Dancing on your desk with tinsel around your neck at your work Christmas party might be vaguely acceptable. But it’s a safe bet telling your boss to fuck off while skolling company-sponsored champagne won’t go down too well. If only good judgment could withstand the disintegrating effects of festive fizz.
For Rubina*, it was at her now ex-boyfriend’s office do where she discovered drinking rosé wine made her lary. “We were eating a Christmas dinner at Pitcher & Piano. I didn’t know anyone that well so decided to have a few glasses of wine to take the edge off,” the 28-year-old from Fulham says.
“One of my ex’s workmates started slagging off someone they work with and I replied with something like: ‘Yeah, I’ve not really spoken to her but she seems like an absolute c***.’
“It must have been louder than I realised, because the next thing I know, everything’s gone silent and the boss, who’s sitting diagonally from me, has heard everything.”
Not surprisingly, Rubina watched her relationship take a downward spiral after that, though she’s pleased to admit she has managed to maintain a level of decorum at Christmas parties since – by laying off the rosé.
But Rubina’s not alone in enjoying herself a bit too much. Almost 25 per cent of workers in Britain admit kissing a colleague and one in ten say they have had sex with a someone they work with at a staff Xmas party.
Media workers are particularly prone to bedding their colleagues, while teachers are the most likely to call in sick the day after, according to research by TGI Friday’s.
The study further reveals that in the spirit of Christmas, 17 per cent of workers feel they may have been over-enthusiastic on the dancefloor, while tradesmen are the least likely to mince their words when it comes to their feelings about their boss.
Terry*, a security installations manager recalls a blunt colleague at his office do.
He says: “We had our party at a Comedy Store and it was all getting boisterous. One of my colleagues started giving the comedians a ribbing, while another one was kicking off at the bar. Our MD asked him to calm down, to which he replied, ‘you can fuck off you c***!’ The next day, he was unemployed.”
Kylie * from north London, has a similar horror story.
“I was walking home from the Christmas do of a large accounting firm I once worked for, and I saw my manager lying on the ground like a homeless person. He was in a pool on vomit, face down, so me and another guy managed to pick him up and carry him back to the office. He spewed all through the foyer and was so drunk we couldn’t get a response from him at all.
“We ended up calling an abulance, and he spent the night and most of the next day in hospital!”
Of course, it would be nice to think that everyone, most of all our bosses, could be insouciant about what goes on at the Christmas party. But the truth is without restraint, a work do can be the perfect place to write off your career. So, here are some ways to dodge the pitfalls of office party protocol:
- Remember it’s a business function (with a social element). You’ll still have to work with these people, and the area manager may not know your name but you don’t want him to remember your face for the wrong reasons.
- Sitting on the knee of the colleague who fancies you and stroking his bald spot all night is nothing to be proud of. Appoint a wingperson to help you avoid bad moves.
- Dress for the occasion. Leave the backless party dress for a Saturday night out with friends.
- Thou shalt not mix drinks! Wine and whisky cocktails are a surefire way to lose more than your inhibitions.
- Nobody expects you to stay sober, but draw the line at drugs, especially if clients are present, or you tread on the grounds of dismissal.
- Make sure you don’t commit career suicide by discussing pay or revealing company secrets.
Finally, could Chloe’s Christmas party tale below be the worst ever*?
“There was lots of company politics going on at the time and after drinks, it all came out. On a train ride back to London my colleague worked herself into a hysterical, sobbing frenzy, telling the CEO she hated her job, how useless her assistant was and how crap the company was. She resigned with mascara running down her cheeks, much to the bemusement of the CEO. We could only sit in stunned silence as her two-hour meltdown escalated. Somehow, she still has her job, though relations with her assistant are somewhat frosty.”