How to avoid Christmas party mishaps (apart from staying sober/at home)

by Dan Leach

DREADING the Christmas office party this year?  Worried about saying too much to the boss?  Fear no more!  We bring you five vital tips to negotiate the potential pitfalls and avoid that embarrassing first day back at work.

The Christmas office party has become a fixture of the social calendar these days.  Turn them down and you risk missing all the gossip or worse, offending your generous boss.  Follow these simple rules to ease the pain:

1.  Eat before you go out.

This is an obvious one – but not for the usual reason.  Sarah, 35, explains:  “We once had a big bash at a swanky hotel.  There were only nibbles at the party so come the early hours I was starving!  Room service had finished serving food so, slightly inebriated, I wandered down to the hotel kitchens in my dressing gown.  My brazenness was rewarded when I stumbled across a LARGE gateau.  Being woken up by a chef the following morning cradling the cake however is not a memory I wish to keep.”

2.  Don’t fall asleep at the table.

Picture the scene – a table of 30 journalists nearing the end of a long boozy meal.  One falls asleep at the table.  What do you think happened next?  Martin, 56, remembers quite clearly:  “Three-score of tipsy and mischievous journalists – he had no chance!  The poor lad was left with the bill of course.  Everyone sneaked off to catch their trains.  Quite cruel when you think about it, but funny as hell.  He can laugh about it now, taken him 20 years though.”

3.  The restaurant is not your playground.

James, 33, is not too embarrassed to admit that he had partaken in something rather harder than alcohol one year – cue dancing on the table in Fatty Arbuckle’s and then having to be driven home after with a persistent nose bleed. “It was actually not long after I started”, says James, “so it so it obviously doesn’t sound like a good idea. But returning back to work was not too embarrassing, after all, my boss was the one who sold it to me.”

4.  Plan ahead

Plenty of parties are held on weekdays when it is easier and sometimes cheaper to book the popular venues, so make sure you book the next day off work.  Phoning in sick or, even worse, turning up to work while drunk, should never be an option. 

Chris, 36, said:  “You feel obliged to kick back and have a good time, especially when it’s all paid for.  However the next day at work was horrific.  I spent the whole time simply concentrating on not throwing up.  Finally I lost the battle but felt too embarrassed to vomit in the toilets, so in my haze of nausea I left the office to look for somewhere – I only got as far as a side street behind some bins.  It was the height of ignominy.  I’m an accountant for God’s sake.”

5.  Have an escape plan

Perhaps the top tip is to organise a legitimate excuse to allow you to leave before you get too drunk or others do.  However it takes tactical ingenuity to pull this off without looking anti-social.  Getting home to watch X Factor will simply not wash.  Barbara, 42, says:  “I’m a manager at my firm so it’s wise for me to stay no later than 11pm to save getting pilloried about why so-and-so is earning more than me, etc.”  So I got my mum to phone me last year and pretend my dog had been in an accident.”

Then again, where’s the fun in that?  It’s Christmas folks – mine’s a large one!

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