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Don’t dance, or – even worse – have sex with a colleague; do mix your drinks, though, advises a partner at a top London law firm writing anonymously for Legal Cheek

The advent signs give warning of the great office event. Packed pubs and restaurants with large tables of diners looking uneasy in paper hats. Highly coloured regurgitations litter the pavement at regular intervals – stark testimony of only one of “the things that can go wrong”. Over the years I have learnt a few tips in respect of how to get through the event – and its aftermath – with as little pain as possible.

Alcohol, that great disinhibitor, is of course the culprit. I have never been to a temperance society’s Christmas party, but I would be reasonably confident that shenanigans are at a minimum.

Alcohol is, of course, the great leveller as well. And everyone in the office can make a fool of themselves at an office party. Here are a few tips to help you through the evening and afterwards:

1. Try to remember that eating on an empty stomach during Christmas party season is…a faint possibility. Hold this thought with the competing knowledge that to consume one’s body weight in a huge mixture of drinks prior to eating can have a deleterious effect.

2. Mixing of drinks at Christmas is as traditional as Father Christmas himself. 80% of the UK’s Baileys is consumed in the fortnight before 25 December. Choosing a drink merely by its colour can be an error, particularly in the spirits department. And unless you have been in training for a good long period working through the spirits – as one works with the weights in the gym – this colour-based approach can cause problems. In training, start with colourless, and then move through the spectrum (Campari – blackcurrant cordial).

3. Inappropriate behaviour on the dance floor can run riot later. How many people have gone to bed with Janet Jackson to wake up next to Michael Jackson? (Obviously not now as it would in itself be both sick and inappropriate.) A tip here is to pick someone in the office who you know you find unattractive. At the stage of the evening when you find them very attractive it is time to go home (not with them).

4. Assessing how you are actually feeling can be a problem. A friend acquired from a paint shop a piece of plastic card from a colour palette which represented the approximate shade of his face when in a normal state of sobriety and repose. Throughout the evening he would visit the lavatory to check on what he called “the traffic light effect” on his face against the pink card.

In this case the meaning of the traffic lights was reversed. Red simply indicated that he was probably enjoying himself. Amber was the start of the beginning of the decline, although already it might be, like the changing of the traffic light itself, an inevitable succession. Green was not “go” but very definitely “stop”.

5. Bear in mind that 90% of the people in the room will have cameras on their mobile phones, and some who are not partners will even be able to work them. What is seen on the dance floor will be used against you subsequently.

6. Learn how to come to terms with “UDIs” (Unexplained Drinking Injuries). These are usually bruises or scratches in curious places (back of knees, end of nose, one toe only on each foot), and some may be not as serious as initially thought. Another friend woke up after the office party with no feeling in his legs. This, he assumed, was the worst UDI he had ever had. But on closer examination he discovered that at some stage during the evening he had managed to insert both legs down only one leg of his underpants and cut off the flow of blood.

Kingsley Amis’s famous description of a hangover, “his mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum”, is about right. I find groaning histrionically while clutching one’s head works well, especially with getting a seat on the train the following morning.

May your Christmas party be as much fun as ever.

The writer is a partner at a leading London law firm. To read more from him, click here

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