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modern ms manners: holiday party etiquette

As the year draws to a close, people everywhere wrap things up with final celebrations. Office juniors scramble to try to organise a suitable party for their bosses, whilst New Years Eve offers a further chance to use up leftover ham and indulge with a few more toddies as we count in the New Year. Whilst all in good fun, this time of year can also be synonymous with overindulgence and even a few poorly considered choices that might leave you with more than a hangover.

All of a sudden that outfit no longer seems ironic, and you end up sharing too much information with Judy from sales. Or you might even feel so festive as to share your deep feelings with Carl from accounts. Whatever the situation you find yourself in this party season, I have prepared a handy checklist on appropriate behaviour.

Blame it on the alcohol

It is a no-brainer that celebrations this time of year are often accompanied by drinking, perhaps a little too much. Everyone knows the health tips associated with drinking including trying to balance alcoholic drinks with water, not drinking on an empty stomach etc. These are all good measures to adopt anytime when drinking.

Depending on the nature of your workplace, it might also be a good idea to consider whether it is appropriate to drink at your work party in the first place. Whilst there is no harm in sharing in a few casual drinks, it is important to remember that when you are at a work function, you are technically still at work.  Therefore, unless you would be comfortable matching your boss drink for drink at work, you should probably abstain from doing so at your Christmas party. (If on the other hand you know that would be okay, please let me know where you work!)

Bust a move

I love dancing. I am probably not very good at it, but the statement “dance like no one is watching” is definitely something I like to abide by. The challenge is then presented as to how you can dance like no one is watching at your Christmas party, when in fact everyone is watching. I have since observed that the tension tends to be around who is the first to break out the dancing, with the more enthusiastic onlookers bopping close by as they wait for the appropriate number of people to fill the floor before joining.

Hitch offers his own advice on dancing here. I personally think it is all a manner of keeping things in balance. If you are not sure how you look when you dance, put some music on and dance around in front of the mirror. If you offend yourself at all or feel like the person in the mirror is trying to hump you, then you might want to rein it in a bit. Completing any of these classic moves is probably going to cause less of a stir. It is also never a good idea to dirty dance with anyone from work. Even when you think it might be a really good idea. Especially when you think it might be a really good idea.

Raise your glass

It is common for speeches to be given at Christmas parties, more often than not by partners or employers offering sentiment and thanks for the concluding year. If you are required to give a speech at all, hold off on drinking alcohol until afterwards. Also try and make a few notes beforehand so that you know all the important points are covered.

It is useful to remember that this is never a good time to confess any feelings (romantic or otherwise) about your boss, share your thoughts about politics or to make some dig at a colleague. Save all those thoughts for Facebook  your heart-shaped journal under the pillow at home.  A simple ‘thank you for a great year’ will suffice if you cannot think of anything else.

Secret Santa

Your office may participate in Secret Santa, where guests draw names out of a hat and buy a small gift for that person. I personally think this is a really cute idea; however I also know this can just as equally fill others with dread. Don’t be the scrooge of the office and avoid Secret Santa because you didn’t have time to find a $5 gift. Also, reconsider any gifts that might be controversial or offensive (Santa does not give them so you shouldn’t either).

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that you will have to see your colleagues on the following Monday. By being conscious of that fact, you should still be able enjoy yourself and share in the best of the party season without dealing with any negative consequences.

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