Yes, it’s acceptable to loosen up a little with some bubbly or one or two of those tempting cocktails, but don’t be tempted to neck as many as possible in a short time. Pace yourself and intersperse the alcoholic drinks with one or two fruit juices or glasses of water. Shots and drinking games might seem like harmless fun to start with, but once a group gets going it only takes two or three forfeits to lose all control – and when that goes so does your judgment.
When you hear the phrase ‘Mutton dressed as lamb’ it’s best if the subject of the conversation isn’t you, so by all means glam up but don’t go completely out of character. If you try on a dress and have the feeling ‘it’s not really me’ then don’t stray too far out of your comfort zone. Likewise with make-up and accessories. You can still be yourself and make a visual impact, but make sure the reaction is a ‘wow!’ rather than a snigger.
Should I go or should I stay?
Even if you don’t have a particularly good relationship with your boss or some of your colleagues, it’s always worth going. Nobody likes a party pooper, so just roll up, find someone you don’t normally chat to in the normal course of a working week, and find out something new about your colleagues. Be a good listener, because by being interested in other people you become interesting to them. The only bored people are boring people.
Try not to talk ‘shop’ and definitely don’t get drawn into making personal observations about your boss or colleagues. Whatever you say may be taken down and used against you, particularly if you are mis-quoted and misunderstandings occur. Avoid spending the evening moaning about the company you work for or the office you work in. A positive attitude will make you much more pleasant company.
Gimme a rise
The office ‘do’ is definitely not the occasion to discuss working conditions and it is not the time to butter up the boss by being flirty. Yes, have fun and be nice, but go no further. You’ll only feel awkward when you’re back in a work situation and your working relationship can only change for the worse if your boss either feels embarrassed or that they have in some way been compromised in the sight of their team.
Arrange a lift home, either with a friend or family member who’ll be good enough to pick you up, or pre-book a taxi. When you get home drink some water (if you’ve had a few bevvies) and set the alarm. Don’t skip work the next day. You won’t be the only one feeling a bit ropy and if the managers have any sense they’ll have authorised a slightly later start time if the office is opening the next day.