Winning the Work Christmas Party – How to Play (& Behave) in All the Reindeer Games
It’s the most wonderful time of the year (again)! A time where tinsel is decked around office desks, ugly Christmas sweater contests bring out the most competitive, Secret Santa gifts are exchanged and the time-honoured tradition of the work Christmas party is just around the corner, ready to bring out the best and worst of the office gang.
By nature, company Christmas parties are supposed to be fun and are almost the only time of year when everyone at the office gathers in one venue not to work, but to relax, have a good time and let (relatively) loose, just for one night.
However, this one night also has the potential to positively and negatively impact career-progression, peer reputation and personal dignity for weeks, months or even years ahead. Whether you are an avid fan of the office holiday party, or someone who dreads interacting with colleagues you spend the year deliberately avoiding – it’s a day that should be prepared for and thoughtfully considered. So, to prevent spending the next 12 months laughing off jokes (that you stopped laughing along with a while ago), or missing out on the big plans the company has for the business, here’s some advice on how to have yourself a merry time whilst also strongly re-affirming your position on the “good list”.
Be there (bells optional)
It’s important to remember that the work Christmas party is still very much a business event, and that’s how you should approach it. Any party invitation issued by your employer will be coated with the expectation for you to attend, whether it’s explicitly stated on the festive e-invite or not. So, if the end-of-year work party is something you dread, think of it like any other business obligation. This one just comes wrapped in team building activities, reindeer antlers and Michael Bublé’s Christmas album played on repeat.
The work Christmas party, whilst providing ample opportunity to be entertained by your colleagues’ not-so-wise decisions, is also an excellent opportunity for your company to reiterate and deliver key company messages, recognition awards, and forecasting plans for the year ahead – something you will want to be in the-know of come the new year, new budgets and new job roles.
The work Christmas party is a great opportunity to converse with people in other areas of the company that you usually wouldn’t have a chance to. A party gives you a professionally acceptable platform to walk up and introduce yourself to leaders within the company. Maybe this will simply result in them actually remembering your name as you walk past them (every day!) in the hall, or if you’re lucky, it could also lead to one of your ideas being heard or considered over another’s, an opportunity to work on an inaugural project you’ve always wanted to be a part of or even a promotion. Just make sure you’re gaining the right type of attention by being clever and engaging, not spilling your glass of red down the CEO’s fancy new shirt.
Leave your suitcase at the door
Whilst we’ve said the work Christmas party is technically a business event, it’s not the time to assess your team’s latest proposal. You are all there for the same reason – to relax and let your hair down for one day. So leave your briefcase at the door, don your Christmas-popper crown and head straight for the free banquet. Remember though, no matter how chummy you get with your boss, this is definitely not the time to ask for a pay rise or promotion – keep this to office hours.
The next day – be prepared and show up
Finally, whatever you do, do not “call in sick” the next day. Instead, make your morning arrival as pain-free as possible. Before you leave your desk for the big day/night, organise everything you need ready for the next day, make sure your “to-do list” isn’t too ambitious, and set your alarm clock for the next morning. When you do come in the next day, try and be as positive as possible and avoid complaining about every symptom of your hangover – most likely everyone is all too familiar. A hot tip – stock your desk with hydrating liquids (read: water), Berroca, painkillers and a cheeky mince pie ready at your keyboard waiting to help power you through the morning!