Surviving the office Christmas party
We're officially in the middle of the silly season, which means an onslaught of annoying Christmas songs, panicked present buying, crowded malls and, of course, Christmas work parties.
It's almost a tradition that someone must get a bit out of control at work parties, but I'm always determined it's not going to be me.
It can be incredibly tempting to blow off some pent-up steam and let loose - you've worked hard all year, right? - but you need to remember the wrong move can destroy your professional reputation in mere minutes.
So here are my best tips to make it through the work Christmas party unscathed.
They may sound pretty obvious, but I have heard and seen enough things to know they're not often stuck to.
1. Don't bitch or moan.
You've cornered the boss over the party pies and suddenly find yourself slyly asking him for a pay rise or complaining that your colleague has been slacking off. Stop.
It may seem like the work party is a good time to bring up all the grievances you've stored up over the year, but it's not an appropriate forum. Keep the chat light-hearted.
2. Don't dip the pen in the company ink.
I know many relationships start at work, and that's fine, but I think there's a difference between a slow blooming romance and pashing some random colleague's face off under the mistletoe. Work party hookups are not OK.
A friend of mine has the most spectacular true story pertaining to this. A few years ago she was at her work party - a small barbecue affair at the boss's house - when she spotted a rather attractive young guy.
Long story short, the night progressed and he asked her to go to bed with him. To her shock, instead of leading her to a taxi, he took her down the hall. The cute guy was - wait for it - her boss' s son.
Cue next morning and she had to sneak out the window because her boss and his wife were in the kitchen eating breakfast. Awkward ...
3. Keep all your clothes on, all night.
We all know strange things sometimes happen when you go out. Someone ends up doing a striptease on the table. Someone does a browneye out the taxi window. Clothes invariably get lost.
If you don't want to wake up the next morning and realise all your workmates have seen your goodies, just try to make sure it's not you shedding your gear.
4. Be a good spouse.
It can be especially tempting to go a bit crazy if you're at your partner's work do rather than your own. You don't know these people, so does it matter what they think of you? Yes.
Behaving inappropriately - eg, telling your boyfriend's boss that your boyfriend was actually hungover last week instead of sick - could have terrible repercussions for both your relationship and your significant other's future employment.
You may not have to see these people again but your loved one does. Remember it.
5. Don't get too drunk.
It's a fact of life - free drinks taste better. Don't ask me why, they just do. It can be especially hard to resist getting drunk when the usually stingy finance department is suddenly shouting tequila shots, but try your best.
Because, basically, it all comes down to this one rule. If you're relatively sober, you're less likely to think points 1 through 4 are a good idea.
Alcohol loosens lips, makes that weird guy from IT look super-attractive and makes you think terrible things are a really, really, really great idea.
I'm not suggesting you sit in the corner silently sipping lemonade all night, but you also don't want to be known forever as the girl who threw up in the pot plant.
Let's all try to ensure we still have jobs come the new year.
Have you ever had a Christmas party disaster? What are your best tips for surviving the annual work do?