10 Just don’t go
Don’t forget, you spend tens of hours every week hiding in the stationery cupboard and thinking about cutting your ears off with a pencil sharpener rather than spending another second listening to the inane chatter. Your first and last thought at least five days a week is about how you can break this cycle of misery and now you’re going out for midweek mixed drinks with the entire company? You have clearly lost your mind. Call in sick and play it safe.
9 You have to go
But if you don’t turn up, you won’t be considered a team player. While that would normally clear you of having to take on extra work or pretending to be concerned during crisis meetings, it will also have you shunned by office gossips. And there is no sweeter office gossip than office party gossip so, until you have the courage to just walk away, you should make an appearance.
8 Camera phones
Are they filming your heartfelt karaoke rendition of Adele’s Hello because it is a sincere, graceful and nuanced performance that speaks of the human condition? Or is it because of the tears, lipstick and pizza cheese smeared across your face and the fact that you are still in the restaurant and have not left for the karaoke bar yet? In the old days you could dispose of the embarrassing office party evidence easily enough (nobody keeps photocopies anyway) but in the age of camera phones, your actions will never be forgotten.
7 Avoid talking shop
Striking the balance between pretending to have a good time while minimising career damage is key to office party survival. Make an effort and leave work talk in the office. Feign interest in stories about people’s delinquent children, say nice things about their outfits and chuckle along at the analysis of the office tea-making rota (even if you know who never gets a round in). This is a party, after all, and for a few hours a year you can all get along. Besides, any conversation is better than a chat that turns to work matters.
6 Office impressions
Your mimicry of Maureen from Accounts may be pitch perfect in your mind, but don’t forget this is the same brain that told you underwear is an appropriate Secret Santa gift. Never trust your instincts. If you wouldn’t say it in the office at 10am on a Sunday, then keep your views to yourself at the party too.
Nobody remembers people who DON’T dance at the office party. Everybody else’s dancing will be remembered and it would need to be something very special to be remembered positively. Your inventive mash-up of the Gangnam and Lambada dances might be the toast of your mates, but don’t inflict it on people who the next day might have to listen to you explain sales figures and corporate takeovers.
Furtive looks at the water-cooler, chatty emails and a shared doughnut in the canteen are surely leading in one direction – humiliation and regret. Considering the struggles you have to just get through the working day, do you really think it is a good idea to try and sprinkle the added complication of romance to the office environment? Neither do we.
3 Secret Santa
If your workplace is of the present-buying type, don’t hide true feelings behind the anonymity of Secret Santa. Be boring and just get a gift voucher rather than a passive aggressive statement wrapped up with a bow on top.
2 Talking to the boss
The boss wants to party just as much as you do and a 2am retelling of how you clinched that account back in March isn’t as fascinating as you think. This is not the time to ask for a pay rise or demonstrate skills that would reflect your importance to the company. Being seen to order the food or arranging taxi transportation is only going to expose your ineffectual negotiation and time management. Say hello and leave them to scowl at other people.
1 Being the boss
If you are the boss, see tip number two (above) and multiply it by the number of people in your team. Put your hand deep into your pocket, make a big show of paying for things and then clear off. It will be a lot less awkward for everybody.