The Office Christmas Party


‘Tis the season to be jolly and for many this means joining the annual tradition known as; The Office Christmas Party.  Love it or hate it – there is an etiquette that one should always observe to successful navigates this minefield.  To begin with though, lets follow an example of how not to approach the Office Christmas Party.


The Crime:

It is fair to say James had attacked the Office Christmas Party with some gusto.  As a recent graduate in his first job with an up and coming PR agency he had possibly adapted the wrong mindset.  In fact, maybe he had shown no mindset whatsoever given he had decided to arrive dressed as Elvis.  As he said to colleagues as they gathered at the exclusive hotel bar in London – “He was going to go for it tonight” and in truth he would not disappoint on that score.


It’s hard to pinpoint the moment James crossed the line.  Yes, it all started fine with a couple of light ales and some witty banter while stood at the bar, even indulging and sharing a few shots with colleagues to “get the party started” (while boisterous) is allowed.  Helping himself to the entire tray of canapés from the waitress was possibly a gastronomic mistake – as others would later testify– or maybe it was just an early cry for help that went unanswered.  Dabbling in an illegal pick-me-up during a bathroom break is a no-no….but setting off the fire extinguisher while in the bathroom  and soaking John from the customer support team while he sat on the toilet is possibly a greater crime.  Okay, we all make mistakes but James appears to have taken a running jump at the line.


The inappropriate dancing at the disco will be a hit on YouTube for many years to come and will make someone a lot of money (albeit not James).  Trying to kiss the wife of the Finance Director – but in reality, completely missing and actually assaulting her husband with mistletoe is bad.  Trying to demonstrate to the admin team his coconut trick without a coconut was a health and safety breach.  And when confronted by a senior executive demanding to know who he was, he really shouldn’t have slapped the backside of David in IT and with a wink said he was “just this guy’s sex slave for the evening.”  For the record – David is now a staunch supporter of the #MeToo campaign.


James’ grand exit of rushing from the room to throw-up in the nearest plant display before mumbling something about ‘kebab time’ was no doubt a blessing in disguise for all concerned – it was after all only 7.00pm at this stage and that allowed time for the other party goers to try and enjoy their evening and blank out the images of James’ Pink Panther boxer shorts being flung at the barman who had refused to serve him.  How he had removed them is still a mystery – but it does back the theory the hand is quicker than the eye.


Probably also worth mention everyone learned that evening there is a right way and a wrong way to drink a Flaming Sambuca when stood next to someone wearing a fake fur coat….and James demonstrated the wrong way, which was unfortunate given the fire extinguisher had gone missing.


What Should Happen at the Office Christmas Party:

For those in doubt, or capable of sharing similar experiences to that of James – let me clarify – James is not the example to follow.


James should probably have taken time to read the e-mail sent by his HR Manager reminding everyone that in effect the Office Christmas Party is an extension to the workplace.  The email also highlighted how the company has robust policies relating to equal opportunities, discrimination, bullying and harassment, as well as drug and alcohol misuse.  In the event of an incident – it would be handled the same way as if it happened in working hours.


More importantly for James a few simple pointers could have been useful:


  • Eat and drink in moderation
  • Dress appropriately for the event
  • Be social, mingle and chat with those in different teams to yourself
  • Pay attention to the time you arrive and leave
  • Thank those who arranged the party
  • Give prior consideration to how you travel home (especially if drinking)
  • Have fun within reason – it is a party!


I know what you are thinking….does James have to collect his P45 or is it just mailed to him and his desk quietly cleared to save everyone’s embarrassment?


The Judgement for James:

Many an HR Manager when confronted with this issue would normally sit at their desk sobbing at how they failed during the recruitment process to spot the ‘accident-waiting-to-happen’ that is James, and how much extra work this incident has now created.  But…it is Christmas and a time for miracles.


James admitted to himself that, yes, his behaviour had been below his usually high standards and he had possibly let himself down.  But, James’ colleagues (who – goodness knows why – had all decided to wear fancy dress) just saw a young man who was a little wobbly on his feet – nothing more / nothing less.  They thought he had left to go to the toilet and when he didn’t return assumed he had made a gracious exit from proceedings….they weren’t to know that James has in fact gone walkabouts to the other side of the hotel as he tried to find a toilet and had joined someone else’s Christmas party…..


The result was James’ HR Manager thought the young man had simply been jovial.  The insurance company who held their Christmas party at the same hotel will not make a repeat booking for next year and are still conducting a thorough witch-hunt to establish which young hooligan needs to be maimed and fired by HR.  And in the meantime – James looks forward to next year’s party.


Merry Christmas from The Recruitment Lab – and enjoy your Office Christmas Party


Names have been changed to protect the innocent (and the guilty) and no animals were harmed during this incident.  


About the Author:

Simon Royston is the founder and Managing Director of The Recruitment Lab (A recruitment agency based in Aldershot that offers employment services across Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and beyond).  Simon lives in Guildford and has worked in Recruitment for over a decade.  He has a degree and a masters in psychology as well as a diploma in Human Resource Management.  If you would like to know more about anything written in this blog or would simply like to express your own thoughts and opinions do not hesitate to contact Simon through The Recruitment Lab website.