The Workingmums’ guide to office Christmas parties

It’s the time of year of forced festivity and general partying. For some parents, it is a time of dread, when they have no option but to spend even more time than usual with their colleagues and look like they are enjoying it. For others, it is the only social outing they are likely to get in the next six months without children. Whatever your take on the big office Christmas party debate, here are some light-hearted tips to get you through the event and its potential aftermath.

It’s the time of year of forced festivity and general partying. For some parents, it is a time of dread, when they have no option but to spend even more time than usual with their colleagues and look like they are enjoying it. For others, it is the only social outing they are likely to get in the next six months without children. Whatever your take on the big office Christmas party debate, here are some light-hearted tips to get you through the event and its potential aftermath.

1. Remember at all times that this is not in any sense a real party. This is more like a meeting with alcohol thrown in. Do not overindulge. Particularly do not overindulge and approach the boss about pay rises, flexible working or the company’s gender pay gap.

2. Cover your back: if you need to leave early make sure you socialise as much as possible beforehand so that everyone will remember you were there [ensure, however, that this is not for the wrong reasons – see 1] and won’t notice as you slip off before Dancing Queen comes on.

3. If you have to leave early, plan ahead and ensure you have low heels and are parked for a quick exit.

4. Do, however, talk to senior managers if you can. It could be your one chance to get them in a social situation. Make small talk about transport issues [everyone has a transport story in them, particularly in the last few weeks]. Do not talk about your best business ideas. They may have ignored no. 1 and will not remember them.

5. Dress up, but don’t overdo it. You are at work even if the setting is a nightclub with a free bar. People are keen to have someone to gossip about the next day. Traditionally this is the role of younger members of staff. Do not let it be you in your all in one lycra jumpsuit with strategically attached tassles.

6. Ensure your babysitter can contact you at all times, but don’t keep ringing them. This is your chance to enjoy yourself without children [but not too much – see 1. Also, bear in mind that your party could also clash with a week of Nativity plays. These are not much fun with a hangover, although strangely they tend to make more sense].

7. Bring some freebies back for the kids. They will encourage you to go out more as a result.

8. Do not appear to be too sober. It’s a fine line to tread, but no-one trusts colleagues who look as if they will remember every drunken word they uttered.

9. Toilets are not a good place to make secret calls to the babysitter. They tend to have an echo effect which is particularly not good if your boss is in the cubicle next door.

10. Remember that now is not the time to put your assertiveness training into action. Keep low key on all fronts, but try to enjoy yourself. It’s a difficult act to pull off, but you are a working mum, highly trained in the diplomatic arts [dealing with sibling rivalry on an ongoing basis beats tackling any international peace process]. If anyone can deal with office party politics it’s you. Remember office parties are a synch compared to a party of five year olds on a lemonade high.

 





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