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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 December 10, 2019

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

Highly motivated employees are essential to the success of any business. Most people spend a third of their lives at work.[1] That’s a significant amount of time away from home, apart from the people who make us happy and the things we love to do. So keeping employee motivation high is essential for creating an office environment that gets the best out of our people.

But do you know what motivates your people?

It’s simple:

  • Is their work stimulating?
  • Does it challenge them?
  • Is there room to grow, a promotion perhaps?
  • Do you encourage creativity?
  • Can they speak openly and honestly with you?
  • Do you praise them?
  • Do you trust your staff to take ownership of their work?
  • Do they feel safe in their work environment?
  • And more importantly, do you pay them properly?

Every one of these factors contributes to the general happiness of your employees. It’s what motivates them to come into the office each day and work hard, hit goals, and get results.

In contrast, an unmotivated employee is typically unhappy. They take more sick days, they’re not invested in seeing your business succeed, and they’re always on the lookout for something better.

Stats show that 81 percent of employees would consider leaving their jobs today if the right opportunity presented itself.[2] So it’s up to you to set aside time and energy to create a work environment that benefits every one of your employees.

These seven strategies will help you motivate your people to consistently deliver quality work and, more importantly, to stick around for the long term.

1. Be Someone They Can Rely On

You rely on your people to turn up to work each day, to come to you when they have a problem they can’t solve, to be honest, and to always engage professionally with customers.

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But this is not a one-way street. You, too, need to be someone your team can rely on. They trust you to have their backs when a client is unreasonable, to know that the decisions they make are in your best interest, and to make good on your promises.

If you say you’ll attend an important meeting, be there. If your company makes a profit and you’ve said you’ll pay a bonus, pay it. The goodwill of your people is something you never want to test, let alone lose.

Be reliable; it’s astounding how much this motivates your people.

2. Create an Awesome Company Culture

There’s no denying that company culture trickles down from the top. Your leadership and attitude massively influences the attitudes, work ethic, and happiness of your staff. If you’re always stressed-out, overly demanding, and unreasonable, it’ll create tension in your office which will adversely affect your employees’ motivation levels.

In fact, the HAYS “US What People Want Survey” found that 47 percent of staff who are actively looking for a new job, pinpoint company culture as the driving force behind their reason to leave.

So if you have high staff turnover, you need to determine whether your company culture might be the motivating factor behind your churn rate.

Here are four ways to build a culture that keeps your employees highly motivated.

  • Be conscious of the image you present. Your body language and attitude can positively or negatively impact your employees. So come to work energized. Be optimistic, friendly, and engaging—this enthusiasm will spill over to your people and motivate them to be more productive and efficient.
  • Appreciate your people and be reasonable. Celebrate your team’s achievements. If they’re doing a good job, tell them. Encourage them to challenge themselves and try new things. And reward when deserved. If they’re struggling, help them. Work together to find solutions and be a sounding board for their ideas.
  • Be flexible. Give your people opportunities to work remotely—this is highly motivating to staff, particularly millennials. They don’t want to be battling traffic each day on their way to work. They don’t want to miss their kids’ baseball games or ballet rehearsals. Stats show that companies that offer flextime and the ability to work from home or a coffee shop have happier and more productive employees.
  • Create employee-friendly work environments. These are spaces that inspire and ignite the imagination. Have you ever been to Google’s offices? No headquarter is the same. From indoor slides and food trucks, to hammocks, and funky work pods on the wall, gaming rooms, and tranquil interior gardens, there’s something for everyone. It’s a space where people want to be, catering to their need for creativity, quiet, or team building; you name it.

So take a look at your company culture and ask yourself, Is my business an attractive workplace for talented professionals? Does it inspire commitment and motivate my people? What could I do to improve my company culture?

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3. Touch Base with Your Team Weekly

Make time for your people, whether you run a remote business or work in an office, set aside time each week to talk to your people one-on-one. It’s non-negotiable.

When there’s an open line of communication between staff members, work gets done. Don’t believe me? A study by Gallup found that 26 percent of employees said feedback from their leaders helps them to do a better job.[3]

Your people want to feel trusted. They want to take ownership of their work, but they also need to know that when they have a question, they can reach out and get answers. If you’re unwilling to make yourself available, your team will quickly become unmotivated, work will stagnate, and your business will stop growing.

So block off time on your calendar each week to touch base with your people, even if only to let them know that what they’re working on matters.

4. Give Them the Tools They Need to Do Their Jobs Well

Imagine trying to run your business without electricity. How would you contact your clients? What would happen when your phone or computer battery died?

Technology is super critical to the success of your businesses. It allows you to work more efficiently, to be more productive, and to handle matters on-the-go. That’s why you need to give your people tools that will make their jobs easier.

Make sure their equipment is in good working condition. There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that takes ages to boot up. It’s got to go. Replace outdated software with new software. Don’t make your designer work in Coreldraw; give them access to the most up-to-date version of Adobe Creative Suite. Take it a step further and buy them a subscription to Shutterstock or Getty Images.

Make working for you a pleasure, not a pain; and watch your employees’ motivation levels rise.

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5. Provide Opportunities to Learn and Upskill

Would you believe me if I told you that 33 percent of people cite boredom and a need for new challenges as the top reason for leaving their job?[4] If you want to retain your talent, you need to upskill.

Thanks to technology, we live in a rapidly evolving world that demands we change with it. A copywriter is no longer just a writer; they now need to be experts in SEO, Google Adwords, CRMs, and so much more.

A pastry chef needs to be a food stylist, photographer, and social media manager. An entrepreneur needs to be a marketer—or at least take ownership of the marketing message for their business—if they hope to scale.

Technology makes all of this possible. No matter your location, your people can continuously expand their knowledge and gain new skill sets—something that’s highly motivating to employees. They want to know that there are opportunities to grow and develop themselves.

If you won’t invest in your people, then your business becomes just another job to tide them over until they find where they truly belong. So be the company that sees value in developing its people.

6. Monitor Their Workload

Overworked employees tend to be unproductive and unhappy. Your people cannot be at full capacity every day, month to month. Something’s got to give. They’ll become deflated and their work will eventually suffer, which will negatively impact your business.

What I like to do is implement a traffic light system. It helps me to keep a finger on the pulse of my business. So there’s red, yellow, and green:

  • Red means they’re fully loaded.
  • Yellow means they’re busy, but they can potentially take on more.
  • Green means they haven’t got enough to do.

I use this traffic light system because I don’t want my team members to be stressed out of their brains all the time. If they are, they won’t make good decisions and they won’t do good work.

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If my people are regularly overloaded, I have things to think about. Perhaps I need to hire a new person to help ease the load or take a closer look at what projects are good to go, and which can take a back seat.

And this is why #3 is essential. If I’m regularly engaging with my people, I’ll know that while they’re coping with their workload, it is impacting their performance and health, and I’ll take action.

7. Don’t Mess Around with Your Employees’ Pay

Never mess around with your people’s salary. As a business owner or high-level manager, it’s easy to forget that most people live from paycheck to paycheck. Delayed compensation can mean a missed bill payment, which could result in costly penalties they can’t afford or hits to their credit score.

So it’s your job to ensure that you pay your people on time.

The Bottom Line

A motivated team is an asset to any business. These people never give up. They get excited about coming to work each day and can’t wait to test a new theory or tackle a particularly tricky challenge. They’re proud of the work they do. And more importantly, they have no reason to leave.

Wouldn’t you rather be part of their success story than the business that drove them away?

More to Motivate Your Team

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

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