Q. I like to keep my work and home life quite separate but my firm is throwing a Christmas party and I am feeling under pressure to attend. How can I avoid it?
A. Some people are not natural party animals and can think of nothing worse than spending extra time with their colleagues, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to deal with it for one night as not attending may mark you out as being reluctant to be a team player and damage your career. A staff party is one way for a company to show appreciation for their employees’ hard work over the year and to give them an opportunity to mingle outside of work and therefore build rapport. If you’re a manager, not going along can also send a bad message to your team – i.e. ‘I don’t like you enough to spend time with you’. Even if your company expects you to contribute financially to the event, and in this age of austerity, some will, it may be frowned upon if you chose not to attend.
So, once you’ve come to terms with the fact that you should go along, here’s my guide to surviving your work’s Christmas do.
- Don’t get drunk. Even the quietest among us can say dreadful things with a tongue loosened by alcohol so keep the drinking to a minimum.
- If you have to buy a secret Santa gift play it reasonably safe – edible undies may *seem* like a good idea, but the recipient may not see the funny side.
- Try not to only talk about work. This is not the occasion to suggest to your boss that you’re due for a pay rise, or tell your team about a piece of work you want completed by Monday. It is meant to be fun.
- Dress appropriately. This is easy if your party is at lunch time as you are likely to be in work clothes but if your firm throws a lavish evening do try to remember that you are going to have to look the other guests in the eye in the office the next day.
- Use it as an opportunity to network. You may not get many opportunities to meet some people at your company – particularly if it’s a big firm – so make yourself known to the movers and shakers, without chewing their ear off about your job.
- If you snog someone in the stationery cupboard, someone WILL find out and it’ll be the talk of the office until the next shin-dig.
- Ditto photocopying your bottom.
- If your partner is invited to attend, try to make them feel at ease by introducing them to people instead of leaving them to fend for themselves while you have a laugh with your office mates.
- Do your best to actually enjoy it – you might surprise yourself.