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15 Hacks for Rocking Your Office Christmas Party

15 Hacks for Rocking Your Office Christmas Party

Aaaah, office Christmas parties—There’s nothing quite like them.

This, of course, can be a good or bad thing, depending upon your view of spending time outside of work with your work colleagues in organised frivolity and celebration of the festive season. However, office Christmas parties can be absolute minefields to navigate, and questions about what to do, what not to do, and how to survive the whole event relatively unscathed can be daunting.

So to help you professionally get your Yuletide groove on, here are fifteen ways to survive the slew of office Christmas parties, which will hopefully ensure you have a good time, and not for all the wrong reasons.

1. Bring A Spare Change of Clothes

One of our top tips and hacks to help you enjoy and survive office Christmas parties is to bring a spare change of clothes with you. You really don’t want to be spending an extra few hours in the same clothes you’ve been rocking during your work day—aside from the fact it might not be the appropriate attire to wear if there’s a more relaxed theme of the party, chances are you’ll start to smell a little funky before the party even starts.

You don’t even have to change into a completely new outfit—change your shirt or top, throw on some different shoes, add plenty of deodorant and splash water on your face and you should be as good as new. Simple as that, really, although if you want to go the full nine yards and bring an entirely new outfit, feel free to change it up. Packing a spare pair of underwear and comfortable shoes is also a good tip to keep in mind.

2. Leave The Holiday Outfit At Home

Yes, it’s certainly adorable when some people decide to go whole hog and dress as Santa or his elves, or when they slip into a strange, revealing outfit. However, for the majority of people, holiday-themed outfits can go down well at certain functions, but the office party isn’t one of them.

Most people opt for a relaxed office-wear approach for the party, and while we’re not advocating for a too-casual attire, it’s always nicer to see people relaxed. Anyone who’s put the time and effort into renting and fitting into a special costume is overestimating and misjudging the tone of the party. That is, unless everyone else is going in fancy dress or especially smart attire. Then go mad.

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3. Don’t Forget To Attend

Okay, so maybe holiday parties aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but unless you have a major family commitment or an actual illness, you should always show up to the office party, even if only for half an hour. Social anxiety can also make events like these stressful, so it’s understandable that some people elect to stay away from the festivities.

However, you really should try and make the minimum of effort. Holiday parties are the social gathering highlights of your workplace, and it’s a chance to relax and unwind and actually connect with your coworkers. So, if you’re struggling to get motivated to attend the office Christmas party, make yourself a firm promise to go for just half an hour. After all, you might find yourself having a good time and even end up staying longer. And with at least that half an hour under your belt, you’ve had a chance to be social, memorable and celebratory before you head home.

4. Don’t Go Mad On The Holiday Buffet

The food at an office Christmas party can either swing to the surprisingly and effusively good, or drop to depths of which you’ve never seen nor tasted before, and hope never to again. Regardless, when the mood is right, and the libations are flowing, it’s easy to decide to stuff yourself full of food, indiscriminately shoving it in until you’ve demolished half the offerings and made yourself feel ill.

As a result, one major tip is to eat before you come to the party. Even if it’s just a snack, it makes you less likely to binge on whatever’s offered, making it better for your waistline, stomach and your reputation among your colleagues. Lining your stomach with food ahead of the office Christmas party may be a wise move in any case: Given the quantities of alcohol consumed, it is always best to treat your stomach and your body kindly before such an event.

5. Bring Something To The Party

This is a bit of a no-brainer, but it is still worth repeating: Bring something to the office Christmas party. It doesn’t have to be anything huge or expensive, but chances are some poor soul has had to do all the preparing for it by themselves. Volunteering to bring something to eat or some drinks mixers will not only ease their burden, it’ll make you a respected member of the office.

6. Don’t Stay On Your Own

Nobody likes it when someone keeps to themselves during the festivities, so to get through office Christmas parties easier and happier, be sure to socialize with a few people. You don’t have to stick to the people in your office, and you certainly don’t have to go circulate with the drunken leery guy, but saying a cordial hello or having a nice chat with someone else would certainly raise your office standing.

Even better, make sure you speak to the newest member of the office team. If it’s their first Christmas party as part of the office, they’ll be nervous enough, so a few friendly words from you (or even a full-blown chat) will not only win you a potential new friend, but also let you you be seen as friendly, amiable and a general all-round good egg.

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7. Keep Your PDA To A Minimum

Some office parties might allow you to bring a plus one, which can be an awesome way to introduce friends and colleagues to your significant other. However, you have to remember that at office Christmas parties, you’re there to relax and socialize, not to show off your sweetie to everyone in the room.

As such, try and keep your PDA (personal displays of affection) to a minimum. No one, not even your closest friends and work colleagues, particularly wants to see your tongue halfway down your guy or gal’s throat. Plus, flaunting that kind of behavior might actually reflect badly on you. Treat it like a high school dance: Keep your hands above the waist, keep kisses chaste, and save your affections for after the party.

8. Plan Your Night Ahead

Planning your night ahead can be a marvelous trick when looking into how survive and thrive in an office Christmas party situation, particularly when it comes to making the most of your fun time together with your colleagues.

Simple things such as looking into opening times of restaurants, bars, clubs, and other evening events for after the party will enable you to help make the night go smoother. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t have spontaneity and fun, but keeping a little mental index of stuff to do and go when the inevitable hits the fan will make you an invaluable and respected source to your workmates.

9. Don’t Talk About Your Love Life

It doesn’t matter if your love is the kind that Shakespeare himself would have rhapsodized over: Unless it’s an engagement, a pregnancy or surprise nuptials, then leave the talk about romances at the door when you’re at the office Christmas parties.

It’s not that your colleagues aren’t happy with your new-found love; it’s simply that during an office Christmas party, a time in which you are with your colleagues an additional few hours, talking non-stop about your beloved’s actions and their beauty may wind up becoming irritating rather than endearing, and you might end up less popular than you started with. In short, keep it sweet, simple and short.

10. Don’t Leave Without Saying Goodbye

Okay, so maybe the evening hasn’t gone well: There’s been awkward questions and awkward dancing and maybe even an awkward hookup under the festive mistletoe. No matter. One of the most important things to do at the end of a party is to always say goodbye to everyone. Do not leave without saying goodbye, or without letting people know you are going.

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Why? Because it indicates that you don’t actually have much respect for the occasion, or the people that you’re with. And while you might not feel that way and are simply an introvert wanting to get home, have a little respect for your colleagues and at least let someone know you’re heading home. You might be a bit of a homebird in their eyes, but not rude.

11. Try and Leave Before You’re Not Missed

Conversely to the above advice, a great tip can be to leave before you’re missed, i.e. before everyone starts getting catastrophically drunk and revealing things they’d much rather not.

Restraint is an untapped virtue in the modern world, and cutting yourself off can not only allow you to feel much better—you’ll have more time to sleep off the hangover, after all—it can also make your colleagues and friends subconsciously make their time with you more important and meaningful. Leave an hour or two early, reap the benefits and leave the regretful shenanigans to the others.

12. Leave The Eggnog To The Experts

Everyone thinks they can be a bartender when the chips are down, and while the physical components might all be there (you have hands, alcohol and a mixing apparatus), there’s a reason bartending is a profession. It’s hard and tricky, so don’t try and be the best drunken bartender in the world, because your chances of failure will skyrocket.

If you really want to mix a drink for someone, make sure that it’s something simple. Check out some easier recipes, such as a vodka screwdriver cocktail, if you want to prepare yourself or a friend a drink at the party. However, save the complicated ones for the people who know what they’re doing. Remember, this isn’t Mad Men.

13. Use The Mistletoe Sparingly

Is there anything worse than a mistletoe creep? Not much, and certainly not at an office Christmas party. Mistletoe has been used since Iron Age times as part of rituals, recently adapted in the 20th century as something for people to kiss under at Christmas (although hanging over doorways reportedly hearkens back to the times of the Druids, when they used it ward off evil).

However, too much mistletoe at office Christmas parties can spoil an otherwise lovely event. A lot of the time, people simply don’t want to be kissing each other, and while the idea is a charming sentiment, it’s also encouraging some not-very-professional behavior. Leave a single sprig somewhere, if at all, and make sure to confiscate any from someone who decides to try their luck with their own bushel of mistletoe.

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14. Plan A Cab Before You Leave

The office Christmas party is winding down. You’ve had fun, you’ve shared a few laughs and you’ve had questionable food and drink. However, you’re not in any state to drive home, and the buses and trains have stopped. Clearly calling a cab is the right decision, but in order to stop yourself from having to fight off the late-night drunken revelers or desperate workmates, it’s always best to plan and book a taxicab well in advance.

Booking your cab will enable you to have more fun, relax more and feel safe in the knowledge that your transportation home is all but assured. Just make sure the cab is paid for by the end of the night, and you can go to bed feeling safe in the knowledge that you didn’t drive home drunk, or worse.

15. Always Say Thank You

Last, but most certainly not least, the most important hack to having a successful office Christmas party, is to always say thank you. It might not seem like much, and there’ll be plenty of your colleagues who just consumed the food and drink and then head off home. However, the person or persons who organised it all will feel especially grateful if you say thank you, and show that you honestly enjoyed and appreciated their efforts.

It’s not hard, at all, and even if you don’t stay behind to help clear up (which can be a serious points-booster around the office), you can show that you understand and acknowledge the hard work that goes into planning even the smallest event. That’s the ultimate office Christmas party hack, and it’s one more appropriate than ever at this time of year.

Featured photo credit: Richard Hopkins via flickr.com

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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