How to avoid Christmas party pitfalls

Jingle and mingle without turning the ho ho ho into oh no!

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but that can spell big trouble when it comes to workplace festivities.

“People have said and done all sorts of regrettable things that have impacted their career by forgetting the Christmas party is actually work time,” warns Emily Haworth, Employsure senior employment adviser.

“The bottom line is, no matter how much fun you’re having, you’re still officially at work. So, the rule of thumb should be – if you wouldn’t do it normally in the office or around your boss, don’t do it at all.

“At the very least, your reputation is at stake. Inappropriate conduct will affect your credibility in your current workplace — and, with social media, possibly your future workplace.”

Follow these tips to keep your work Christmas party from going off the rails.

Keep to one or two alcoholic drinks

What happens at the office Christmas party definitely does not stay at the office Christmas party, and many reputations have been ruined after festive high jinks following too much alcohol.

Don’t be too tempted by the free bar. Add soda water to your wine and sip slowly.

Make sure you eat well, have plenty of water between drinks and don’t get behind the wheel if you do imbibe.

“The Christmas party is supposed to reward staff for their hard work. Don’t kill the fun – it’s an enjoyable celebration, and if bad behaviour occurs, it only spoils the party for everyone,” Emily says.

christmas party

Keep your hands to yourself

Dirty dancing with the boss on a crowded dance floor or making a pass at the CEO’s spouse is also not acceptable behaviour.

Sometimes liquid courage can get the better of us so if you’re drinking, be extra careful.

It’s these types of situations that can lead to sexual harassment claims.

Don’t gossip (or grizzle)

This is a time to celebrate, not to gossip, complain about your boss or gripe about work issues.

Yes, relax and enjoy yourself but your behaviour still matters.

And you’ll have to face up to all the same people, if not the next day then very soon afterwards, so keep it nice.

Don’t dress inappropriately

Ripped jeans, low cut tops and tiny mini-skirts won’t win you brownie points at the work party.

It’s still a business function, so dress accordingly. Check in with your boss or a colleague if you’re not sure.

christmas party

Stay off social media

Resist the impulse to throw your arms around your manager to get a social media selfie or to post photos of your colleagues lining up shots.

At best, it’s going to be embarrassing the next day, and at worst, might cause long-term damage – to friendships and your career!

Play it safe and leave your phone in your bag.

And for employers …

“If the Christmas party is organised and paid for by the employer, the obligations generally remain the same as though it was in the workplace,” says Emily.

“So, if an employee is injured at the Christmas party or injured on their way home from the function, the employer could be faced with a workers’ compensation claim.

“Ensure the service of alcohol is responsible and employees have plenty access to water and food. You might also consider an early cut-off time for the service of alcohol.

“Organising transport home is also a highly effective way to minimise the risks particularly if someone gets too intoxicated; send them home safely straight away!”

Written by Liz McGrath.