How to survive the office party - without losing your job
Disaster! The 'obligatory' email about the office Christmas party has just arrived in your inbox and there doesn't seem any way to escape it. Or perhaps you're rubbing your hands in glee having already booked your hair appointment.
Whatever your reaction, don't worry. We have the idiot-proof guide to getting through it, and making it memorable… for all the right reasons.
1 Do your advance research
Find out if partners are included, and we don't mean the ones sitting up on the executive floor. Don't drag the boyfriend along if nobody else is - you'll end up minding him all night as you try to explain all the in-jokes.
Find out how much it will cost - is the company paying, or are you expected to contribute? Better know now than run up a huge bill for your Cosmo-swilling workmates. If there's only finger food provided, eat before you go. And never go directly from work - go home, change and get into party mood first.
2 Check out the dress code
Before you turn up in a spangly black number barely covering your behind and a pair of strappy high heels, only to find out it's a jeans-and-tee event. If you're a bloke, this advice is even more important.
3 Avoid the clique
You work with the same people every day of the year; take the opportunity to sit with someone new, or a different department from another floor. A relaxed atmosphere is a great opportunity to get to know people better. This being Ireland, you're bound to have gone to school with their sister, or be related to their neighbour.
4 Don't talk business
That's what the other 364 days are for. There's nothing worse than being stuck in a corner going over a fiscal review of the last quarter with Derek from accounts. If you are Derek from accounts, the danger signal is your companion's eyes inexplicably glazing over, or glancing over your shoulder for the exit. Stop. Get a life. Get a drink.
5 Office etiquette doesn't disappear
Your managers and co-workers are there, so technically, it's a work function. The safest route is to treat it as such or you run the risk of being the water-cooler topic on Monday.
Have a wingman whose job it is to drag you away if you start (a) dancing on a table, (b) taking your clothes off or, (c) snogging the boss. Susan Cosgrove of Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors says: "Issues that commonly arise at the Christmas party (and often from the least predictable people) include fighting, sexual harassment, bullying or other forms of inappropriate behaviour.
"Mistakenly, employees often believe that once they are off the clock or not in the office, they cannot be disciplined. This is incorrect.
"It will (or should) be dealt with by your employer exactly as if it occurred during working hours and gross misconduct may lead to termination of your employment. It may be worth remembering this before reaching for that next drink!"
6 Avoid social media
Gurning for photos as you slobber your drink down your shirt will provide a lively diversion for your Facebook friends, but perhaps not your line manager.
Refuse to be tagged in pictures, never drunk-tweet and log out of your email just in case you're tempted to fire off an inexplicably robust complaint to the CEO.
Susan Cosgrove adds: "An employee may find themselves in the middle of a disciplinary action or accused of bullying and harassment after posting a photograph or comment online which could lead to a complaint by another employee or may be deemed to be inappropriate by employers."
7 Try to resist a rush of misplaced romantic feelings
which can descend when co-workers you secretly fancy appear under dimmed lighting in a free bar.
Everyone looks their best at the Christmas party (at least for the first hour), but it won't last until Monday morning. If you want to take the opportunity of the relaxed environment to share the love, ask a friend to discreetly enquire on your behalf before launching yourself on your intended victim.
8 Decide how you're getting home before you leave home
Is it a taxi, or a lift, or are you the sad sod who'll drive everybody else? Book it, plan it and stick to it.
The alternative is to leave yourself open to that gorgeously sexy junior assistant manager finally locking eyes with you promisingly and suggesting you both go to the private after-party in their flat. Yeah. It's not going to happen.
9 Don't wake up the following morning dreading the post mortem
What goes on at the office party should stay at the office party, but since that's astonishingly unlikely, you can expect a week of gossip, slurs, slander and singularly conflicting accounts of everyone's movements. The only good side of this to be on is as the issuing party. Have evidence.
10 Finally, have fun!
There's a reason you're appreciated for all your hard work, and it's supposed to be craic. Don't over think or over drink. Turn up, let your hair down and avoid the 'third venue' - that 2am move to somewhere that can only come under the heading of 'It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time". It isn't.
Party on … with the caveat of "Careful Now".