A guide to surviving the office Christmas party

A few tips on avoiding career destruction at this year’s night of enforced bonhomie

The Office Christmas Party, loved and loathed in equal measure. But I don’t want any part in this night of enforced bonhomie and merry-making with that shower of cretins, says you. Whether it’s Google splashing out a rumoured €300,000 on theirs last year with a Ferris wheel and ice rink or lukewarm white wine and curly sandwiches in your local watering hole, the same basic rules and tips apply. Here are some strategies to help you come out the other end.

Show up

Show your face, even if the thought of spending a second longer with colleagues you detest fills you with dread. Leave your coat on, do a lap, grab a cocktail sausage and say hi to the boss if you really want to power through it. Attending the party shows you are a “team player” or at least adds credence to the lie on your CV that says you are. If your party is held midweek, it is imperative to turn up the next day as nobody will believe you if you call in sick. Rocking up two hours late the next day like The Wreck of Hesperus and brandishing a breakfast roll will not endear you to your boss either, so don’t overdo it.


Even if food is being provided or you’re going for a four-course meal, eat before you go as you will probably end up being delayed as restaurants are busy and your dining companions don’t make up their mind quickly enough and you end up skulling the wine in frustration.

Your pre-party snack does not need to be elaborate. Just make sure it contains carbohydrate, protein and fat. The more fat the better. If you’re short on time, a cheese sandwich or a banana will do fine. A cheese and banana sandwich however is not advised. If you find yourself scraping the mould off some ancient Calvita labelled “BARRY’S CHEESE, DON’T TOUCH!!!!” in the fridge at work, perhaps find a McDonald’s instead. Lining your stomach doesn’t give you carte blanche to hit the bar like Oliver Reed but every little helps.


Christmas spirits

Free bars at office parties are coming back into fashion but overdoing it on the booze will be your undoing. You might decide this is the perfect time to try a festive-looking mixture of crème de menthe and Red Aftershock but now is not the time, unless you want to be reacquainted with the cheese and banana sandwich you made yourself earlier. As for drinking, the usual caveats apply and are cliches for a reason; don’t mix the grape with the grain, beer before wine is fine and whiskey is indeed, the divil. If you’re not drinking at the party, keep an eye on colleagues who are worse for wear and you can blackmail them in January when you want any drudge tasks done, as payback.

In vino veritas

In wine there is truth and there is nothing like the office party and alcohol to loosen tongues. You might decide now is the time to have it out once and for all with Ciarán who puts fish in the microwave everyday and steals your paper clips but minor disagreements can quickly snowball into physical violence. When you’re in the District Court a few weeks later staring forlornly at your charge sheet and wondering if you’re eligible for JobBridge; you might decide live and let live is the best policy.

Office etiquette

Office parties are still technically a work function so treat it like you’re still on the clock. Navigating office politics with a few drinks on board can be like playing Operation while wearing a pair of mittens. If you’re feeling miffed at being passed over for promotion AGAIN or not getting a bonus, the office party is not the time to air your grievance for all and sundry to hear. Nobody wants to hear your version of the Ted Crilly Golden Cleric speech where you decimate your colleagues; “And now we move on to liars . . .”

Start a conga line with your colleagues in a misguided attempt at team building or order taxis for everyone at the end of the night and be the office legend instead.

Talking shop

While work might be all you have in common with the people you sit with day in day out, nobody wants to be stuck with the office bore. Feel free to hold court at the bar while you give your hot takes on the finer points of the Haddington Road agreement or projections for Q3. If you’re very senior you probably won’t even notice your colleagues eyes glaze over but believe me, they’re just humouring you. If not, you have just found a new friend to be equally boring with.

A handy tactic to avoid getting cornered by bores, is to carry two drinks at all times so you can make a swift exit on the pretence of having to bring someone back their drink.

Social media

Unless you’re in one of “those” workplaces that lets you sit around on bean bags and gives you an hour off every week to work on your “idea cloud”, perhaps leave the selfie stick at home. Don’t feel the need to live Tweet, Snapchat, Instagram, Periscope the minutiae of your party. The financial controller might tell you his wife doesn’t understand him and your line manager might split their trousers while head banging to Thunderstruck but the world doesn’t need to know. Stop scrambling for the Wi-Fi code and enjoy the party offline or IRL (in real life)as the youths say. Posting content to any social media site even if your page is private can be viewed as a breach of trust or damaging to the company.

And finally . . .

Enjoy the night, heed the advice and you won’t have to hand your notice in.