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11/24/2014 10:34:53 AM

Ho-Ho-How to survive the office Christmas party

At this time of year, most people are thinking more about their Christmas preparations and less about their career development. Like many other major life changes people don’t tend to think about resolutions until the festive season is over.

However, for those in the know Christmas is a really important time for your career - providing opportunities for both development and (dare we say it) destruction.

This week, Supertemps has some advice to ensure you have a brilliant time with your colleagues and may even lead to you climbing the next rung of the career ladder!
 

Ghosts of parties past

Consider the annual Christmas office party - the social highlight of any workplace calendar. Now think about the office parties of Christmases past. Do they evoke memories of forming friendships, with smiles all around? Or, do you still shudder over that inappropriate comment made after one too many?

Although the office party has traditionally been viewed as neutral territory when it comes to career progression, or regression, your conduct at office social events has the potential to make or break your aspirations. In a haze of merriment and mulled wine your boss might look more like a long-lost best friend but, keep in mind, tomorrow morning that’s exactly what they will be again - your boss.
 

Party planner

So, before you start polishing your dancing shoes, take a few moments to think about the upcoming office festivities and how to handle them.

If you’re in need of some inspiration here’s our list of DOs and DON'Ts for the Christmas party:

DO

Go. The Christmas party can be the source of much anxiety for some but it can be construed as rude not to attend, particularly if it’s being paid for by your employer. Come January, you don’t want to feel left out when your colleagues are discussing the finer points of an evening you weren’t a part of either.

Dress appropriately. Do some research and find out what the event demands of your wardrobe. If everyone else is dressed up to the nines and you turn up in jeans and a novelty jumper, you’ll all feel awkward! You can be glamorous or suave but be careful not to overdo it - or reveal too much. Don’t forget, it’s still a professional gathering so try to at least look the part.

Network! The Christmas party is the perfect environment to demonstrate your dazzling personality in a more relaxed setting. Make sure that you mingle with all the people that you’d like to know better, be it colleagues from a different department or the company’s new chief executive. Also, make an effort to meet new people, irrespective of how much they can develop your career. Cultivating a friendly and approachable personality will do wonders for your reputation as employers come to value soft skills more and more.

Eat, before you drink. Find out what sort of food will be served at the party. If you’ll only be eating canapés, it might be a good idea to eat before the party to avoid the alcohol going to your head. If you’re having a sit-down, three-course meal, then consider just having soft drinks until you’ve finished eating.

Lend a hand. If you see a colleague embarrassing themselves, as a result of one too many, intervene if you can. Without appearing confrontational, explain to them what they are doing and how it appears to other people. If they are beyond help, discreetly ring a cab. Handle the situation with grace. Not only will your colleague thank you in the morning, if your superiors spot this move it will enhance their opinion of you.
 

DON’T

Get too drunk. Under no circumstances allow yourself to drink to a point where you no longer have control over your actions. If you do you’ll only damage your professional reputation. Your behaviour at the party may well lead to judgements about your professionalism and work suitability. Even if your bosses insist everyone paint the town red... just don't. By all means, drink to enjoy yourself (after all, it is Christmas!) but judge the tone carefully.

Start a sales pitch. Yes, we’ve advised you to be professional but the office party isn’t an appropriate place to start pitching your talents at unsuspecting ‘victims’. Use the opportunity as a means of forming new working relationships - you can pitch them your great idea when you’re back in work.

Attend if you cannot behave appropriately. If the temptation to let your hair down in public is just too much or you can’t resist toppling over your ‘tipping point’ it might be a wise move, in work terms, to make your excuses. Whilst your absence will be noted at least you won’t wake up the next day wondering if you’ve still got a job!

Never forget, whilst it’s a party it is still work, but turn it to your advantage and you’re guaranteed to have a great time and forge some exciting links for your future career progression.

However you choose to celebrate the festive season with your work colleagues - have a wonderful time, be safe and have fun!

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