A scene from television show Parks and Recreation.
The silly season is upon us, and of course there are few sillier things you can do than getting together with all the people you work with and becoming so intoxicated that you lose your judgement, and potentially your job.
So how can you have a great time with your colleagues, impress the bosses on whose preference your advancement depends, and keep the underlings who'd just love to take your place the moment you slip nice and downtrodden like they're supposed to be? This guide has all the answers.
DO relax. I'm not saying “definitely have a few drinks” – the constant peer pressure to do that is one of the most pervasive and lame features of Australian society. But it’s supposed to be a party, not an extended whole-of-office meeting. In particular, don’t talk only about work stuff. Yawn.
DON'T drink too much. If you’ve been to a Christmas party before, either you’ve seen what it’s like to be that one person who writes themselves off and has to be put in a cab, or you are that person. Cab cleaning fees are extensive, and it’ll take a long time to wipe off the stain to your rep, too.
DO dance. Don't worry about whether you're good or bad – in fact, it doesn't pay to have extremely smooth moves on the office dancefloor. If you think you look a little ridiculous, just pass it off as a comedy move, and claim that you're Australia's least convincing John Travolta impersonator. Which you probably aren't, because I am.
DON'T dirty dance. You remember that old cliche, "dance like nobody's watching"? Well, it doesn't apply at office Christmas parties. There, you need to dance like everyone's watching, and potentially making a video recording. At best, your drunken antics will make it into an embarrassing videoclip montage; at worst they'll reappear in your disciplinary hearing.
DO dress up. If there's a theme, own it, and if you don't own it, rent it from a costume shop. If you don't, you'll spend the entire party feeling like an idiot and trotting up some unconvincing line you thought of to justify your boring outfit. For instance – if the theme is "Frolics in the snow!", don't think you can get away with wearing a boring suit because you're interpreting "snow" as "cocaine" and everyone knows drug dealers dress as nondescriptly as possible. It won't seem clever, it'll seem pathetic, and besides, how come you know so much about the wardrobes of narcotics traffickers, anyway?
DON’T undress. I really don't think this should need to be spelled out, but certain prominent media figures have run into difficulties in this department on more than one occasion. If you have a recurring issue with indecent exposure, maybe you should stay at home on Christmas party day, having a special Party For One?
DO Secret Santa. It's fun to buy thoughtful or amusing presents for co-workers. If you're going to buy an embarrassing or insulting present, though, remember that secret Santa is only as secret as the person who drew up the list and has probably had three champagnes too many.
DON'T do a Kris Kringle. Getting random presents and shuffling them around so everyone gets one virtually guarantees that almost nobody will be happy with what they're taking home. And shop thoughtfully – remember, if you don’t want the genitalia-shaped soap, nobody does.
DO try the punch. But just a tiny sip first to see how thoroughly laced with spirits and/or Drano it is.
DON’T try to punch someone. See “Don’t drink too much”.
DO have a laugh with your boss. This might take the form of a nice, normal conversation, or maybe even poking a bit of fun at them. They won't mind –Christmas parties are the one time when they'll wish they were one of the gang and that people weren't forced to be nice to them even if they didn't especially want to.
DON'T laugh at your boss. They’ll remember, especially come performance review time. After all, they didn’t get to be the boss by not being ruthless or bearing grudges. Just laugh at them behind their back the way you usually do.
DO photocopy your arse. This is a Christmas party perennial, and therefore is always funny. If it at any point seems unfunny, convince yourself that you're not so much photocopying your arse as making an ironic comment about the cliche of photocopying your arse at the office Christmas party*.
DON'T upload your arse. The new generation of internet-connected photocopiers are a nightmare waiting to happen. Once your arse is online, being forwarded endlessly around your friends, it will never disappear, and may well end up setting up its own social media. Oh, and a related tip – DON'T accept a friend request from your own buttocks. They probably don't genuinely want to be friends.
DO karaoke. Because it’s the best, and if you follow these rules, it’ll be awesome.
DON’T not do karaoke. Oh, I know not everyone likes it, but in short, those people are wrong.
DO stay out late. Most workplaces don't socialise much, and it's a rare chance to get to know your colleagues. I always feel much more comfortable working alongside people when I've had the chance see them behaving like normal human beings outside of the office. So make sure you enjoy it to the full – it might be your last chance for 12 months.
DON'T be the last one standing when everyone else has had enough. You don't want to be that person who's trying to convince everyone to do just one more round of tequila shots when all they really want to do is go home and sleep. It makes you look like you don't have a home to go to.
* Don't actually photocopy your arse. But Australian Christmas party protocol demands that you pretend this is a hilarious idea, and make lots of jokes about it. Ha!