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How to avoid a messy Christmas

Mon 12 Dec 2011
FYI, this story is more than a year old

So this is Christmas and what have we done, another year over, a new one just begun.

Ah, Christmas is in the air and that always makes me want to sing. That’s probably the first thing you should not do if you want to avoid embarrassing yourself and your colleagues at this year’s Christmas party. 

We all know that once you add a drop of Christmas cheer, most of us forget John Lennon’s pleas for peace and go for things a little... bawdier. And bawdy and business are rarely a good mix, even at the office Christmas Party. Perhaps especially at the Christmas party.

Most of us, having survived our teenage years, know there are certain rules when it comes to the company Christmas party, but that doesn’t mean we always remember them. So for those eyeing the eggnog and pretending it won’t go straight to their head, as well as those partaking for the first time, how about a gentle reminder:

Moderation is the key

Someone far wiser than I said ‘all things in moderation’. Of course they probably weren’t in front of the punch bowl or reaching for their third brandy-laced Christmas mince pie at the time.  Never mind that you can drink the boys under the table or hold the record for the most pavlova consumed in under three minutes – the office do is not the place to show off your skills.  You may not remember anything tomorrow, but trust me there will be several somebodies who will, and invariably at least one of them will have had their iPhone out. It is not a good look for either an employee or a boss to be violently ill (or violently idiotic) in front of everyone. If you’re feeling tiddly, switch to lemonade and be confident you’ll wake up the next day without a hangover and with your job (and dignity) intact.

Don’t drink and:

- emailAlcohol gives us confidence we don’t usually have. Mixing that confidence with email is never a good idea. The new girl in marketing may well be cute, but that will be little consolation to either of you if you declare your undying love to her in an eggnog-fuelled haze. And mass emails are even more out of bounds: recall never works. Step away from the keyboard.

- Facebook/TweetThat instagram pic you are about to post on all your social networking sites might be hilarious at the time, but it won’t be in a week when Great Aunt Myrtle – or the CEO – checks their Facebook and sees you in all your drunken (and who knows what else) glory.  Remember, once it hits the internet, it’s there forever.

- ambush the bossHaving a drink with the boss is one thing – suddenly believing you are BFFs is another. Now is not the time to tell your boss what you really think of the new uniform or why your job requires an iPad. If you have a legitimate concern or idea, keep it until the appropriate time. The Christmas party is never, never, never, EVER the appropriate time.

- driveReally I shouldn’t have to say this but I will.   Had a drink? Step away from the keys. Get a taxi, call a friend, take a bus. Just do NOT drive. Of all the mistakes you can make at a Christmas party, this is the one that can be fatal, so if I may paraphrase Nike: Just. Don’t. Do. It.


- mistletoeA few drinks, a few plates of hot ham and buttery potatoes and suddenly we are all in love with the world. Don’t go there. Don’t even joke about going there. At best you risk facing months of embarrassment, at worst you could find yourself facing a harassment charge.

- trying to change the (corporate) worldRemember Jerry McGuire and his manifesto? Remember how everyone applauded ... as he left the office with his career packed in a box and the goldfish resting on top?  Unless you have some contacts in the All Black camp that you’ve kept safely under lock and key, do not print out that list of suggestions to improve the company.

- promisesPromises inspired by Christmas cheer, liquid or otherwise, have a nasty way of biting you come New Year. So do not make rash promises – iPads for everyone, VPN access for all 4,000 employees by January 1, a three day working week – that will at best lose you respect and at worst cost you dearly when the cheer has worn off.

The annual Christmas party is an opportunity for teams to celebrate the end of a year (good or bad) and relax together for a few hours. It should strengthen your team, not weaken it.  So go easy on the drinks, heavy on the laughter and have a good time.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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