Mindset shift - It’s actually work
Not to be a party pooper but … before you throw caution to the wind and let your hair down, remember your office party is actually work. And while many of the ‘rules’ of work are relaxed, treat your Christmas party as work and not as an opportunity to free pent up emotions about a certain work colleague, to get into office politics or act on ‘that’ crush. Free alcohol might loosen the tongue and free your inhibitions but tread carefully. Your primary goal is to have a great night with your colleagues while leaving with your dignity in tact. You don’t want to overthink it, but being self-aware and setting yourself the goal of having a good night and getting to know your colleagues better without any drama is really important.
Have a pitch
At the end of the day this is business and if you are serious about your career keep that fact very front of your mind. Treat the evening as an opportunity to learn about the people you work with in a fun and relaxed environment and to put your best foot forward in front of colleagues from all organisational levels. Have a few sentences put together about your role and what you do. Keep it light and prepare yourself to talk about non-work hobbies and interests. This is particularly important if you work in a large organization and don’t often get to meet people from other departments or more senior leads. It is a chance to set the stage for you to make some progressive career moves.
If you choose to drink, set a reasonable limit on your alcoholic beverages. Never drink on an empty stomach, so if there is no food being served on the night make sure that you eat beforehand. If you need a little bit of Dutch Courage before heading out, remind yourself that this is another day at work. If you wouldn’t drink before heading to work in the morning, why the need to do so now! While it’s pretty trendy to drink wine or a fancy cocktail, alcoholic combinations that you are not used to are risky. So tread carefully. Make a pact with yourself to drink water throughout the night. Plan to stop drinking at the night club, stay out of rounds or set a limit on the number of drinks you will have. Do whatever you need to do to ensure that you are not the person everyone will be talking about the next work day.
Dress for the job you want – not the one you have!!
Whether the dress code is formal and black tie, or more relaxed and you’re wearing Christmas jumpers, the key is that you dress appropriately. If you want to make a statement, do so with make-up, jewellery and accessories. Showing up and not feeling comfortable in what you are wearing will affect your confidence and make you feel self-conscious, so keep it classy.
If you are going to post pictures or share with your followers pictures of your night out by all means do, but keep it professional. Do NOT be the person who tells the world about the questionable behavior of a colleague! This might seem like fun at the time but the person on the receiving end is unlikely to feel the same way.
Be serious but have fun!
At the end of the day Christmas parties are a super way to bond with co-workers and make new connections across your organisation. Don’t shy away but equally don’t say or do something that brings with it ‘The FEAR’ of going back to work. Try and find a balance between the two and use it as another way of designing a career that you love. If you don’t do it, someone will do it for you and you may not like their version. So remember: don’t drink too much, stay professional but most importantly, have fun!