Don’t become the office legend at the Christmas party

by | Dec 12, 2017

The reputation as the office legend is a dubious honour

The work Christmas party is awaited with much anticipation, but it is still a work event; be careful not to become the office legend.

That reputation is rarely acquired for the right reasons.  Although some companies are scaling back in light of recent sexual harassment complaints, this week will see more office parties than any other in the working year. Whether it’s a big bash at a fancy venue, or a few drinks at the local bar, many workplaces take some time out to celebrate the festive season. The combination of a free bar, paid for by the boss, and a communal letting down of hair can lead to some unfortunate consequences. As one old friend, a now retired SVP HR says:  “Nothing good comes out of a bar at 0300 a.m.”

Office Legend


Each event usually has at least one memorable faux pas, with the offender having to do the walk of shame the day after. No one wants to earn the reputation as that office party legend, etched in the annals of corporate folklore and above all in everyone’s memories.

Jaclyn a Marketing Manager at a pharmaceutical company recalls how a senior manager was caught in flagrante on CCTV cameras by security, in the front seat of her Porsche. That was even before Fifty Shades of Grey was a thought in the author’s head. Her walk of shame was very short. She was requested not to return to work.

Martin remembers when a colleague, several glasses for the worse, shared her lack of confidence with the Board’s strategy with….. the President of the Board.

Melissa recalls a female colleague having a wardrobe malfunction and another throwing-up in the bushes of the restaurant. Tables, shots and dancing were mentioned in the same sentence. Never a good combo.

Unsure of how you come across at work? Take our Executive Presence Assessment to find out what your personal development needs are for 2018.


  • Eat before you go –  with large groups service tends to be slower, so it’s easy to consume more aperitifs than usual. If the “do” is after work, eat a good lunch.
  • Keep track of your refills – it’s easy to lose count of the refills when waiters come around topping up your glass. Try and estimate!
  • Drink lots of water  – alternate alcoholic drinks with water.
  • Network with senior people early – while your speech is clear and your thoughts are lucid. And vice versa.
  • Avoid the mistletoe – Really. Like a communicable disease. You might have had a secret crush on a colleague all year, but guess what….that’s exactly how it should stay. VERY secret. That would be one piece of office goss that would go viral.
  • Apply the 24 hour rule –  Absolutely no photos, tweets, Facebook posts or Instagrams until the following day. Then ask that critical question. What value would it add? The answer is almost always ….none.

Worth a read: Protect your voice in the party season

Don’t forget that there are still annoying double standards regarding mis-behaviour for women. Men are more likely to be forgiven more minor alcohol related indiscretions. If you walk into the office the following day and see smirks and sniggers, you know that something less than desirable has happened.

Get the facts. Then apologise. Profusely. To everyone. Immediately. This will never go away and pretending it didn’t happen or you can’t remember won’t work. If you really can’t remember anything at all, you were in worse shape than you thought.

Make sure your company is inclusive of everyone by taking part in our Managing Unconscious Bias Workshops.

Staff Writer: Career Contributor
3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Job Search, Career and Mentoring or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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