Nobody wants to be That Person. You know, the one who can’t look anyone in the eye the day after the office Holiday Party. Even though your office shindig is mandatory fun time, you may not want to let loose quite as loosely as you would at the club with your besties.
Bad impressions last the longest. If you make an ass of yourself, you’ll never live it down no matter how awesome you are at your job when you’re on your best behavior.
Once the party is over, your co-partiers become your co-workers again, so here’s how to have some fun and keep your work persona in tact.
Rule #1: Snooze on the booze
This rule is the foundation for all the rules to follow. You don’t want to give up control. Sipping a few cocktails is a great way to chill out your mind. But that cocktail’s best effect is also its worst. If you let the Hulk out to play, there’s no telling what he might do. And once your officemates have met the Hulk, he’ll follow you forever, especially the image of your professional acquaintances hoisting him into a cab at the end of the night. Picture it. It’s not pretty.
Rule #2: Easy on the Sleazy
The best boundary between your work self and your non-work self is your outfit. Save the tight, high-slit, low-cut, or form-fitting for the bachelor/ette party and just wear your regular work clothes.
Rule #3: Happy not Snappy
Even if you’ve only had one or two manageable drinks, the relaxed atmosphere can make you deceivingly brave, so if you’re unhappy with your job or don’t care for one of your co-workers, keep your mouth shut about it and stay positive. You don’t want to walk out the door and do a head slap because the snide comment you made about your boss is swiftly moving through the gossip mill in his or her general direction.
Rule #4: Keep it on the sly: don’t TMI
Your private life is your own business. Once your co-workers know your uncomfortable secrets, they can never un-know them. Don’t doom them to forever picture what your nose used to look like, or hear your mother’s embarrassing nickname every time they open up a conversation with you. Nobody deserves that.
Rule #5: Never twerk when you’re at work
This isn’t that town from Footloose. It’s okay to dance. Dancing is fun. But if you feel the urge to climb up on a table and shake your groove thang, it’s time to go home.
Rule #6: If your date is a no-no, just go solo
Who you bring to the party reflects back on you. You chose this person, after all, so if he or she is prone to risqué jokes or you are bringing this person at the last minute out of desperation, it’s better to act like a grown-up and go on your own (up).
Rule #7: Save your looks for the books
If you’ve been waiting for a long time to check out your crush in a non-work setting, remember, this is NOT a non-work setting. Even though the atmosphere is festive and the conversation is casual, you are still on company time, and your company’s anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies are still valid. You like your job, right? Well, making a move tonight may land you across the desk from an employment attorney.
Rule #8: If you do groove it, make sure they can’t prove it
Did you take some pictures on your phone that you just HAVE to share RIGHT NOW? Maybe don’t. In the professional light of day, that picture may not be so flattering, and once it’s online, it’s out of your control forever.
To sum up: stop after one, maybe two drinks. And if you would feel embarrassed if someone told the story of what you’re about to do, don’t do it. Work parties are fun, and it’s okay to have some fun, but when HR is watching, there is definitely such thing as too much fun.