By Miss Pollyanna, 1st December 2022

18 Christmas Party Don’ts!

Unless you want to get Fired...

Unless you want to get Fired…

Christmas parties. OMG, I’ve been to a few. And I’ve done some downright stupid things at them too. But you could get away with that back at the turn of the century. Gawd, no, I’m not that ancient. I mean around the year 2000 – that turn of the century. When Jarvis Cocker was swooning at us to all meet up and the year after Prince seemed to have officially done the last of his partying.

And as fever pitch reaches offices, warehouses, stores, medical institutions, call centres, school staff rooms and all the other branches of academia, farms, factories, publishing, entrepreneurs in their mansions, constructions sites and everywhere else in-between all over this fair land, it might be time to give your behaviour at your up-and-coming ‘work do’ as much attention to detail as you would your party frock. For the following ideas definitely don’t rock and will probably not get you hired:

1: Photocopying bodily parts
It’s not funny and it’s not original. End of. Yet, how many are those who get too tanked up and then run upstairs to the photocopier en masse, in twos (quaffing all the way with vino in hand), or even in private, thinking they have suddenly latched onto THE most original drunken tomfoolery since the beginning of time? It’s just sad. Don’t. Even. Go. There. You are guaranteed to leave at least three copies of your privates scrunched up in – pardon me – balls. Because you are so drunk that you can no longer count.


2: Karaoke
Unless you have the voice of Susan Boyle, just no. No! Not because I am a killjoy. Far from it. I have indulged in Abba’s Waterloo and yelled it (mostly in tune) to my former bosses more times than I care to remember. But… and it’s a BIG but… just hopefully not as big as the butt in point 1… Social Media. Oh yeah. That not so old chestnut. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot with that one, didn’t we? On the one hand, we could revel in the annual karaoke not so many moons ago, and if we did a spectacularly bad job – which’ll be most of us – declare that the fact it happened at all was merely the figment of our drunken colleagues’ imaginations. But now, what with our joined at the hip relationships with our mobile phones, our rendition of Rihanna’s ‘S&M’ will be splashed across YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram quicker than we can round off the song with our final announcement of, ‘but chains and whips excite me…’

3: Hotplate arm wrestling
I’m no expert on this most recently invented of social sports myself, but I have witnessed a few matches. (For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, it is exactly as it sounds. A couple of guys will literally arm wrestle with elbows on ‘hot plates’ to see who can tough it out the longest!) And needless to say they always end in tears. If you are a cocksure director whose impression of strength and endurance has been led a little too far astray by too many pints, I am talking precisely to you. It’s no way to win over the admiration of the women in the office, whose loyalties will be 100% behind the unsuspecting geek with invisible but Captain America style biceps and one dogged determination…

4: Imaginary pole dancing on the table
Well, it would hardly be a Christmas party without somebody claiming either the bar top or the restaurant table for a stomp about in their slightly higher than kitten heels. Although don’t be fooled: it’s not only the ladies who think this is their territory for the mock pole dance. And once again, it always ends in tears. Rivers of them. One teeter and you’re arse over elbow, lassoing full beer glasses and the oldies from accounts’ figgy puddings smothered in custard with you… before toppling into the lap of the least fanciable male in the building… who in turn has transformed the two of you into a domino of super strength. Crash, bang, wallop: you and your new found friend take down the entire entourage of the table. So my golden rule is: seated at the table, standing on the dance floor.

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5: Footsie under the table
Unless you are NEVER going to see the recipient of your foot ever again, don’t get anything unnecessary started. Harmless flirty fun it may seem now. But little do you realise that David/Sarah/Greg or Amber (heck, maybe all four) have secretly had a soft spot for you for years… and now you have dug yourself a bit of a hole. And should you decide to forgo my advice – well, just be sure about whose leg and whose lap you are really putting your foot on. For looks can be deceiving above the table top.

disco ball

6: The ‘armchair’ rock
Although we’d rather not watch your drunken-uncle-in-white-patent-loafers style groove on the dance floor to Robbie Williams at the climax of the evening, we’d almost prefer it to the chair dance. And again, yes, as sexist as it may seem, I am addressing you, dear male directors. Just save it for Christmas Eve with your kiddies. For it has no place at the work’s Christmas meal dining table. Ever. We can do it, should we choose, since we are the soldiers. But the ‘chief’ getting his boogie on over the prawn cocktail? Nah, it just looks pants.

7: Mistletoe kissing
Is clearly always best avoided. In one of the offices I used to work in, us ladies would strategically plan our entrees and departures… telephoning down to our lovely Agony Aunt on reception to make sure the coast was clear in the hallway. For those pesky directors – let’s face it, it’s always the directors – would insist upon sprucing everybody into the ‘Christmas party spirit’ way before it was socially acceptable to put up the tree by adorning the reception door with the most gigantic sprig of mistletoe EVER. And so it was par for the course that said sprig would be set upon in a frenzy by one particular male director on the Friday night of the office party. He’d then furtively stick mistletoe to employees when they were otherwise engaged, grab another employee (usually, funnily enough, of the opposite sex) push them together like magnets and shout ‘Snog, Snog, Snog!‘ Yeah, pathetic, immature and a real eye-opener as to the likely state of his own sex life…


8: Shots
Look, sometimes it’s nigh on impossible to get out of downing them in a group situation, I know. In fact, the likelihood is there’s not a snowflake’s chance in hell you will get out of the first round. But for round number 2 – which will creep up on you with unrelenting speed – just position yourself next to a menu stood upright at the edge of a bar counter… or a pot plant (but you’d have to get lucky to find one of those at approximately waist height). Now, time it just right and, with great stealth, when everyone else is taste buds to Jaegermeister Bomber, merrily tip the contents of your glass over the bar top – checking first of course that there’s not a member of bar staff in sight, then swiftly bring glass back to lips and cough and splutter with the best of them. Works every time and you get to retain your dignity and composure… as well as the authority over the camera.

9: Invitations for ‘after party coffee’
Should always be declined IF they come from someone you would never normally contemplate going out for coffee with in the day time… let alone back to their apartment after five rounds of cocktails. The key here is to just plan well ahead. Because beer goggles have a habit of making us take the most unlikely of decisions as far as our potential love interests are concerned. So I would simply advise this: write a list entitled PEOPLE I SHOULD NOT ALLOW MYSELF TO HAVE ‘AFTER WORK PARTY COFFEE ALONE WITH’, and with your sober head on, make an honest tally of (both males and females who fit under said umbrella). Now keep it in your wallet or purse and every time you purchase an alcoholic beverage on the night, discreetly refer to it until it is completely ingrained in your psyche and not even alcohol can beg it to differ.


10: Declarations of undying love
I’ve seen it so many times before. And not just with undying love, but the showering of foxy flirtation, innuendos and all the rest. All traded across the Christmas work’s dinner before the waiter has even cleared up the uneaten (because everyone’s already half cut) Parma ham and melon balls. It’s so tempting to cut loose, let your hair down BIG time and go kerazy. You’ve had a whole year of being cooped up inside working with some of these miserable buggers after all. The temptation to go wild can be overwhelming! But, if you are career-minded, try to keep yourself at least 2 drinks behind the others. You’ll have so much more of a giggle observing their antics anyway and your head will bang less in the morning. Of course, every work place differs BIG time. One of my former offices was run by two clowns (lovable, affable rogues) who positively encouraged inane behaviour. So you had to kind of play them at their own game in order to keep your job. But they really were a one-off. The reality is most people work for companies and employers who are slightly different. Not necessarily normal, but well, slightly more socially aware. I’m not against romance in the work place. We spend so much of our lives there and naturally, attraction happens. But discreet, out of earshot and eyesight is generally the best way ahead!

11: Spin the bottle
Somebody WILL announce that you are all playing this. Make your excuses. Head to the bar, powder your nose, fake a phone call. Do not join in! As much as you fancy the gorgeous Suzy from Production, you could just as easily end up having to feel the rough end of Bob from Design’s tongue…

12: The ‘who would you sleep with… if your life depended on it’ game
The word childish definitely springs to mind here. But you’d be surprised at how few office Christmas parties don’t feature this. If somebody told you to jump off a cliff, would you do it? I’m hoping the answer to that is a resounding ‘no’. Well, the same goes for indulging in this game. Particularly when EVERYONE has the voice recorder on their mobiles prepped beneath the table for future blackmailing opportunities.

secret santa

13: Secret Santa
It’s a waste of money, time, wrapping paper and sellotape. The person who gets your name knows nothing about you and neither will you know a thing about the person that you land. An entire lunchtime is then spent negotiating the joy that is (more often than not) big city shopping just to find that perfect – and totally unachievable since they are a complete stranger – balance between not spending too much/too little, not getting anything too saucy/frumpy, not insinuating they are fat by going the chocolate route/not insinuating they smell by going the toiletries route. Far better idea: call it an ‘Unsecret Santa’. Vote en masse for a volunteer. They have to dress up as Santa. Everybody buys themselves their ultimate Christmas gift. Because, let’s face it, when would we have the opportunity otherwise? Santa delivers them all to the Christmas office dining table. We all go home fulfilled.

14: Sharing a taxi
Um, I thought I’d made this clear enough in point 9.

15: Let’s go on to a nightclub…
This is all good and well. But once again, be wary of your post-Christmas ‘do’ posse. Opting for even numbers across the sexes is probably the best idea; you don’t want anybody entertaining ideas about a foursome. And for goodness sake, if your group has magnetically attracted senior staff, just make sure there are a few of them. What I am trying to say is under no circumstances if you are a soldier should you go it alone for a night of grooving with the team lead. Trust me: 9 times out of 10 this is a recipe for Christmas disaster. Not least because unbeknownst to the two of you, Tricky Dicky from Sales has followed you all the way to the disco with his new and upgraded iPad and its swish video.

16: Truth or dare
Re-read points 11 and 12.

17: Know your doors
I have lost count of the Christmas meals I have been to where the lightweight of the group mistakes the kitchen door for the toilets. Yes, even despite the steam emanating from the portholes where the sea of tall chefs’ hats is visible for all to see. Seriously – and I am not often serious – make a mental note of the doors before your drinking gets out of hand. It really is all too easy to be escorted back to your table like a naughty school girl. I know because I have done it numerous times as a teen in cocktail bars throughout Bristol.

18: Know your quickest escape route
Taking into account points 1-17 I will say no more!

Except ‘bottoms up!

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