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The festive season is approaching which means the annual Christmas party or social at workplaces nationwide. This is a great opportunity to let your hair down and see your fellow-colleagues in a slightly different light. It’s also your last chance to see everyone before you break up for the holidays and a nice opportunity to see out the new year. What you don’t want is to do something that will make returning to work awkward come January. So below we list a few things not to do at the office party, though these can also apply to birthday parties and other gatherings.

1: Drinking Games

While it’s a good way to quickly get everyone in a more relaxed mood, not everyone reacts to alcohol the same way. Some can take lots, while others are on the floor after a drink or two. Drinks which are only ever consumed on special occasions or are bit more adventurous than you’re normally used to can result in the mixing of many spirits and bad consequences. The best case can be a hangover, while the worst could be being sick in front of everyone you work with. Remember that you do need to co-exist with these people for the foreseeable future, even if it the end of the year. Drinking games can also alienate those who don’t drink and they might leave early, leading to a feeling of not belonging; this isn’t the atmosphere any boss wishes to promote.

2: Proposition a Colleague

So you’ve had a crush on someone in the office all year and you believe the sentimental message of the season that it’s a time to be with the ones you love. This shouldn’t always be taken to heart, as it can lead to awkward brush-offs and rebuttals, especially if more than two people are involved. Being aggressively physical with someone you work with, or who works below you can be a form of harassment and have very negative consequences for yourself and your company. Again, it’s not the kind of atmosphere you would want to promote in the workplace and as part of your company’s wider image.

3: Talk Work

Everyone just wants to relax at an office social. All day is spent talking business so why bring it to the party as well? That would just make it over-time which no one is being paid for. Connect with your colleagues on a topic that isn’t usually discussed, but only as long as it’s not offensive or uncomfortable for the general audience; so nothing related to topics like sex, or touchy and controversial subjects like religion. The office party is a grand opportunity to really get to know people beyond the office-environment and context. It can be easy to drift into work conversations because you might not really know what your colleagues’ interests are to begin with; start out with general things like films or their plans for the holidays. It also casts a negative light on you socially, if all you can do is talk about work so don’t be “that person”.

4: Drive Home Drunk

This should be a general rule you abide by in any social situation but at Christmas, there are more driving incidents than at most other times of the year because so many more people are drinking socially and the weather conditions are worse. A boss or someone tasked with the responsibility, should plan ahead and make sure everyone is seen home OK, whether via a designated driver/s, or hiring a legitimate taxi-company in advance. Perhaps have a quick sit-down earlier in the day about drink driving limits in the area so everyone is well aware of them, or at least encourage everyone to look out for eachother.

5: Clothing and Fashion

Allow people the time to go home and change. People can show more personality in what they feel comfortable wearing, and will feel better if they can shower etc after a long day working. You may even keep one or two rooms free that afternoon so people who live far away can change if easier. Just make sure not to wear anything revealing to give the wrong impression for yourself; if you’re having your event on non-work premises, like a local bar or restaurant, that you’re representing the company to some extent still.

Finally, an extra tip for the HR representatives out there who are looking forward to letting their hair down: consider leaving early or not going at all if you feel like you may see something which will require a lot of paperwork the morning after. Out of sight, and out of mind. Happy Christmas!

Paul is writing on behalf of a firm of motoring solicitors in Manchester. He is currently in his first full-time job and is looking forward to his first official work Christmas party this year.