One study found one in three of us do something we regret at an office party.
Whether it’s kissing a colleague, flirting with the boss, having a row with someone you dislike, being sick in the loo or posting things you shouldn’t have, behaving badly at the work ‘do’ can do more than get tongues wagging.
It can get you fired.
Here’s how to negotiate the minefield of embarrassing slip-ups at your work ‘do’, despite the dodgy dancing and loads of booze.
Sex expert Tracey Cox reveals her six top tips on what to do and what not to do at an office Christmas party (stock image)
DON’T drink too much
Everyone knows not to do it but it’s the mistake pretty much all of us have been guilty of at some point.
What’s the worst thing you’ve done at an office Christmas party?
‘I told my boss I’d been in love with her for years. She’s straight and married but we’re great friends. She knows I’m lesbian and I read her signals wrong. It was so uncomfortable afterwards, I left.’
‘A workmate moved in on the woman I fancied and I ended up picking a fight with him. The whole office saw and knew why.’
‘I invited two co-workers to spend Christmas day with our family because they were both going to be on their own. I was drunk and felt sorry for them. I thought they’d forget but they both reiterated that they’d love to come the next day. I had no choice but to honour the invitation. It was awkward and forced and my husband and kids were furious.’
‘I took a guy I’d only been dating a while and he got horribly drunk and started having a go at all my workmates and ranting at them. He had to be removed by security.’
‘I was dancing with my boss, both of us drunk, and took his hands and put them underneath my top onto my breasts. He looked horrified, walked off and left the party. I had to wait five days before finding out if I’d lost my job or not. I didn’t get sacked, but he made it very clear I should be looking for another job.’
‘The head of HR who didn’t like me at all, made a beeline for me when he saw I’d clearly drunk too much. I tried to reassure him I hadn’t – and ended up being sick on his shoes.’
Why shouldn’t you drink when it’s all free?
Well, the clue’s in the name: it’s the office Christmas party. In other words, it’s a work event.
The same rules apply, you just think they don’t when you’re robbed of all logical thought by five glasses of wine.
We all think we’re hotter, funnier, better dancers and more entertaining when we’re drunk.
If you and your workmates fancy a boozy Christmas celebration, do it outside the office – and probably don’t invite your boss.
Speaking of which, even if your boss is one step away from dancing on the table, it still doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to let go.
If they wake up feeling mortified the next day – highly likely – the last thing you want is for you to have been their partner in crime and a witness to it all.
How many drinks is too many drinks?
That depends on your tolerance level.
Most of us know our limit: now is the time to stick to it.
Also stick to drinks you know: if you normally drink wine, don’t suddenly decide you can handle six Tequila Sunrise cocktails.
If you remain reasonably sober, the other office party rules are a doddle!
DO get the dress code right
You might want to stand out but the trick is to blend in, so always check with other colleagues on what to wear.
If everyone else is going all out even though the invitation says casual, so should you.
If they’re all planning on wearing jeans and trainers, you’re going to look silly in that tight sequined number, teetering about on too-high heels.
We all love to show off and you’ve spent all year with your hot bod hidden by demure work clothes. But the office party isn’t the time to dress provocatively.
Even if there’s someone there that you’re desperately crushing on.
DON’T pounce on the workmate you fancy
If the head of McDonald’s can lose his job for having a relationship with a co-worker, so can you.
Tracey Cox (pictured) said not to drink too much and stick to the dress code
Most companies frown on office romances; others ban them.
True, lots of people do meet their partners at work but it’s something that needs to be managed carefully.
Most relationships don’t make it past three months and most don’t end mutually either.
There’s a reason why the higher-ups don’t like co-workers getting together: it’s uncomfortable for everyone when things go sour.
If you really like a colleague and want to take it further, make your move outside the office rather than slam them against a wall after too much mulled wine.
Beware the urge for a drunken snog, as well.
If you’re looking at a work mate you haven’t looked at twice but suddenly think is sex-on-legs and it’s nearly time to leave, do. Immediately – and on your own.
Beer googles make everyone five times more attractive than they are.
You have to work with this person. They won’t just go away.
DO resist the urge to gossip
When you open one eye the next morning, aim not to be thinking, ‘Jesus! Why did I tell Martha that Shane from accounts has a wind problem?’
Nothing – but nothing – fascinates co-workers more than gossip about other co-workers. This is why it’s so tempting to share that juicy bit of gossip at the office party: you become the centre of attention and if it’s a great story, how can you resist telling it after four wines?
Spreading rumours or gossiping about other colleagues won’t just embarrass your workmates, get you a reputation for having loose lips and make people distrust you.
These days, it can get you fired. Especially if it’s slanderous and damages a person’s reputation.
By all means bitch away to your partner when you’re home.
But telling your bosses secretary how much you hate working with John because he’s a miserable bast**d, isn’t going to get you promoted.
If someone else starts mouthing off about another colleague, excuse yourself to go to the loo – and don’t go back.
The British sex expert says to avoid a snog with the work friend you fancy (stock image)
DON’T post anything on social media
It would be criminal NOT to post a video of your boss doing a cringey Dad dance, right?
Your followers will love it. But they won’t – and don’t kid yourself they won’t see it just because they don’t follow you.
I’m betting at least one work colleague does – and just as you couldn’t resist posting it, they won’t be able to resist showing it everyone in the office.
If you must post something, wait until the next morning – after you’ve had coffee – when your judgement is sound.
Check everyone in the pic looks OK and is behaving themselves: accidentally posting a pic which has two colleagues having a secret snog in the shadows in the corner, will not be appreciated.
Steer clear of writing anything that could be misinterpreted or pokes fun at your colleagues.
DON’T leave too early – but don’t be the last to leave
Even if you absolutely detest your co-workers and hate your boss, it’s really bad form not to show up to the office party.
Leaving the second you can sends a similar message: I don’t you all so I’m certainly not spending any longer socialising than I have to.
Like it or not, you’re part of a team and the Christmas party is designed to boost company morale.
Make an effort to get to know the people you work with and you might just change your mind about them.
If it’s a sit-down dinner, don’t leave until dessert has been served and cleared. If it’s casual drinks, wait until at least one or two others has left before making your escape.
Being the first to leave is almost as bad as being the last.
Visit traceycox.com for more information about sex.
You’ll find Tracey’s new Soft Feel Supersex product range, for women who find sex uncomfortable, at lovehoney.co.uk.https://www.traceycox.com/