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Lottie Sharland4 Dec 2019
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The Assistant's Office Christmas Party Survival Guide

Office Christmas Party Survival Guide

Whether it’s a full-on evening shindig in a grand private venue, lunch in a fancy restaurant or just festive drinks in the pub – few events in the office calendar are more talked about and hyped up than the office Christmas party. As the new PA or EA we’ve all heard the stories of when Barbara from Accounts Payable had a bit too much sherry and passed out behind the photocopier, or when Luke from the Art Department decided the Christmas party was the ideal time to ask his boss for a raise, or even when Sarah and Paul found love…for all of an hour and then avoided each other for the rest of the year. We’ve listened, we’ve laughed along, and inside we’ve secretly prayed that when the party inevitably comes around, we manage to avoid embarrassment and a Luke, Barbara or Sarah and Paul situation never happens to us.

Now Christmas is here though and as an EA or PA it’s more than likely that you have either planned the office Christmas party, or at least had some part to play in ensuring it takes place. This is great – it means you know what’s going to happen and also that you have been able to essentially cater the event to your own tastes (the perks of being a PA!); but it also means that you have the added stress of everyone else’s expectations. As the party planner, the worry of ensuring everything goes well can easily dominate your evening and to stop this from ruining your night we’ve put together an EA Survival Guide for the office Christmas party. This is a list of things to do, and not do, to ensure you enjoy the party and don’t end up like Barbara, Luke, Sarah or Paul. While this is particularly relevant to EAs, Personal Assistants, Office Managers and people working in office support it’s also useful for anyone else who’s had a part to play in planning the event of the year.

• Double check everything a week in advance. This may sound early but in the excitement of Christmas it is easy to overlook minor details and the last thing you want is to find out you’ve missed someone off the seating plan, not booked the band or underordered on booze on the day of the Christmas party itself. Check, check and check again and ensure everyone else involved knows what’s happening and has checked it too, spreading the responsibility will ensure you feel in control rather than overwhelmed or burdened on the day.

• Eating is not cheating – on the day itself you’ll probably be running around madly doing last minute prep and it’s easy to forget to have lunch. If you do this, be prepared to not make it past 9pm. Here carb loading is key, make sure you grab a sandwich and ensure you have something in your stomach to help soak up the booze before you start drinking.

• Don’t pop the prosecco too early. As the party planner it’s easy to get into the party spirit earlier in the day that everyone else, which can often result in ending your evening before everyone else as well. While your colleagues are at their desks, as an EA it’s likely you’ll be already at the venue, putting up last minute decorations or sorting games with a few colleagues in tow. At this point it can feel very tempting to crack open the prosecco early and treat yourselves to a hard-earned glass (or 3) before everyone else arrives. Do this with caution, there will be plenty of drinks throughout the night and starting early will just mean you drink more. We suggest sticking to the apple juice and save the sparkling for when everyone else arrives.

• Everyone is responsible for their own good time. As an EA or PA it’s in your nature to be considerate and reactive to other people’s needs, it’s what makes you good at your job. However, remember that it’s your Christmas party too and while you might have planned the event it’s not your responsibility to make sure everyone else enjoys it. Your colleagues can get their own drinks, chat amongst themselves and generally know how to have a good time without your involvement. Concentrate on enjoying yourself without worrying about other people.

• Do mingle outside your team – while you don’t need to worry about other people’s enjoyment the Christmas party is a great time to get to know colleagues you might not have come into contact with as much. It’s tempting to stick with your work bestie but this will inevitably lead to getting drunk quicker so get out of your comfort zone and speak to people you don’t know so well. This can be great for career progression and is also a chance to make new friends. (Caveat – at all costs, avoid becoming as good friends as Sarah and Paul…)

• Don’t get drunk. “I’m so pleased I made the most of the free bar and got absolutely wasted at my Christmas party and totally embarrassed myself” – said no one ever. While the office Christmas party is a chance to let your hair down and socialise with your colleagues in a more relaxed environment remember they are your COLLEAGUES, what happens that evening will be remembered and talked about for years to come and the last thing you want is to be the butt of the jokes. Take it slow, drinks lots of water, or if you really can’t handle it avoid the booze altogether. It may sound boring but you have plenty of friends and family to party with and if your career is important to you it has to come first. If you always miss the elusive ‘happy tipsy’ stage of drinking and are worried you’ll fall headfirst into the ‘completely wasted, crying in the corner’ stage, it’s best to not risk it.

• If you do have one tipple too many though make sure you turn up at work the next day and laugh it off. It’s better avoided, and I can’t stress that enough, but if you do get drunk the best thing you can do is not take yourself too seriously and laugh about it. A hangover is no excuse to stay at home and a sore head won’t cut it when the next day’s work isn’t done. Everyone is in the same boat and your absence will be noted.

Remember – we’re always here to help! If you want any advice on anything related to your job as a PA or EA you can ask our Anderson Hoare community of assistants in our confidential LinkedIn group, AH Insider, or get in touch with one of our consultants who will be more than happy to chat. If you’d like to view our lives roles head to our job board.