Drunk at the Office Christmas Party: A Case Study

The office Christmas party is a crazy phenomenon. There’s often free booze, exciting entertainment and the chance to get something for nothing after a hard years work, so it comes as no surprise to know that all sorts of things can go wrong.

The overriding problem seems to be that we forget that, to all intents and purposes, we are actually still at work. Even if you are wearing your best party frock, even if it’s on a Friday night and even if you’ve been told by the management to ‘let your hair down’, the truth is, you really shouldn’t.

Lindsey Overdoes it at the Christmas Party

Unfortunately Lindsey Mellor, 29, didn’t realise this and acted rather inappropriately.

She told us, “It was my first Christmas party at the recruitment agency where I worked and I had been told that they make a real effort for the Christmas party. And they did!

There was a free bar all night with champagne and cocktails, red and white wine on the tables with the meal and all sorts of shots going on.”

A Reputation for Hosting a Big Party

The recruitment agency Christmas party where Lindsey worked had a reputation for pushing the boat out, with a theme each year and unlimited free drinks.

The party was held on a Friday night and the employees were given time off in the afternoon to get dressed up for the occasion.

Lindsey continued, “It was a really big deal. Most of the teams had hit their December targets so there was plenty of excitement going round. There was a real feeling of being rewarded for the year.

The company even booked a couple of rooms at a posh hotel near the venue so the girls would have somewhere to get ready.”

This is where the plan starts to slip up – the office Christmas party started feeling like a regular night out with the girls, a night where you can do whatever you like and it won’t affect your job (even if it might affect other things, but that’s a different matter.)

But that is not the case with an office christmas party. It’s best to think of it as an extension of your working day, rather than getting carried away with the thought that it’s a free night out.

The confusion comes when it seems as though you are being encouraged to drink lots of alcohol, which, quite understandably, makes you think that your employers don’t mind if you get drunk.

Enjoying the Free Bar

Lindsey explained, “I made the mistake of getting stuck into the free bar. I suppose if I was better able to handle my drinks it wouldn’t have been so bad, but I had a couple of glasses of champagne when I arrived and, as I hadn’t eaten and the meal was later, it went straight to my head.

We had wine with the meal and the food was terrible, so I didn’t eat much at all. Pretty soon I was dancing like a crazy person and, rather embarrassingly, I told my team leader that I had a bit of a crush on him!”

Lindsey found, to her cost, that you are not supposed to get drunk at the office Christmas party. You need to tread the fine line between looking like a party pooper and not joining in the fun, with acting as though you are out with your friends.

The best advice is to take some snacks with you so you have something to eat before you start drinking (some dried fruit or a cereal bar is fine) and then drink slowly.

By all means enjoy the free champagne but have plenty of water too – then add fizzy water to a glass of wine and it will last through the night.

Further Reading

Can I be forced to work Christmas Day? A guide looking at employee rights to time off at Christmas.

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