The nine work Christmas party mistakes we all need to avoid.

Consider this a Public Service Announcement.

The work Christmas party season is upon us. A time of bounteous free booze, tiny duck pancakes and letting our hair down after another year of smashing KPIs out of the park and team playing. Right?

Well, sort of.

Those free drinks (scientifically proven to taste the best) become very expensive if you partake so enthusiastically that you jeopardise a year’s good work in a single night.

By now you’ve likely received the All-Staff email from HR, with the party details and the gentle reminder that this is a work event.

Let the games begin... (Image: Mad Men/AMC)

You probably gave the last bit a bored once-over before hitting DELETE, safe in the knowledge that they aren’t talking to you. They’re just doing that because they have to, and anyway, you’re going to keep yourself nice, right?

And then the party starts.

The boss is welcoming you and pointing you to the bar. There’s that vodka luge right in the middle of the room and the music is loud and suddenly that email from HR does apply to you.

But you’re not going to remember it.

The next thing you know there’s daylight and you feel your face reddening as you piece together fragments of memories.
So before that happens, here’s nine handy tips that could save your career.

Tip 1: The boss is definitely not as hammered as you think (or you are).

This is the single most important tip. Repeat it quietly to yourself hundreds of times before the party and hope that it makes its way through the haze when you need it most.

We repeat: your boss is NOT as hammered as they look. (Image: BBC)

Yes, sometimes your boss will drink a lot at the Christmas Party. But sometimes they’ll just act like that so it encourages everyone else to relax.

You really don’t want to come to work the day after the party needing your fingers crossed that was the former.

Tip 2: Dress for the job you want (to keep), not for the party afterwards.

This is an easy one. If the party is after work, the “after” part is very important.

You still have an entire day of work to get through first so make sure you dress as you would for any other day in the office.

And no matter where the party is being held, unless there’s a specific dress code on the invitation, assume that you’re dressing for the office, just with brighter lipstick. (Post continues after gallery.)


Tip 3: ‘Tis a far far better thing to be thought a bit boring than wildly inappropriate with your Secret Santa gift.

An easy rule here is to avoid the four D’s of Kris Kringle hilarity – no dildos, deodorants, diet shakes or depilatory creams.

Tip 4: You are not as quiet and the music is not as loud as you think.

Every conversation you have will be overheard. Guaranteed.

Tip 5: So you’re a great singer? Now is not the time to showcase these talents.

Nope. Not even if the boss starts playing the grand piano in the corner and you know all the words to that song from Cats.


Trust me on this.

Learn from Bridget Jones' mistake. (Image: Universal Studios)

Tip 6: When faced with the hell that is the boat trip party, drink half as much as you usually would.

Which is roughly a quarter of what you’d like to consume to get through the event.

There is something about getting on a boat for a function that makes people party like it’s their last day on Earth. But as that line is cast off the dock, remember that there is no getting off this boat until the party ends.


There is no escape. You cannot just slink off into the night if you drink too much.

Tip 7: Do not touch anyone on the dance floor with any part of your anatomy.


Watch: How not to accept a disappointing Secret Santa gift at the office party. (Post continues after video.)

Tip 8: Talk up the food chain, but keep it small.

Don’t ignore your boss, or their boss. They are your hosts. Make time to talk to them but not to browbeat them with innovative ideas for how to run the company a whole lot better.

Make small talk. The smaller the better.

Tip 9: Plan for your hangover and suck it up Princess.

Be in the office, showered and ready to look like you’re working by 9am. If they’ve said you can come in late, they mean 10am, not 1pm.

It may hurt, but calling in sick the day after the Christmas Party definitely gets noticed. And not in a good way. So get your Berocca, your Panadol and your toasted sandwich and get to your desk. Repeat as necessary until this nightmare day ends.

Prepare for your hangover. (Image: FOX)

And end it will.

But if you’ve followed these simple tips that countless others have valiantly road-tested for you, that ending can come without an appointment with HR being put into your diary and with your promotion prospects intact.

Carolyn Swindell is a novelist and freelance writer from Sydney. She used to work in high heels in politics, big corporations, universities and sport before becoming a full-time writer. She blogs about cocktails and 80s music at and about surviving the jingle hell at