How to survive the office holiday party

We’ve entered the peak of the holiday party season and most companies are gathering to celebrate the end of a hardworking year. This is the time of year when your colleagues get hammered and make complete fools of themselves.

According to Helene Wasserman, an attorney for Littler, it’s not uncommon to get harassment claims around the holiday season. She blames it on the alcohol.

How to survive the office holiday party

“The best way to survive is to remember that you’re still at work and the rules still apply,” Wasserman says. “If you’re talking to your boss and a drink is in your hand, he’s still your boss.”

Any gathering that mixes free alcohol with people at all points on the organizational chart is inherently fraught with potential for career-limiting moves. So to help you to survive the fools from the office holiday party – and not become one yourself – I’ve compiled some tips to help you survive your office party, and still manage to keep your job.

Ask about the dress code ahead of time

You need to find out what the dress code is and stick to it. You don’t want people talking about what you wore the day after the holiday party. So whatever you wear, remember that it’s still a business event.

Eat something beforehand

How to survive the office holiday party: Eat beforehand

Although there might be appetizers, you should still eat before the party begins. If you don’t have enough in your stomach, you’ll get drunk quicker. Plus, stuffing your face with food while you’re mingling is a bit awkward.

Don’t even think about skipping the holiday party

You don’t have to stay for the full party, but you should at least show up for 30 minutes. Always assume company gatherings are “must attend” events. Being at the party shows that you’re committed to the company.

“People will expect you to be there,” says career coach Barbara Pachter. “It’s an opportunity for you to meet people, and the person you talk to may wind up being the person who interviews you for your next job in three months.”

Furthermore, you should never show up on time. You know who shows up on time? That one creepy lady who works in human resources who you never talk to. Even if the holiday party takes place at the office, Drew Magary at GQ advises you go home after work, then come back. If you can’t do that, just continue working until it looks like the majority of your colleagues have turned on their holiday mode.

Keep business out of it

In other words, don’t ask about that new position you want or for a raise. It’s tacky. Some business-related conversations will come up, but don’t come to the holiday party with an agenda. Also, try to avoid all gossiping about your coworkers.

Be sensitive to different religious affiliations

Don’t forget that your colleagues aren’t just celebrating Christmas, they’re celebrating other holidays too, such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Know your limit

How to survive the office holiday party: Know your limit

This is an important one to know so that you don’t become the office fool. You need to prepare yourself ahead of time by setting guidelines, whether that’s one or two drinks max. 

Pachter advises you order a drink you don’t like, so that you can nurse it throughout the night. It’s also good to have either have a ride or enough time for the alcohol to get out of your system before you head home after the holiday party. In the GTA alone, drunk driving charges are up 17% from last year – according to an article by the Toronto Sun.

Don’t be the last to leave

It might be a festive event, but don’t make a name for yourself as the company’s party animal. Wait until a few of your coworkers leave, then make your exit. However, some of your colleagues may want to go out after the holiday party ends, and if you’ve been controlling your alcohol intake, feel free to go and mingle with them.

However, a few drinks later, if someone suggests a third venue, don’t go. Why? By the time you make it to that third venue, the vibe has changed. It’s no longer the ‘happy hour’ crowd. It’s now the ‘let’s rage’ crowd. At this moment — as a working adult — you need to make a choice. The moment your colleagues see you in a compromising position, they will likely view you differently. Is that a risk you want to take? Because at this point, there is no turning back.

Make it to work the next day

How to survive the office holiday party: Make it to work the next day

This is even more crucial if you get drunk at the party. Everyone will know why you didn’t show up to work the next day — including your boss.

Brian Moylan at Gawker writes: “You have to go to work the next day. If you don’t, everyone will know why, and they will sit around and talk about your bad behaviour the night before twice as much. If you’re there, they have to do it behind your back, which will cut down on the office gossip by at least 50%. You’re already in trouble, don’t make it worse.”

Hopefully these tips can help you survive the office holiday party, both physically and career wise. If you have any tips that you’d like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below.