Alas, it’s the time of year when you’re expected to dress up, exchange gifts, and get drunk after work with people you hardly know.

Perhaps the epitome of the awkward Christmas party is The Office’s episode, “The Christmas Party” where colleagues are forced into a game of Secret Santa before getting wasted on vodka.

The secret to all office Christmas parties is to be enthusiastic, but not too enthusiastic.

Costume parties

Yes, you may feel like your boss is making you relive the third grade where fairy costumes and spiderman face paint were normal activities. But there’s nothing worse than a party pooper who rocks up in a t-shirt and shorts and says he came as “himself”. Buy a plastic sword and wear a red bandanna, or make a cape out of a bed sheet. A little effort with your costume shows your fun and involved.

At the same time, probably don’t rock up covered in ‘blood’, holding a fake decapitated head. People might start to question your sanity.


In The Office, Michael (Steve Carell) buys 15 bottles of vodka for 20 people. This is what you would call too much alcohol. Sure, you may need a drink to get through the night without hitting that unbearable work acquaintance with a stapler. But if you get too drunk, you may end up flashing your boss or grinding with a table covered in your own vomit.

What your colleagues see, they can never un-see.

Don’t forget you will be resuming your professional relationship in just a few hours. Let loose but remember: this isn’t schoolies.


If you’re in one of those offices that force you to exchange gifts in a secret Santa, try not to expect too much. Chances are you will getting a coffee mug.

Still, it’s good to try get a little festive – even if the only thing you know about your assigned person is that they spend weird amounts of time in the bathroom. Try to find out some of their interests – it may even be a good way to turn a work acquaintance into a genuine friend.

Whatever you do, don’t get these:

  • Anything sexual; no moisturisers, massage oils, bridal shower style presents
  • Anything confessing your love for them; don’t be like Jim, who put way too much love in the teapot he gave to Pam
  • A gift voucher; try harder, pal.

Office parties can be a minefield of awkwardness. But if you lighten up and try to get to know your colleagues, it might actually be fun.

This article was brought to you by Real Changes, experts in cultivating teamwork in the office.

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