It’s my first office Christmas party: All the questions you’re too afraid to ask



As December draws nearer and the stress of gift giving sets in, there’s one festive event that will either be upping the anxiety or softening the nerves: the work Christmas party.

As a 22-year-old whose party experiences have primarily involved in getting, shall we say, uncouth in a friend’s crowded flat share, I have a few queries around corporate celebration.

Is it okay to sink a bit too much booze? Do I have to snitch on naughty co-workers?

Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Is it okay to sink a bit too much booze? Do I have to snitch on naughty co-workers?

Like, how many drinks are too many? I probably can’t dress in the same outfit I’d wear to a bar, right? And do I need to show up to work the next day?

I figured it’s probably better to share my worries than to test the limits myself (if the Finnish Prime Minister can’t get away with partying hard, I probably can’t either), so I asked Human Resources consultant Nichola​ Gold of Spice HR my burning questions.

* Bad behaviour or sackable offence: Where is the line at the office Christmas Party?
* Alice Snedden’s guide to nailing your Christmas work party
* Have a bit of fun at your office Christmas party this year

Do I wear my work clothes or can I stand out and show more skin?

NICHOLA: This is a tricky one.

To be honest, this depends on the company you work for, and what their ‘normal work clothes’ are, if the company has a dress code policy that covers off what to wear for work functions and what the event is.

Probably not good to go over the top with the flesh if it’s a really conservative business that you work for, or if you’re going to Snow Planet, but an organisation that’s a bit more liberal, then it may be OK.

If you feel you’re going to be uncomfortable, or forever checking whether you’re having a wardrobe malfunction or ‘over sharing’, then it’s probably not a good choice.

Remember when you are attending a work function you are representing the business so always consider this when choosing your outfit.

Do I have to come to work the next day?

Unless you’ve booked annual leave, if it’s a work day, then absolutely yes!

What happens if I pash my colleague on the dance floor?

If it’s consensual, and you’re both available, then that’s probably OK, apart from the potential awkwardness the next day. Basically, as long as you can both be adults about it, then you should be good.

Caught swapping spit with Sam from Sales? You could be off the hook.

Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Caught swapping spit with Sam from Sales? You could be off the hook.

But if you’re worried about awkwardness, or the other person has a propensity for stalking or the other person has a partner, is married or engaged, or you’ve got a partner, are married or engaged, or you work closely together, and you know it’s just going to be weird then you may want to try and stay sober enough to resist.

Remember you need to work and collaborate with your all your colleagues the next day, so it may pay to also consider the awkwardness you may create for other people! Best idea – organise a date out of work hours to engage in pashing.

What happens if I don’t want to go at all?

Maybe think of it as a good networking event, and a way to get to know some of your colleagues better.

It can be awkward at first if you’re not used to small talk, but spending time socialising at events has been proven to help build trust and relationships – it can be really useful for next time you have to work closely together if you have built a bit of rapport.

The other aspect to this is that your company has put this event on as a thank you for all your work during the year. It can be seen as a little rude if you just don’t show.

Is it OK to get drunk?

Totally depends on the business, and what type of drunk you turn into.

But the blanket rule is it’s probably best to stay on the tipsy side of drunk.

Do I still need to behave myself at the after party?

Maybe less so, but it still depends on who’s there and will see (or judge) you, the potential awkwardness the next day, and the event itself.

Once again, remember you could still be considered as representing the business if a lot of colleagues are with you so that may play a part into the levels of behaviour required.

Try to refrain from belligerent drunkenness.

Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

Try to refrain from belligerent drunkenness.

Can I banter with colleagues who are in a much higher position than me?

Absolutely yes – as long as they have the right personality to cope with the banter and your banter is solid. I think this kind of depends more on them as a person than the role they’re in, and if it feels natural and comfortable, then go for it.

What if I see someone doing something illegal with drugs? Do I have to tell someone?

Partaking in illegal drugs at a work function is a big no no.

No matter what the work function is, be that a casual barbecue get together or out on the town party, once again remember you are all representing the company, and this kind of scenario can fall under serious misconduct with potential to have job ending consequences.

Whether your company has a zero tolerance drugs and alcohol policy, our advice would be to quietly let the HR Manager or business owner know, and they can make an informed decision and take it from there. If it is the business owner then we’re out.


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