Career, Engineering, Lifestyle, Relationships, Sarah

Hedy’s Guide to Surviving your Work Christmas Party

My work Christmas party was last night (Friday night) so I’m feeling a teeny bit rough today as a result.  No matter what you think about your work mates or the whole idea of Christmas parties, if you see a future with your company then it’s a good idea to at least make an appearance at the event.  So to get you through I have put together a few golden rules, well they’re more like guidelines.  Let’s see how many I managed to break last night!

Appropriate PPE

So we’ve all heard this one hundreds of times before, but despite including the word party this is still a work function so unless you want to be the office gossip next week it’s best to make sure you wear an outfit with a low risk of wardrobe malfunction.  Also make sure you’re wearing appropriate footwear for the event.  I’ve been to many different types of christmas parties, from BBQs at sports ground with 1000s of people to fancy dinners, and making sure you’re comfortable in your outfit really is the key to being able to enjoy yourself and make the most of the event.

My colleague last night told a story of the 2010 function, the year it was particularly snowy in Edinburgh.  Her heels were so high and slippy that she managed fall over in the snow after the party, almost lost her two front teeth and ended up looking like a turtle trapped in the snow.  Never a good end to the evening!

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

I didn’t do too well with the Appropriate PPE last night.  My dress was very modest, with a high neck line and the hemline well below my knees, however the choice of a white dress and red wine as my beverage for the evening was not an inspired decision.  Sarah 0 – Christmas Party 1

Eat Beforehand

It’s generally a good idea to at least line your stomach with something before you get to the christmas party so that first glass of prosecco doesn’t go straight to your head!  And if possible get something healthy and filling in to you so you don’t spend the evening hovering next to the snack table.

We started the party early with red wine and Christmas cake.  It all went downhill from there….  Sarah 0 – Christmas Party 2


I’m a firm believer in having a couple of drinks to lubricate yourself and make conversation easier, but you must draw the line somewhere so you don’t end up photocopying yourself, or under the mistletoe with one of the graduates.  You probably all have your own rule of thumb when drinking, so I would stick with that and decrease the amount you drink that night.  I like to stick to one or two kinds of alcohol, interspersed with a fair amount of water.  If you don’t drink at all then sparkling water is a great option, which you can always pass off as vodka, lime and soda if need be!
I did pretty well on this count this year, with red wine as my poison of choice after a couple of prosecco’s to start the festivities.  Then moved on to whisky to finish the night.  Red wine can make me emotional sometimes so it’s not usually my poison of choice but with the temperature around zero at the moment and mulled wine readily available it’s a pretty sensible choice.   Sarah 1 – Christmas Party 2
Don’t drink so much you wear tinsel on your head
Or as a moustache..


Topics of conversation

The Christmas party is a great opportunity to network getting to know your colleagues without the pressure of deadlines or enforced group work.  But if you’re following golden rule #4 then conversation may still be a little stilted so I’ve put together a topics of conversation that are sure to get the party started.

  • Are you planning on seeing the new Star Wars film?
  • What do you really love in life?
  • Did you know that Tim Peakes is the first Briton to be chosen as a European Space Agency astronaut and will be on his way to the ISS on December 15, launching from Kazahkstan?
  • How scientifically accurate is The Martian?  And what are the chances that he was actually a mechanical engineer AND a botanist?!

Three red wines later and I was busy telling everyone how all koalas have chlamydia. Sarah 1 – Christmas Party 3


This is an important one!  My recommendation is to go all Cold War spy and choose a good friend you can trust and put together a set of code words or gestures that you can use to get each other out of trouble.  Every office has that one guy who thinks it’s appropriate to get all up in your grill and completely ignore everyone’s right to personal space, so make sure you’ve got an out.  Maybe you can scratch your nose and your BFF can whisk you away to get some water, because hydration is the key.  It’s a little less obvious that mouthing ‘Get me the f out of here’ to most of the room.  He/she can also be the one to make sure you don’t go overboard or that if you do you make it to the bathroom in time, she can hold your hair back and makes sure you get in the correct taxi at the end of the night.

My office only has 12 people in it, 4 of which are female, and we’re all close enough these days to have this down pat.  On Friday night I was the one who made sure we all got up and down the multiple flights of spiral stairs between our private dining room and the bar!  Sarah 2 – Christmas Party 3

Stay Hydrated

I’ve already mentioned this one before but it’s so important it deserves it’s own section.  Staying hydrated is important if you want to minimise the damage the next day.  But it’s even more important if your Christmas party is in the heat of the Australian sun.

Beer isn’t appropriate hydration for the harsh Australian sun

Whilst we were both still living and working in Mt Isa, Xstrata held it’s Christmas parties at about 4pm at the local hockey ground.  There was minimal shade and the average weather forecast was 40 degrees and sunny so staying hydrated was super important.  Unfortunately Yvette had only had one glass of water that day, so after one drink at the Christmas party she vomited everywhere, fainted, argued with her boss about her age, and ended up in hospital overnight with low blood pressure.  Not really why you want to be the centre of attention at your work Christmas party.

Thankfully this year the waitstaff took care of this one for me, ensuring my water glass was always full so I was well hydrated by the end of the evening.  Sarah 3 – Christmas Party 3

At the end of the night

Most importantly you need to know how to get home.  Have your exit strategy worked out in advance. Use that friend of yours to get out of any particularly sticky situations, make sure you know which train/bus/ferry you’re getting home, or prebook a taxi.  You can always change the time of the taxi but at least you know it’s coming and that you will get home.  Take out enough cash to get you home earlier in the day so you don’t need to make a beeline to the ATM as drunkenly stumble out of the party.

The only plan I had was to meet the boyfriend after my work party and stumble down the road to his work party and meet his colleagues for the first time….

Sometimes I surprise even myself with my sheer inappropriateness…

So after what I thought was a pretty successful evening my Final Score = Sarah 3 – Christmas Party 4

We hope you have a great work Christmas party, and meet a few new people and get out of your comfort zone a little.  But not so much that there’s photocopies of your butt all over your desk when you go to work the next day!

3 thoughts on “Hedy’s Guide to Surviving your Work Christmas Party”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s