1. Don’t go if you don’t want to. I’m serious. Check in with yourself. You’ve been around these people all-year-long. Do you really want to spend more time with them? Ask yourself how you’re feeling. If everything points to wishing you could just go home and put your feet up, then please put yourself first. You do not have to go to the office party. I repeat, you do not have to go!
2. Don’t over indulge. We all know what happens when we drink too much alcohol and it’s rarely pretty. You might be a happy drunk like me, who giggles a lot and then wants to lay down and go to sleep (never a good look at work by the way). Or you may turn from Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde and make a complete dog’s breakfast of things. Make a commitment to stop at one or two drinks. Better still, don’t have any alcohol at all. If people get pushy, tell them you’re allergic. Little white lies still come very in handy.
3. Stay away from the photocopier. We all know where that ends up. While hilariously funny in the moment, it will be regularly revisited – the story about the time when…by which time it will no longer be funny, just embarrassing. Don’t do it.
4. Stop work for the day. If you do decide to go, then for goodness sake enjoy it. Stop work for the day and attend. Then go home. Nothing is more miserable than knowing you have to go back to work later. That’s painful and against all good HR protocol. Never work for people who make a practice of this. It’s inhumane!
5. If you go, talk to new people. Painful for introverts I know, but seriously it’s a great way to get to know people you normally wouldn’t talk to at work. In my experience these conversations almost always positively surprise me.
6. Make sure you know who is paying the bill. I remember arriving at a new job just in time for the office Christmas bash at a seriously expensive restaurant. It was a great meal, until three courses later I suddenly thought, am I paying for this? Luckily, I wasn’t, but not all parties are free. A quiet word to the organiser can prevent mortal embarrassment and a maxed-out credit card.
7. Get a taxi, Uber, Zoomy or Ola home. Goes without saying doesn’t it?
8. Have above the line conversations. If you find yourself gossiping and criticising people you work with, take a deep breath and refocus on conversations you won’t regret later. Besides, below the line conversations leave you feeling yuck and you want to enjoy yourself, don’t you?
9. Take a practical gift. If you’re doing one of those secret Santa things, don’t for one-minute think you can get away with a shoddy poor-quality gift. People always work out who bought what. One of the best gifts I ever received was a Snapper card with a few bucks on it. And I still remember the kind considerate person behind it. Thanks Nick GP.
10. Be kind (always). There’s usually some poor introvert who wished they’d gone straight home but didn’t want to jeopardise their career prospects. If you’re not sure, look for the person standing uncomfortably alone in the corner. If you spot them, go commiserate with them. They’ll love you for it.
Kerene Strochnetter is the Managing Director of Mindful at Work Ltd. She is on a mission to make the M-words cool (mindfulness and meditation) in the workplace. Mindful at Work delivers ‘My Off Switch’ workplace programmes to businesses across New Zealand and Australia, to groups, leaders and individuals looking for peak performance, to build resilience, lift engagement and create a healthier workplace.
It’s all about changing the way you behave at work and positively influencing workplace culture.