4 Mistakes to Avoid at the Office Christmas Party

December 22, 2017

12:45 pm

The office Christmas party is a staple of business culture. Whether you’re a big corporation or a small startup, engaging in a little holiday cheer with your coworkers before taking some much needed time off has become the unofficial send-off for the holiday season. In fact, these parties have become as much a holiday tradition as mistletoe and spiking the eggnog.

Unfortunately, much like mistletoe and spiking the eggnog, office Christmas parties have become a lot creepier and unenjoyable for today’s employees. From casually embarrassing moments to rampant sexual harassment, modern day workers have begun to sour on this once common occurrence in offices around the country. And, tragically for those of you that love dancing around the copy room with a lamp shade on your head, the numbers don’t lie.

According to a survey of 2,720 Millennials on Tylt, 66 percent of respondents dreaded the prospect of attending an office Christmas party. For a generation that loves to socialize and doesn’t have a lot of expendable income, the opportunity to hang out with colleagues and enjoy some free drinks seems quite contrary to their ideals. After all, everyone loves Christmas, and everyone loves a party. So what’s behind this staggering shift? The “office” part, duh!

Another survey found that that nearly half of Millennials (48 percent) view the office Christmas party as more of a networking opportunity than a rager. Sure, alcohol can grease the wheels of your social graces a bit, but getting hammered in front of your many bosses is never on anyone’s to-do list for the year. In fact, only 54 percent of Millennials believe you shouldn’t drink ANY alcohol at an office Christmas party EVER.

In an effort to get an up-close look at some of the worst mistakes you can make at an office Christmas party, we interviewed a few attendees to hear some of their horror stories. Take a look at what they had to say below and remember: under no circumstance should you be making any of these mistakes!

Get Drunk

As far as the end-all-be-all of terrible mistakes to make at an office Christmas party, getting drunk is easily the worst. Whether you’re an angry drunk, a sad drunk, or the kind of drunk that insists on dancing with the CEO on top of the conference room table, you never want to have more than a casual glass of wine when you’re in the presence of your coworkers, bosses, and perhaps even clients.

“Drink what you want in the privacy of your home,” said Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations. “But at work, do not lose control. Ever. No matter what others are doing. If you say things to co-workers that you wouldn’t say when completely sober, you could pay the consequences for years to come.”

Overdo It

Office Christmas parties are stressful for employers as well. In addition to being the boss, they also need to plan this epic party that will keep people happy for all of 2018. However, it’s important to remember that going overboard with the celebration can go very wrong, particularly when livestock is involved.

“This one is a bit embarrassing but we thought it would be cool to bring in a reindeer for the Christmas party. Growing up you think that reindeer are pretty chill and cute. When we rented out Raury, everything was going pretty well. He was being a pretty good boy and friendly,” said Eric Horn, director of strategic partnerships at BlastChat in an interview.


“When the food arrived everything went to hell. Upon the food’s arrival, Raury got loose from the trainer. He immediately proceeded to charge the table and starting absolutely gorging himself on the food. He knocked over the table and damn near ate 90 percent of the food. It took about 20 minutes for the trainer to calm him down and wrangle him back. After he knocked over the table everyone but the trainer, our cofounder, and I fled. So lesson learned: never rent out a reindeer for the holiday party.”

Wear Goofy Clothes

Yes, the Christmas season lends itself to a bevy of whacky outfits that, unlike most times of year, will illicit compliments for your commitment to the holidays. The office Christmas party is no place for that. If you’re taking advantage of the networking opportunities at the party, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not your Rudolph nose has fallen off. If you don’t know what the dress code is, err on the side of fancy, as networking goes a lot better when you’re dressed to the nines.

“Ask around and find out what others are wearing,” said Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations. “The invitation may suggest the attire, but you never know how the suggestion will be translated, so check with your co-workers. Then, dress slightly above the average.”

Hook Up

This isn’t a sitcom. You’re not Pam and Jim. Hooking up with a fellow employee, particularly at the office Christmas party could not be more ill-advised if you did so while writing a letter to the CEO about how ugly you think his suit is. In addition to jeopardizing your career and potentially ruining relationships, remember that you have to work with this person in 2018.

“Needless to say, the following Monday was one of the most awkward moments of my life,” said Nate Masterson, marketing manager for Maple Holistics in an interview.

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Conor is a writer, comedian and world-renowned sweetheart. As the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host Startup Night at SXSW and the Funding Q&A at Innovate! and Celebrate, posing questions to notable tech minds from around the world. In his spare time, he thinks about how to properly pronounce the word "colloquially." Conor is the Assistant Editor and Writer at Tech.Co. You can email him at conor@tech.co.

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