It’s a tradition as timeless as the winter solstice, as sacred as the immaculate conception, as solemn as the eight nights of Hanukah, and as uplifting as Kwanzaa—we’re talking of course of the holiday work party. Just as many citizens across the country make their final preparations for the holiday season, the thoughts of countless professionals this time of year turn to drunk coworkers and embarrassing office party stories.
There’s no shortage of articles out there that cover office party rules or highlight the absolute worst office party stories, but in reality whether you’re worried about what to wear to your office Christmas party or need pointers on office party etiquette, the advice could not be more simple or straightforward: don’t get wasted beyond belief, don’t say offensive things, don’t fight your coworkers, don’t take your clothes off, and don’t try to “hook up” with anyone.
Most embarrassing office party stories involve alcohol. In fact, probably 99% of the worst office party stories revolve around having too much to drink. So why do companies still have open bars at their holiday parties? Because parties are supposed to be fun, and drinking can be fun (in moderation, of course).
You know what’s not fun, though? Shame. And lawsuits.
Be careful how much you imbibe at your company get together and know your limits. Puking all over the dancefloor is really hard to live down. If you plan on milking that open bar for all it’s worth, do the whole world a favor and get a designated driver. You also need to stay hydrated. Drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage you consume.
It’s not uncommon for people to feel awkward or uncomfortable during holiday events, whether they’re at family celebrations or work parties. Unfortunately, this social pressure makes certain individuals a bit chattier than they may normally be, which can lead to some embarrassing office party stories. Add alcohol to the mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
If you have a tendency to run off at the mouth when at social gatherings or after a few drinks, try your best to avoid offending people or sharing too much information. An office holiday party is supposed to be fun, so don’t spoil the mood by spouting off about your political views, attitude toward religion, disgusting bathroom habits, gross medical conditions, or racist/sexist/homophobic tendencies.
Here’s a great rule to follow: if it’s not something you would share with your grandmother, you probably shouldn’t talk about it with the other guests at your office party.
Your office mates are almost like family—you spend nearly as much time with them as your real family (sometimes more)—so it’s understandable that disagreements will happen. However, it’s important not to let that tension carry over to (or explode right in the middle of) your holiday work party.
It doesn’t matter how many times Jake from sales blows off his expense reports and makes more work for you. It also doesn’t make a difference how many drinks you’ve had (see section #1)—you don’t need to start airing grievances in the middle of your company’s party. That’s what Festivus is for.
Even if you begin squabbling with your officemates, don’t let things escalate to physical violence. If you’re considering fighting people, you’ve obviously already had too much to drink to trust your own judgment.
The temperature of the human body naturally rises a couple degrees after eating. Consuming alcoholic beverages makes you feel warmer (it doesn’t actually warm you up, though). Experiencing a bit of nervousness in a social situation may make you sweat. Physical exertion from dancing will definitely cause you to perspire.
Should any of this happen to you during your office’s holiday party, resist the temptation to take your clothes off. It might be difficult—especially if you’ve had too much to drink (see section #1 again)—but you have to remember that there are devices called smartphones that contain cameras and have the ability to upload pictures to social media within seconds.
If you begin to feel the urge to remove articles of clothing, don’t. It’s a sign that you need to dial it back a bit. Get a glass of water and a breath of fresh air. Above all, remember that nothing will ruin your holiday season faster than having to register as a sex offender because you got arrested for indecent exposure.
Even though it’s been a problem forever (literally), sexual harassment is all over the news right now. Keep this in mind at your holiday work party. In fact, let’s make it one of the top office party rules: don’t hit on or sexually harass your coworkers.
Whether they mean to or not, some companies inadvertently encourage these types of shenanigans among staff by barring significant others from attending the holiday work party. If this is how your company operates, moderate your drinking (see section #1 yet again) and keep your smartphone handy (see section #4).
It doesn’t matter if you’re an intern or the boss, the office party is not the time to confess your feelings to your office crush or act on those feelings with anyone.
It goes without saying that the holidays can be a very stressful time. You may want to blow off some steam and let your hair down, but your company’s office holiday party is neither the time nor the place to get wild. Don’t ruin your reputation or blow your chances at a promotion by making a fool of yourself and starring in your own embarrassing office party story.
If something does go down at your work party, just know that iHire will always be here to help you find another job.