How to sail through the office Christmas party

'Just because you're the 'shotmeister general' with your mates at the weekends, doesn't mean you hav

'Just because you're the 'shotmeister general' with your mates at the weekends, doesn't mean you have to play Russian roulette with your career prospects/internal organs, in full view of your entire office.' Picture: PA - Credit: PA

I don't think any good has ever come from the Christmas 'works do', certainly not in my experience.

Mixing work tensions and stress, egged on by your boss's credit card stuck behind the bar, is often a recipe for hideous disaster.

As a junior working on a glossy magazine in London back in the nineties, I rewrote the textbook in how not to behave at the Christmas party.

I was then sick on that textbook.

My first office party was free drinks all night and so I instantly ordered six bottles of beer, thinking that at some point they might run out.

I had been a student, three months previously. I was young and foolish and something deep within my addled brain, wanted to make an impression.

That first Christmas party ended up with me standing on a wobbly chair, wearing a comedy Scottish hat with tufts of ginger hair attached, while belting out a popular nautical anthem made famous by Sir Rod Stewart.

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I certainly made my mark, as anyone who saw the Africa map of red wine down the groin of my chinos, can attest.

It wasn't a wise move.

Then, as I got older, I became the boss and that wasn't any fun at all.

First off, you had to pay for the booze – nowhere near as great as rinsing somebody else's plastic – plus any work-place gripe was suddenly staring me right in the face as the staff started to turn, becoming steadily more revolting as my credit card bill climbed.

As the boss, I had to keep my calm, try to pay attention to the drunken spittle in my ear, before eventually paying for the damage to the pub furniture after.

I don't want to get on a downer about this, but you need to be aware of the very real dangers if you are to get anything out of the works do.

Booze-fuelled 'banter' with co-workers (got a bit American there) can have long-lasting repercussions.

I can still recall telling my editor that I was going to take his job – I still wince at this – during that first works do, shortly before falling into a yucca.

As he tried to lift me up, I apparently said: 'Thank you, garcon!' We never saw eye to eye from that moment on, so bear these tips in mind, before you start committing your career to the dustbin.

Do… take it easy, especially when it's free booze.

You don't have to drink half a hot tub of Old Murphy's Mental Leopard in the first half-hour. If it's a free bar, start slow.

Plus, if you're trying to impress a member of the opposite sex, there's nothing less appealing than seeing someone drinking like the world's about to end.

I would also avoid starting the evening on wine, as this inevitably (always) ends in tears.

Don't… treat an older member of the team to a sexy 'secret Santa' gift from the strange shop near the Maddermarket.

Trust me on this.

Do… compliment people. Even if you really don't mean it, do it. It works wonders.

Don't… corner the boss. Just don't.

If he/she is looking for a competent deputy, then witnessing you sicking up a rum and Coke onto your knees, while your eyes bulge like pickled eggs, isn't going to curry much favour.

Do… dance. That's right.

You can't get into too much trouble while dancing and it also gets you out of those irritating, work-related rants that usually start up at about 9.30pm.

'You know what you should do… yeah? Hic. Yeah, you know what you should do… yeah? If I was the boss…'

Don't… do shots.

Just because you're the 'shotmeister general' with your mates at the weekends, doesn't mean you have to play Russian roulette with your career prospects/internal organs, in full view of your entire office.

Once shots are introduced, there's no going back.

This is a one-way express train into the never-ending darkness of the human soul.

Do… book a cab home.

If a party is likely to go on till 2am, book a taxi for 11.30pm at the latest.

Those final two and a half hours (the red zone) is going to be the bit you'll want to miss.

The red zone will involve lots of walking around town dodging puddles of piddle and getting refused entry to places you don't really want to go and waiting for hours to get served and ultimately failing to get a cab home. Usually, someone ends up crying during these final few hours.

Don't be that blubbing muppet.

Get out while you're ahead.

Don't… hide someone's coat inside a piano or knock that ice-sculpted heron to the floor.

Don't be that person.

And if it's an office-based party, I can assure you that people are rarely impressed by photocopied A4 sheets of your anatomy.

And finally, don't… whatever you do, sing any of Rod Stewart's oeuvre while covered in shiraz and wearing a comedy hat.