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Can the Christmas office party ruin your reputation?

The holiday season is fast approaching and with it the office party!  So this week I wanted to share a word to the wise.  Be very careful that as you slip into party mode, that you do not allow your professional reputation to slip out the door.  While the office party is a time to mingle and have fun with your co-workers, be careful not to have too much fun, because no matter how long the night may seem, tomorrow will eventually come.

Here are some tips to ensure that when you return to work, you can do so with your head held high.

1. Don’t let your significant other attend the Christmas party alone.  Why not?  Three reasons: Firstly, the office Christmas party is notorious for breeding promiscuity and infidelity.  With a steady flow and consumption of free alcohol, inhibitions are lowered, judgments become impaired, and people become bold and adventurous.  According to a private investigation firm, workplace affairs usually take root at the office Christmas party or at some other office social event.  In fact, in a survey conducted by Men’s Health Magazine, 44 percent of the men surveyed admitted that they had an affair with a sexy co-worker during the Christmas party.  In a similar survey conducted by Trojan Condoms, 49 percent of the respondents surveyed (males and females) admitted that they would hook up or have sex at the office Christmas party if the opportunity presented itself.  Reason two.  If your significant other has already crossed the line, the office party can reveal the workplace affair.  Observe how your significant other interacts with his/her colleagues.  If your partner is hooking up with someone at work their body language and behavior will give them away.  Is he/she avoiding anyone?  Listen for the gossip and pay special attention to the person who keeps glancing in your direction.  Introduce yourself to as many people as possible, you may be surprised to learn that Alex is indeed a woman and not a man as your significant other led you to believe.  Reason three.  Obviously to make your presence known and keep predators away.

2. Watch your alcohol intake, especially in light of the above, but also because too much alcohol separates your tongue from your brain, and sends common sense on a mini vacation causing you to say and do things that you will regret. Things like getting up close and personal with your subordinates. So much so, that they lose all respect for you and you find that you can no longer manage them. All because you crossed the line at the Christmas party and got too familiar. Things like cursing out your boss, getting into fights, becoming sick and throwing up, passing out on the table, and falling down drunk to the point where one of your colleagues has to take your keys, put you in your vehicle and drive you home should all be avoided.

3. Dress appropriately.  Ladies do not, I repeat – do not – wear the shortest, tightest or sexiest thing in your closet!  This is a visual that your male colleagues will never forget.  You will become the topic of discussion in the ‘boy’s club’ or worse, the center of a wager to see who “gets to hit it first”.  Remember, you should be striving to advance your career, so don’t derail it by dressing like a tramp.

4. Don’t be the life of the party.  Some people love to be the center of attention and they look for any opportunity to claim center stage, including at the office party.  Be careful of the avenues that you use to draw attention to yourself.  So do yourself a favor – no flirting with your co-workers, relinquish that karaoke microphone – especially if you can’t sing.  Don’t teach your friends how to dougie, and definitely save the “bumping and grinding”, for the club.

5. Choose your guest wisely.  You know what they say, “if you want to know a man tell me who his friends are”.  So the real question is will your guest help to advance your career, or will he/she cause it to blow up in your face?  Ensure that your guest is aware of the proper etiquette and is prepared to follow the rules.

5. Beware of photographs.  Technology has gone to a new level; everyone and his uncle has a camera phone and knows how to upload the photos to the internet instantly.  Beware that you are not caught in any compromising positions with a hidden camera.  If taking group photos I suggest that you take them at the beginning of the night, and make sure that you don’t have a drink or cigar in your hands.

“But I thought a party is all about fun?”  It is, but remember it’s the office party, not a family get-together.  If you want to survive the Christmas party and not have to call in sick because you are too embarrassed to return to work, you’ve got to play by the rules.

Dress like a professional, act like a professional, and party like a professional.


Stacia Williams offers keynotes, workshops and personal coaching on a wide range of: Personal branding, image management, customer service, leadership, business etiquette and international protocol topics.  You can contact Stacia Williams at 325-5992 or e-mail, or visit

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