way of making us lose our inhibitions and do things we regret. Getting into a verbal spat, locking lips with a colleague in full view of everyone, "dangerous dancing" and telling a manager or even a co worker what you really think of him or her is not smart.

Your company is legally obliged to provide a safe workplace even when throwing a party out of the office. The last thing they want is an injury claim because a drunken dancer gave a colleague a black eye. The office Christmas party has also given rise to many a sexual harassment claim as well.

On the other hand, don't even think about skipping the annual office bash. It's considered very poor form not to show up. Even if you only stay an hour, you must say "hi" to the boss and mingle with colleagues.

Also, read the signs. If the party is on a weeknight and the food is mostly high-fat carbohydrates like pizza, bread and dips then you're expected to put in a productive day at the office the next day nursing nothing more than a mild hangover.

Even if the party is on a Friday night, don't use the fact that you can sleep all day Saturday to throw caution to the wind and drink to excess at the office bash.

Have fun, bond with colleagues but leave the party before any damage is done - to you!Remember, dancing = good, wild crazy dancing = bad; being outgoing = good; becoming floorshow = bad.

Do NOT go for a "few drinks" before the party. Eat something and drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages. Try to stay a drink or two behind everyone else.

Dress with caution. Plunging necklines, micro mini skirts, skin tight pants, outrageous or obscene tee shirts and other attention seeking wardrobe items might reveal more about you than anyone cares to know.

If you can't trust yourself not to get drunk, make a firm date with friends so you only spend enough time at the office party for two drinks.

If you feel yourself getting buzzed, avoid the boss, his executive assistant and other key managers. Circulate and talk to new people. Do not monopolize the boss, pitch an idea or ask for a pay rise.

Beware the "beer goggles". Remember the object of your new found desire after a few drinks and a bit of night lighting is the same person you did NOT find attractive for hundreds of office days under the full glare of the fluorescent light bulbs.

Resist the temptation to take a holiday or sick day after the party. It's good form to show up the next day.

Have fun and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!

Kate Southam
is the Editor of

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