How to Have a Happy Christmas Party

Christmas is fast approaching and it is not called the ‘silly season’ for nothing. The giddy combination of end of year exhaustion, feelings of needing to ‘let your hair down’, alcohol and a need to relax can (but doesn’t have to) result in one of two things – a fantastic night out, or a combination of fear, loathing and regret. Phyllis Diller once joked that the thing she hated most about the Christmas party was looking for a job the next day. Don’t be like Phyllis.

Here is a fun fact though – alcohol consumption affects the frontal lobe of the brain first, which is the part of the brain that helps us assess risk and make good decisions. So even two drinks can impair this part of the brain.

Based on my own experience, observation and extensive research, I have come up with a list of do’s and don’ts to ensure you have a happy Christmas party.


Don’t drink too much alcohol. This should be obvious, but as the employer is usually paying for drinks, some approach this like an ‘all you can eat’ buffet. Pace yourself, and drink plenty of water between drinks.

Assuming you ignore this first piece of advice, don’t ignore those who tell you that you have had too much to drink and offer to put you in a taxi or Uber home.

Assuming you get in a taxi, don’t get the driver to go around the block and come back to the party – nothing good will ever come of this! This happened to a friend of mine, who was HR Director at a firm, and she called the staff member’s mother to say her young daughter was on the way home. Then went home herself, unaware that the staff member had gone back. After three hours, her mother called the police!

Don’t take it as an opportunity to bring up grievances or concerns about things that have happened during the course of the year. No one likes a drunk grudge holder. Your employer and especially the HR Manager don’t want to deal with this. It’s their down time too. See point 1.


Don’t call out jokes or interrupt when the boss is making a speech thanking everyone for their work during the year. In fact, do not speak while the boss is making this speech regardless of how boring it is. It is highly likely that the boss has attended the compulsory training ahead of the Christmas party and is sober and will recall the person who repeatedly interrupted.

Don’t post photos on social media of yourself or others in compromising positions. Or at all. Remember, you are still ‘at work’ at the Christmas party, and nothing is. private on social media.

Related – don’t contribute to your own or someone else’s marriage breakdown by being photographed kissing under the mistletoe – even in jest.

Don’t take your clothes off – no, no, no. Again, no.

Don’t be a bystander if you see someone being harassed or in an uncomfortable situation.


If you have said you’re attending then show up – it’s really annoying to cater based on numbers and then not have people come along.

EAT – alcohol on an empty stomach is dangerous. Please refer to the first paragraph under ‘Don’t’ above’.

Please dress appropriately – you are still ‘at work’ even though it’s a party. If it is a theme party, think very carefully about how you want to be remembered the next day, when deciding on your costume. Bridget Jones dressed as a playboy bunny, for example is probably not a good choice for a ‘come dressed as your favourite movie character’ theme. Or Channing Tatum from Magic Mike.

Help colleagues who may appear to have imbibed a bit too much – look after your mates.

Try and meet or talk to people you may not know well – it is a good opportunity to meet other people in the organisation you may not know.

If you have previously had a bad experience with alcohol, assign yourself a ‘buddy’ ahead of time to keep an eye on you and tell you when it is time to go.

Finally – say thank you. Christmas parties take a lot of organizing, which most participants don’t see. Acknowledge the hard work of the organisers either on the night or in a nice note the next day.

Most importantly – have a great time! There is a lot to celebrate.