SL’s Guide To Office Christmas Party Etiquette

SL’s Guide To Office Christmas Party Etiquette

It’s one of the biggest events in the workplace calendar, but the office Christmas party always divides opinion – with over half of Brits confessing they avoid the festivities completely for fear of committing a faux pas in front of their colleagues. Want to avoid making any mishaps this year? We asked the etiquette experts at Debrett’s for the do’s and don’ts to memorise (before the prosecco hits)…

DO: Embrace The Dress Code

Whether it’s Christmas knitwear at a local restaurant or black tie for an elegant gala, adopting the relevant protocol shows respect to the organiser. Make an effort to look smart and well-groomed, and ensure you adhere to the dress codes, if specified.

BUT DON’T: Forfeit Style

Whilst Christmas is the perfect opportunity to road-test outfits outside of your comfort zone, if squeezing into sequins really isn’t your thing, there’s no need to forfeit style for season-specific fashion. If you’re more minimalist monochrome for the rest of the year, a concession to Christmas might be as simple as a statement necklace or pair of earrings. Striking shoes are another stylish nod to party season, and you might swap your usual practical handbag for an eye-catching clutch or evening bag.

DO: Pace Yourself

Spare a thought for your longer-term career prospects by pacing yourself, remembering to eat beforehand, steering clear of shots and alternating alcoholic drinks with water. No one wants to be the employee who forgets their drunken antics, but whom everyone else is talking about (and sniggering at) the next day, so don’t overdo it at the bar.

BUT DON’T: Take Yourself Too Seriously

Even though you’re with colleagues, there’s no need to corner your co-workers about the unfinished projects looming before the holiday. Instead, have fun – loosen up on the dancefloor or kick off the karaoke. Just remember it’s important to maintain your professional gloss at all times.

DO: Circulate & Socialise

The office party is the perfect place to impress and network – the barriers are down and there is the opportunity to talk to those hard-to-reach people – so use small talk as a pleasurable way of making contact and cementing relationships with your colleagues and clients. Keep it upbeat and general – ask about families, children and holidays; avoid money, politics and sex. And ensure you’re democratic in your mixing: this isn’t the place to schmooze your bosses and ignore your team.

BUT DON’T: Partake In Gossip

The proximity of office life is a breeding ground for gossip, but don’t spread rumours or confess sins. Remember that the invisible line dividing real friends and colleagues can become blurred after too much mulled wine.

DO: Keep Flirting Light

A little harmless flirting will oil the social wheels, but keep it light. Steer clear of mistletoe and dirty dancing. Keep good-night kisses innocent and aim to wake up alone. If romance is on the cards, take it off-site.

DON’T: Leave Early

This isn’t the time of year to skulk moodily in corners and leave early. The only exception? If things start feeling dangerously fuzzy, call it a night. If you feel the drink is taking its toll, heed the warning signs and hail a taxi before any late-night lasciviousness or boisterousness comes back to haunt you.

DO: Remember The Golden Rule

If a colleague is looking a little the worse for wear, resist the temptation to immortalise the moment with your smartphone and instead find them some water and food (and a taxi if necessary).

AND DEFINITELY DON’T: Show Up Late The Next Day

Unless you’ve been given permission to do so. The day after still counts, so be at your desk on time and make sure your work doesn’t suffer. Crawling in hung over and late (or worse, pulling a sickie) is unforgivably unprofessional.
For more etiquette information and advice, visit

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