By Rochelle Bowen, Talent Acquisition Manager
While some people have been looking forward to the Christmas party for months, others aren't as confident about mingling with colleagues outside of the office. Here's how to approach it, no matter your role.
Christmas parties are the highlight of the social calendar in many businesses, but all too often they can fill workers with dread before – and after – the event. As the festive season bursts into full swing, we take a look at how you can survive, and dare we say, enjoy the office party, no matter your role in the organisation.
So you’re the newest member of the team and this will be the first time you’ve had to socialise with your colleagues outside of the office. It’s worth doing some digging to find out about last year’s Christmas party, so that you can feel you know what to expect. This is a great chance for you to get to know people in a more casual setting, so take the opportunity to circulate and, if you’re part of a big organisation, introduce yourself to new people. Keep in mind that how you behave on this occasion could form part of other people’s first impressions of you and try to take a middle-of-the-road approach.
It can be difficult to be the boss at the Christmas party, with all eyes on you to set the tone for the evening. Obviously you’ll want to avoid drinking too much or being overly casual, but this is a celebration of the year’s hard work and you should be able to join in. It could be a good idea to let the team know what you expect of them, either by office email or morning meeting, so that they know they can relax around you and enjoy themselves, but ultimately they will mirror your behaviour. So take a step back, relax and celebrate a successful year.
The less-than-social butterfly
Parties aren’t for everyone; there are some that would prefer a quiet evening in to a big night out and for those people the Christmas party can be a challenge. The simplest solution in this case could be not to go, but if the fear of missing out is greater than the fear of awkward small talk then there are a few things you can do to improve your experience. Firstly, just relax. This isn’t a business meeting where you’re expected to perform, it should be fun and light-hearted. Try arriving with a colleague you feel comfortable with, so you can ease yourself into conversation. Ask open-ended questions to keep the other person talking, and be open when queries are returned. Above all, remember the reason you’re there is to celebrate a successful year with your coworkers.
The party animal
At the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got those who can’t wait for the chance to let loose for the evening. Whilst it’s easy to think that these people have it made, freely socialising with everyone from the boss to the office manager, it’s also easy for party animals to peak too early in the night and have to cut the fun short. Avoid a red-face the next time you go into the office by pacing yourself. Drink the occasional water and don’t forget to have something to eat. Remember that other people will feel less comfortable and try to include them in conversations. Never forget that the next time you see these people you’re likely to be stonecold sober and there’s always someone who will remember the details that you don’t.