There is a strange buzz around the office today. Your colleagues seem to have reverted to a part time basis and are now chatting rowdily in their usual cliques. The girls are handing out the chocolate and someone has a funny hat on. It’s 4pm and the girl on reception is trying to organise the taxi’s.
The table is booked, the cheap plonk uncorked, the drinking boots are on and the laces tied. It’s time for the staff do.
Perhaps it is a slap up meal, a fun day out or it may even involve some dancing. Whatever the flavor there is always something quite over the top about quite how excited people get about what usually ends up as a boozy jaunt down the pub.
Be warned, however, as sometimes it can get quite wild. In those cases get ready to obtain some over the top stories, world class gossip and enough ammunition to keep winding up your colleagues for months.
15 top tips on dealing with a staff party, from those that have survived
- Understand the Etiquette
Some office parties are like expensive golf clubs with jackets at dinner, others can be more like a stag do’s. They can sway from a quiet chat down the pub to watching Dave from Marketing dancing to Wham with his tie round his forehead. At some events there is barely even a mention of alcohol.
It’s critical to figure out the etiquette at these events. Are they big drinkers? Are you expected to input some witty comments? You might be unlucky and all they do is talk about work. Understand what is expected and watch what the majority do.
- Watch the drink
There is a temptation, especially if you are Scottish, to just to open your gullet and slurp ever drop of free alcohol going. Please don’t do this.
Sleeping face down on top of your dinner dessert doesn’t really say senior management. It may all get a bit crazy later on but you do not want to be the first casualty. Manage your drink to make sure you are not out of step with everyone else.
- Engage in conversation but not about work
Chat to your colleagues. You might find that they are not as dull as you thought with a drink in them. Just don’t mention work. You are off duty now and no-one really willingly takes their work home with them. Don’t bring it with you for them.
- Don’t think you are coping off
You won’t. There probably should be a whole other article about how you conduct an affair at work but understand that this is not the time or the place. You may have an eye for the new hot guy from sales but everyone else is watching and someone will spot it.
Get caught and it means 12 months of sniggering until someone is stupid enough to do it next year.
- Watch out for the dirty old man
There always seems to be a dirty old man from a bygone age that still thinks that a staff gathering is a suitable time to cop a feel. The “wandering hands” are a terror of all female staff and inevitably some poor soul has to sit next to him at the Christmas party. In some offices the girls draw lots.
It really should be a tradition that is eradicated in the modern world. Especially dangerous if the wandering hands belong to someone senior.
- Be a guardian
If you are not a drinker then be a guardian. It can be an odd experience being around drunk people, especially if they are your boss. Special brownie points get awarded to the person who gets everyone in a taxi at the end of the night.
- Don’t be the comedy moment
Someone will end up getting thrown out of the club, slapped by a random or just plain arrested. Yes, you are letting your hair down but try not to take it to the extreme point where you end up being the main talk of conversation when everyone returns to work. Avoid any headline grabbing antics.
- Tell a story
I love a good anecdote. You will hear some great stories from the old folks about crazy stuff that once happened. It’s always a possibility that something genuinely funny happened to you at some stage of your life and there is no harm telling the story.
Don’t worry if it is embarrassing up to a point. Humility is a good thing, humiliation a bad thing.
- Don’t give away the big secret
So you have been saving up all your money and now you are ready for your sex change. Announcing this at the Christmas Party is not a good thing. No-one really likes a drama.
Letting drop that Sheena from payroll is actually having an affair with Geoff from human resources is equally as bad. Everyone knew already but they were all smart enough to keep their mouths shut.
- Talk to someone you have never met before
That bloke you always stand behind in the queue for lunch. Now is the time to say hello.
- Don’t try to suck up to management
You may be good at brown nosing at work but don’t try it here. It’s very obvious in a social setting and some of your more drunken colleagues may resort to violence.
- Be on your best behavior, up to a point
At some staff events there is a point where it’s all bets off. Usually when the CEO get’s up and starts ordering the tequila. It can be quite entertaining doing an all-nighter with someone 30 years older than you are. We are all kids at heart.
Understand that it rarely happens and that up until that point you have to be on your best behavior.
- Watch out for the split
If it has been a good night then the staff group will dissipate in to a whole series of sub groups. Some are going clubbing, others know this bar that has a late license, the rest making a dash for a taxi.
Notice the split happening and join the group that best suits what you want to do. Don’t get left in the pub with the guy who is going through a divorce and now has to fight to see his kids.
- What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas
It never happened. No, I am telling you it never happened.
Don’t be the one to let on. The sacred bond of staff silence should hold till the end of time, especially if someone got murdered.
- Don’t think it continues when you get back to the office
You might have witnessed your departmental head standing on a stage in a nightclub with his top off singing “Don’t stop me now” in authentic Freddie Mercury style but that doesn’t make him your buddy when you get back to the office.
Whatever rules were relaxed to enable the staff night out to function will be reapplied when you return to work. You might now get a knowing nod when you pass him in the corridor but don’t go walking in to his office, try to sit of the end of his desk and call him Dave.
- Enjoy yourself
- Talk to people
- Move around, don’t just sit in your clique
- Watch what type of behavior is acceptable
- Talk to the senior people early while you are still sober
- Try in any way to engage in amorous activities
- Be the one necking the drink
- Duck out too early
- Drop any big secrets
- Fall down a grave
The staff night out can be a treacherous place for the innocent or criminally self destructive individual. Follow the basic rules of understanding the etiquette, not drinking too much and not trying to get romantically involved with anyone and you can’t go far wrong.
For those staff nights that pass the point of no return in to full blown company legend then you can let go but you may have to hold on to your hat. It’s going to be a wild ride.