It’s all part and parcel of being in the workplace. When you have started your part time job, that time of year is going to come where festivities take over, someone will organise ‘the Christmas do’ or other celebration, and you’ll be invited. While this article is not intended to scare the pants off you, any social get together arranged by work can come with pitfalls that can have repercussions a long way into the future. This article is just a few tips to help you avoid any of those potential hiccups that can undo all your hard work in the workplace.

Because, these last few months, you have been working really hard and have settled into your part time role very well. You’ve made good progress, attended courses and even gained some extra qualifications that can help you develop your career further. At your regular appraisals, your superiors have said they are pleased with your progress and are really happy with the contribution you are making to the team. You’ve performed above and beyond the call of duty as a part time member of staff and are taking your role really seriously. This has not gone unnoticed by your boss and other superiors so, of course, you have every right to feel very pleased with yourself. Working part time has been more rewarding for you than you could ever imagine.

How fantastic that it is now celebration time, your boss is throwing a party for everyone. It might be the Christmas do or it might be the end of the financial year, for example. Whatever the reason for this get together is, the management team are doing this because it’s good for staff morale and they want to say a big thank you to everyone for all their hard work.

Is this the time where you can let go and let your hair down and really enjoy the party in your own way? Well, this is where we just want to stop you in your tracks and give you a few things to think about before you go charging off to that party.

What If I Don’t Want To Go To The Work’s Do?

Yes, not all of us handle the idea of a big social event with relish and maybe the last thing you want to be doing is socialising with your work mates and your boss. There could be lots of reasons for this:

  • Maybe you have a track record at social events like this and it’s a track record you would rather not display to your new workmates. It could be that you think you’ve made an idiot of yourself at previous parties and you just don’t trust yourself not to make the same mistake again. Not going to the party at all seems the easiest option.
  • Maybe your work’s do is being held at a difficult to reach place and it’s going to be troublesome to get to and from the venue.
  • Maybe you just don’t like parties.
  • Maybe your home situation – perhaps you are a carer or a single parent, for example – mean you can’t go to the party on that particular night.

Well, there are solutions. As with all other aspects of part time jobs, the trick is not to think, “Oh, well I only work part time so it doesn’t matter if I don’t go to the party.” As we say in all our articles, part time jobs are not second best and shouldn’t be treated as such. You are a valued member of staff and, if your circumstances allow, you should be at the party.

Of course, if you really can’t attend because of your situation at home, people are going to understand that. If you are working for a large, corporate company and your party is a huge get together of different branches, then chances are you won’t be conspicuous by your absence – especially if other workmates have said they are unable to attend, too, because of the location of the venue, for example.

But let’s assume you either can’t get out of going to the work’s do or you are loving the idea of a party. Here are some tips that might keep you out of potential trouble:

Does your workplace have a written policy for appropriate behaviour at social events?

Even though it’s a party or social gathering and the situation might be more relaxed, you’re still at work, really. Some workplaces may have a written policy about social events and if there is one in your workplace, be sure to read it, at least to give yourself a rough idea of what is expected from you. This is especially important if you are new in your part time job. Your new workmates should be able to give you some pointers, too.

Have you found out about the work’s do dress code?

Like with choosing what to wear so that you are surviving your first day in your part time job, what you choose to wear at the work’s do can be important. Find out from workmates and from your superiors beforehand what the dress code is. Are you going to a casual get together where casual clothes will be the norm, or is it top hat and tails and ballroom dresses? The main situation here is that you want to blend in by wearing similar styles to everyone else. After all your hard work in your part time job, the last thing you want is to be sneakily pointed out as the person who wore the sleek party dress to the casual dinner.

And, if you are already feeling apprehensive about attending a work’s do, you’re going to feel much more at ease if you arrive knowing you’re at leased in similar attire to everyone else. You don’t want to be the person everyone is talking about and ‘having a laugh’ about, just because you showed up in the wrong clothes.

Arrive to the work’s do on time

Whether it’s the office Christmas party or an employee awards ceremony arriving on time is important in two ways. This is going to reflect well on you in your part time job because this could be the time when the formalities are done such as speeches or awarding of prizes. You may even be the person winning a prize.

The other reason for arriving on time is if you don’t really want to stay out too late at the party, it will make it much easier to slip away early before the party gets into full swing. You’ve been present at the important part and now you can make your excuses.

Give yourself an alcohol limit at the work’s do

You know what you are like when you are drunk. Are you a happy drunk, a sad drunk, do you stagger around and fall over…are you often sick? This is the time to be be realistic with yourself. Some people even get violent when they are drunk. If this is you, give yourself a strict limit – and if you are someone who can’t stop drinking once you start, maybe even stay off the drink altogether.

Once you’ve had a few drinks, that false confidence can lead to things as innocent as silly dancing but it can also lead to ‘beer goggles’ and suddenly deciding your boss is quite attractive. You don’t want to be undoing all your good work at your new part time job by becoming the subject of everyone’s gossip just because of one throwaway moment.

For some office parties or other social get togethers, it might be that partners are invited. If this is the case, and if you know you and your partner tend to have a good old argument after a few drinks, then this is another good reason to limit the alcohol or leave it alone, altogether. No one wants to see you airing your dirty washing in public and, again, this will not be an incident that will be forgotten about right after the party finishes. Don’t be the topic of conversation at work for the months ahead.

Of course, you can still have a good time at the office Christmas party. A few tips:

  • Maybe you could put yourself forward as the designated driver for the evening. That means you won’t be able to drink and you’ll be Mr or Mrs Popular because you can give some of your workmates a lift to and from the party venue.
  • If you are not driving and have decided to have a drink eat before you leave for the party, just in case there is no food that you like when you arrive. At least then you’ve eaten something and you have a lining on your stomach.
  • Alternate your drinks between alcohol and water. It can slow down your alcohol intake and help to keep you more sober.

Resist the urge to tell the truth – It could be the alcohol talking

As with the point above, alcohol can give you false confidence and give you an urge to tell people what you really think. If you’ve had a bit of a gripe with someone in the office or in your workplace since you started to work part time, now is not the time to get all of that off your chest – however much you are feeling the urge to do so. If you have had a bit to drink and that urge is happening to you, stop and question yourself. Is, what seems like a great idea right now, really going to benefit you in the future? Remember, you’re going to need to be able to face these people on your return to work.

Don’t put photos online late at night

Remember a previous article we wrote: Why Did I Put That On Facebook? The work’s do is a perfect example where you do not want to be waking up in the morning with that horrible feeling inside where you know you were uploading photos to Facebook at the party the night before. It could be embarrassing pictures of yourself or, even worse, it could be embarrassing photos of some of your workmates or your boss. What seems like hilarious good fun on the night doesn’t necessarily carry over to the following days and weeks.

Remember, your work’s do is still work. Anything too embarrassing that shows up on your Facebook account in public could see you facing disciplinary proceedings or, even worse, you could lose your part time job that you have worked so hard to secure.

Leave before the end before it gets too out of hand

How lovely it would be to be able to go to work the day after the Christmas party or other social get together and go into the office knowing you did nothing wrong. If you are worried about being the topic of everyone’s post-party conversations when you return to your part time job, you could make sure you leave the party early so that that doesn’t happen.

There are lots of valid reasons you could give for leaving early. Maybe your partner needs to pick you up early because they need to go to work early the following day. Perhaps you have to be back to babysit. And if you really can’t come up with a good reason to make your exit before the real drinking begins, you could always get a friend to call you with ‘an emergency.’ You then need to leave to go and help your friend out.

The work’s do is not all doom & gloom!

Yes, you would be forgiven for thinking the office Christmas party and other social gatherings to do with part time jobs are events to avoid like the plague. Of course that is not the case. Everything above is just a list of the possible pitfalls and how you can best avoid them. And if everything goes well:

  • Behave in the appropriate way and the office party can be a great place to let your hair down and also get to know your work colleagues and bosses better. You are in a more relaxed environment, away from the workplace and your workmates and superiors are likely to be feeling more relaxed, too. You will probably see a whole new side to some people and even maybe discover some people you thought were a bit quiet and boring have a completely different personality outside of work. These events are a great way to get to know more about other people’s interests apart from what they just do at work all day.
  • Social gatherings give you the opportunity to network. If your are working part time, you might not see other colleagues if they work different shifts to you. Network with them as well as superiors. If you are using your part time job as a stepping stone to further your career, the Christmas do or quarterly social get together could be the perfect time to make management aware of this.
  • Depending on where your part time job is and how kind your boss is, some companies pay for the staff Christmas party and other social events. This is the time to make the most of company generosity. Free food and drink all night – that’s got to be worth a little bit of your time. Some companies even allow partners to these events and pay for a stopover in a hotel. If that’s the case, this your ideal opportunity to enjoy a night away with your partner.

In conclusion, follow our tips, play your cards right at the work’s do and, not only do you get to listen to the gossip about what other people have done the night before, you could well have gained yourself a promotion within your part time job.