Keep a lid on it


Parties can and should be the best time of the month in the office, but it’s also the time when all the simmering passions, feuds, crushes and resentments can bubble to the surface — often with disastrous results. There are potential cringe-making pitfalls around every corner and reputations can be made or broken. Emerge from it as a cool, together, fun person and you’ll begin the week on a high. But come out of it slinking into the office with egg all over your face, and you’ll regret it all year. And your job may be in tatters. So here’s a guide to the do’s and don’ts of the party season in the office and to keeping your job, reputation and dignity intact.

The times and places

First of all watch out for the potential crisis situations. These are usually the ones where there’s alcohol flowing, like the office party, after-work drinks and outings, but can also include late nights. At these times:

Don’t drink too much. Either avoid alcohol altogether or decide on your limit and stick to it by drinking slowly or switching to soft drinks.

Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say on a normal day in the office. Avoid phrases such as:

•I’ve never liked you

•I’ve always fancied you

•Why won’t you promote me

•I could do your job with a paper bag over my head

Don’t trust your own judgment if you suddenly decide the office casanova is a nice bloke who just needs the right woman, or realise you fancy someone you’ve been working alongside. Chances are that it’s party lust and you’ll regret it horribly later.

Don’t gossip. Resist the impulse to criticise that over-the-top outfit, to speculate over who fancies who or to let it be known that you think so-and-so is about to get the push.

Don’t wear clothes that reveal parts of you you’ll later regret showing off to the office junior.

John regrets, “I knew I was doing well in my new job then I blew it by coming onto my boss at a drinks do. She cold-shouldered me for weeks and I came close to resigning.”


Do stay cool, calm and sober. Have fun and enjoy, but keep your wise head on too.

Do keep a sense of humour. Laugh off pressure to drink more and those inevitable entreaties from drunken colleagues to do a party piece.

Do dress in a way that makes you feel gorgeous without being tacky

Do give out goodwill. Say nice things about the people you work with - as long as you mean them. OK phrases include:

•I’ve always liked you

•It’s great working with you

•You look fantastic

•Thanks for all the work you’ve put in

Do plan to deal with any lusts or loathings you feel later on in the cool light of day. Grudges should be sorted, passions can be followed up and can even work out, but parties and drunken nights out are not the place to do it.

Catherine recalls, “I told the colleague I’d loathed all year just how much of a pain I thought he was. He was terribly hurt and there was no way I could make it up to him.”

One final note, if you do blow it, do the best you can to make amends. A note, apology, explanation or bunch of flowers can help.