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5 Fast Tips for the Office Xmas Party

The annual office Christmas party season us is well and truly upon us! It can be anticipated with much excitement or stomach-churning dread. 

It's alternatively a chance to have some fun time-out with colleagues and co-workers.

Or it can be the last place you want to spend your free time - you might prefer to be with family and friends or not have to worry about the potent combination of co-workers, managers and alcohol.

However you feel about it - there's no doubt the annual office shinding can be a minefield that needs to be navigated so that you use the chance, if not to enhance your professional credibility, to at least ensure that you do no damage to your reputation.

Here are 5 Fast Tips to help navigate the Office Christmas/Holiday party:

1. Go - even if you're not fussed on the idea of a progressive dinner party, listen to your co-workers who (reluctantly) give into their urges to join in the the karaoke or don't fancy  finger food - if you possibly can - it's important to (at least) make an appearance. You don't even have to stay for the whole event - but turning up shows that you are part of the team.

2. Watch what you drink - and I don't mean count until you get to 15 glasses of wine! Rather, limit the amount of alcohol so that you can stay on your best behavior. There are plenty of other opportunities to go out with co-workers - without doing it in front of senior management.

(Many of whom also dread inebriated staff telling them what they have done throughout the year or alternatively how great they are. One very senior manager once told me he always knows it's time to leave a party when one of his team tells him they love him. Eeewww!)

3. Use the relaxed atmosphere of a party as an opportunity to say hello to people you don't always see on a daily basis. Acknowledge something they have done and say thank you. Ask them about their holiday plans. It's a great opportunity to get to know people a little better and deepen the relationships in your network.

On the other hand DO NOT use it as a chance to stalk senior management to advise them how to do their job or tell them how great you are. If you do have something you need to discuss with them - ask if it's okay to contact to set up a time.

4. Remember you are still on the clock - I once walked into a Christmas party and the first thing I was asked was, "How are this week's numbers?". I didn't even have a glass of bubbles in my hand! It pays to be prepared and be able (not to mention sober as per tip 2!) to be able to answer questions about work.

And you don't want to do anything at an office party that will make you cringe in the morning or that you need to erase from the memory of the person who has the power to promote you or who will be completing your performance review. I was interviewed about Christmas parties by Cosmopolitan Magazine a few years ago and they asked about the 'party pash' (it was Cosmo after all). My reply:-  "I don't think so!"

5. Send a thank you email to (or even better call) whoever has organized the party the next business day. Getting a work party together often involves navigating office politics, lots of work and very little recognition. Acknowledging the effort that goes into the event is the nice and the right thing to do.

And finally, (a bonus tip for Christmas ☺) Enjoy yourself- it is the holiday time of year and it's nice to get to know people in a relaxed atmosphere, have a few laughs and acknowledge what's been achieved during the year.

Happy Christmas!
- Karen