The office Christmas party conjures up images of drunk colleagues, uncomfortable 'secret Santas' and business banter with the office bore. So is it any wonder that so many people start looking for a job in the New Year? And why does the line 'What I don't like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day' sound so familiar to you?
The annual office party can boost your career but, it can also break it. Here are some dos and don'ts of office Christmas party etiquette aimed to keep your job, reputation and dignity in one piece.
Do attend. Your office party is not an optional event. Even if you despise the thought of spending a whole evening with the people you work with every day, it's a good idea to make an appearance. It shows that you are part of the team.
Don't dress inappropriately. And do dress professionally. The venue will determine the dress code so make sure you know what it is. "Women are advised to stay away from slinky dresses, low-plunging necklines, short-short skirts or tight-fitting trousers", according to workplace etiquette expert Pamela Holland. And, men "should refrain from unbuttoning more than two buttons on their shirts and wearing overly fitted shirts that show off their muscles".
Do some schmoozing. This is a good time to talk to people you wouldn't normally come across and, of course, the boss. This could help you in the long term in terms of forging alliances, helping to get things done or just raising your profile. But...
... Don't talk shop. Do you want to be seen as the office bore? The office party gives you the chance to get to know people as people not just 'Julie from accounts'.
Do drink in moderation. Excessive drinking is the number one cause of office party 'incidents'. Remember, it is a marathon not a sprint and it is likely that you will have a long evening ahead of you. But, by the time you realise this you may have already consumed enough alcohol to sink a battleship and not quite be with it. Stick to your limit, drink slowly or alternate between alcohol and water and, if it's too late for that, then switch to soft drinks and mince pies. And resist the temptation to indulge in tequila shots or flaming drambuie or you may end up losing more than your inhibitions!
Don't make a move on a colleague. After a few hours and a few beers even Barbara from credit control can look like a goddess. But, before you make a bee-line for the person you've had your eye on all year, do yourself a favour, stay put and think, 'Is this a good idea?' 'Probably not', is the likely answer.
Do watch your language. Remember the reason why you are at the Christmas party in the first place is because you have a job. Avoid saying things you wouldn't say on a normal office day. And, for ****'s sake, don't swear!
Don't leave too soon. Tequila slammers with the girls from HR may be more appealing than your department's party. But, unless you have made a holy show of yourself, stay for at least a couple of hours even if it is the most boring party ever. After all, it's your boss that you need to impress when it comes to getting a promotion.
Above all, enjoy the party. Strive to be remembered for the right reasons and not for your lustful antics or David Brent dancing. And, in the words of the great man himself from "The Office", when asked how he would like to be remembered, he replied: "Simply, as, the man who put a smile on the face of all who he met."
Find more articles on career related topics in The Corner Offce, the career blog from CareerBuilder.co.uk.