Whether it’s dodgy dance moves, over-doing the free booze or flirting with a colleague, the office Christmas party can often result in more serious consequences than just a nasty hangover. And with the festive season now in full swing, here’s a timely reminder of those essential office party dos and don’ts.

Attendance is compulsory

There’s no getting out of it! Putting in an appearance at the office party is an absolute must. You don’t want to come across as being a party pooper or worse still not a team player. And so even if the thought of hanging out with your colleagues after work fills you with horror, it’s important you make the effort. And don’t slink off home at the earliest opportunity either! You never know, you may even enjoy yourself and spending time with colleagues outside the office is, in fact, good for team morale.

Watch your drinking

Tempting though it may be to wade in wholeheartedly to the free food and drink, the most important etiquette rule is not to overdo the drink. Know your limit and stick to it. It may be a more relaxed environment than the workplace, but the office party is still a work event. And even if your boss is getting hammered, it doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable for you to do the same.

Stay away from office gossip

Gossiping about colleagues when there’s alcohol involved is never a good idea. Instead keep the conversation on a general level with safe topics like holiday plans, children and families. And definitely don’t let your tongue run away with you and start confessing your sins to a workmate!

Make sure you mingle

Rather than simply sticking with your own team, see the office party as an opportunity to mix with colleagues in other departments. A social situation is a great way to make connections with influential people that may be useful back in the office. So get out there and mingle with as many different people as possible.

Try not to hog people

And if you do find yourself engaged in conversation with say the CEO, don’t make the mistake of sticking with them the entire evening! Chances are they want to talk to other people, just as others want to talk to them. Be mindful of the length of your conversation – 10 to 15 minutes with one person is long enough.

Always have one hand free for a handshake

Shaking hands with people when you first meet them is an important part of social etiquette. Make sure then that you always have a hand free; don’t overload yourself with a glass in one hand and a plate in the other. And do keep your glass in your left hand so that your right one is free for that all important handshake.

The office party should be a fun evening and a chance to relax with colleagues. Use these dos and don’ts to make sure that for you, it doesn’t become a minefield of social faux pas.