Surviving Your Work Christmas Party

by Dec 8, 2016

It’s that time of the year again – workplaces are getting ready for the holiday season, and what better way is there to celebrate than with a work Christmas party? While it’s all a lot of fun, navigating the professional minefield this presents can be exceedingly difficult. To help you out in your time of need, here are a few tips to help you survive your work Christmas party, so you can come out with your career intact!

Watch your liquor

Work Christmas parties may seem like an amazing opportunity to take advantage of the bar tab, but the reality is, it’s really not. Most of what could go wrong at a Christmas party is alcohol-related, so while you should most definitely have a good time, it’s probably a good idea to consciously put a cap on your alcohol consumption.

Don’t gossip

Your work Christmas party may be a great chance to let your hair down, but it’s definitely not the time to start bad-mouthing Barbara from Accounting. Seriously, regardless of how strongly you feel about one of your fellow co-workers, the work Christmas party is not the place to be talking about it. Really, you shouldn’t be gossiping about any of your co-workers at any work-related function – you never know who might overhear you, or who’s secretly a friend of that person. If you’ve got any major issues with someone you work with, talk to HR or your manager and discuss it with them.

Don’t complain about your job

It’s a time to celebrate, not commiserate! Everyone goes through tough times at work, and being surrounded by people who work alongside you and understand what you’re talking about may make you feel at ease, but you don’t want to bring down the vibe of the whole party by complaining.

Be polite

Being polite is a good idea regardless of what situation you’re in. When you’re chatting with someone, make sure to ask them about their interests and well-being rather than getting caught up with your own!

Try talking about non-work-related topics

Work will obviously be one of the main topics of conversation at any work event, but a Christmas party is a great opportunity to get to know your co-workers a little bit better. Take the time to find out more about the people you see day-in-day-out.


It’s that time again – another great opportunity to… (wait for it)… NETWORK! Yes I know, your work Christmas party is meant to give you a chance to simply hangout with your colleagues, but if you work in a larger organisation it also offers a great chance to strike up conversation with people higher up in the company. Now I know a lot of you may get stressed out at the thought of networking, but simply introducing yourself to someone and complimenting them on their work throughout the year can be just as cool, calm and casual as it sounds. It’s a social environment, rather than a purely professional one, so take advantage of the relaxed vibes and get mingling!

Don’t glue yourself to one person

Okay, work events can be a little awkward if you only know one or two people. However, that doesn’t mean you can stick to those few people like glue the entire night. Try getting to know other people within your company, and if everyone is super cliquey and hard to talk to, ask the people you do know if there’s anyone you should meet!

Try to avoid leaving early

It’s hard to really make a good impression if you turn up for an event only to leave an hour later. Sometimes you have other plans and you truly can’t stay for long, but if you have the option, try to stay for at least a couple of hours. That way you can make the rounds and show that you appreciate the work that’s been put into the party.

Stick to the dress code

Maybe you have to wear a uniform all of the time, or you’re just sick of wearing corporate gear. Either way, a work Christmas party isn’t really the best time to show off. If it’s a dress-up themed party, or there’s a particular colour scheme, stick to the dress code and have a little fun with it! Just be sure to keep it at least a bit professional, and avoid wearing anything too revealing.

Making friends is good, being a bit too friendly is, well… not so good.

You don’t want to be that guy (or girl) that everyone remembers for all the wrong reasons. A 2014 article by the Telegraph found that roughly 20% of readers had admitted to kissing a colleague at a work Christmas party (with 14% admitting to flirting with their boss). While a Christmas party may seem like a great opportunity to make a move, it really isn’t.

Work Christmas parties border that fine line between your work life and your social life, and dipping too far into one can be a bad idea. So have a good time, but make sure you stay a little more on the professional side of things to avoid any awkwardness once the party’s over.

So play it safe and stay polite, and you’re sure to make it through the season with your professionalism (and dignity!) still intact. Have fun!


Featured image courtesy of Pexels.

By Mia Casey

By Mia Casey


Mia is a Sydney-based copywriter and content creator, who ran the UTS Careers Blog for five years since its conception in 2016.
Her freelance work focuses on branding development and helping companies create a cohesive identity narrative tailored for each of their platforms.
She enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.