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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 April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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