Christmas party season is swiftly edging in and event planning is well underway. You start guessing which exciting venue HR has picked out for the bash this year. Wherever it might be, there is ONE place no-one wants to get to – embarrassville!
New findings from event experts, Smart Parties, reveals that the majority of us wince when we think about what went down at the office Christmas party.
Whether you’ve made a move on a colleague, flashed your knickers, insulted your teammate, swapped your clothes for a few pieces of tinsel or filled the finance guy’s shoes with eggnog, Lauren Faraday, Events Manager from Smart Parties, can assure you you’re not alone.
Lauren has hosted thousands of guests over the years and seen more than her fair share of people’s embarrassing moments. Here, she shares her top tips to get you well on your way back from cringe town, so you can enjoy the party with your colleagues safe in the knowledge you can comfortably face everyone in the office the next morning.
Don’t call in sick, face the Christmas music
Mooning your teammates, mocking your CEO during his speech, or performing an ear-piercing Bridget Jones style sing-song are all good enough reasons to want to stay home the day after the office festive bash. But sticking your head in the sand by calling in sick is the ultimate show of shame which will make your embarrassment even more pronounced. Also, by not coming in, you’d be fuelling the build-up of people waiting to tease you when you make your inevitable entrance two days later.
Lauren adds: “Also, don’t forget, you won’t be the only one feeling like the village idiot. By calling in sick you’d just be making it easier for everyone else to divert attention away from their own embarrassing antics by talking about you all day.”
Don’t try to rationalise your behaviour
It’s safe to assume you’ve been on the tipple a little too much if you got yourself to the point of embarrassment. Whether you were mouthing off to someone, sobbing in a corner, or throwing chairs around, you know it wasn’t your normal behaviour so there’s really no point trying to justify or explain your antics to yourself. No need to beat yourself up over spilt milk (or broken furniture!). It was a silly, over-the-top and indeed fun night out and now you’ll just have to accept that you did what you did and hopefully not get yourself into the same situation next year.
Put your game face on
Coming in still worse for wear will not only make your workday feel like the longest one in history, but will also draw attention to how ‘off’ you were the night before. If the weight of embarrassment isn’t enough, feeling horrendous will take you to rock bottom. Lauren recommends you try every trick in the book to help yourself recover. Knock back a strong coffee, eat a dry breakfast if you can stomach it, wash your face again and again, take two showers, whatever it takes (within reason) to draw a psychological line in the sand between making a spectacle of yourself at the party and firing up your computer just hours later.
Sorry, am sorry. Text a light and witty apology before arriving at the office
If you managed to offend someone with what at the time seemed like a funny, helpful or simply honest comment in your less than stable state, fix it with a sincere but witty text apology before facing them in person. Use lots of emojis to add cutesiness to your message. A text will help you find the right words in a controlled manner. A touch of humour to explain that you obviously weren’t thinking straight and didn’t mean a word of it will help to lighten the load.
When you see each other in the office soon after the text, the ice will already have been broken and there should be less intensity, but you will still need to make an apology in person if you’re ever to live it down!
If the damage is serious, forget the wit
There’s a fine line between a silly yet offensive comment and downright unacceptable behaviour. Flirting with the CEO’s spouse, airing your grievances about your boss right to their face, or worse still, sending a damaging email to a client, are all going to land you in very hot water. This level of embarrassment goes far beyond just a cringe and will need a genuine heartfelt apology, in person, no use of humour, and probably several times over. You might also consider writing a more formal letter of apology. If you’ve managed to keep your job, you will need to put in every effort to make up for your behaviour and get yourself back in the good books, like putting in extra hours, volunteering for random office jobs you otherwise wouldn’t, coming in that little bit earlier, making more rounds of tea, and just being all round nicer for as long as possible… or at least until the Christmas decorations come down in January!
Any brilliant Christmas party worth its salt will no doubt be chronicled on social media, warts and all. In fact, the more warts, the better the posts, right? You know you’re guilty and you know you’re going to be trolled by your colleagues so clear it all. The topless shots, the selfie with your legs wrapped around a pillar, they all have to go. Lauren also suggests you get everyone else to untag you from their posts too. Immediately!
Kiss and tell no-one
So you got yourself into a pickle with a colleague… you had a cheeky snog with someone behind the Christmas tree and tried your creepy come-on lines with virtually everyone else. Awks? Oh yes. But it’s not the end of the world. Lots of people get it on at the office bash and live to tell the tale, albeit creating brilliant gossip fodder for weeks if you’re caught. When you spend 5 days out of a 7-day week with the same people, these things can happen. It’s no biggie. Talk to them the day after and try to laugh it off with them so there’s no ongoing tension.
Misjudging a romantic moment and getting rejected
No matter how hardcore you may be, there’s one sure-fire way to feel the sting of regret at the office party. Cringe levels skyrocket when you’ve made the ultimate faux pas – leaning in for a kiss with someone majorly off limits or simply not interested and getting rejected. Ouch!
Maybe you misunderstood when your boss called you over for a chat while standing under the mistletoe? Perhaps they were already in a relationship, or just not that into you? The emotional aftermath in the light of the next day can be truly mortifying.
In a situation like this, Lauren advises, apologise profusely and sincerely in person, explaining that it was a gross misjudgement fuelled by over-indulgence and something you wholeheartedly regret because you didn’t mean to make them feel uncomfortable. Ask for their forgiveness and understanding and if they would be OK with keeping it between yourselves so that it can boil over as quickly as possible.
Find other embarrassed colleagues and compare notes to take the edge off your own embarrassment
Help others in a similar situation feel more at ease by sharing anecdotes and helping to ease each other’s anxieties. Perhaps you were doing something silly together so you can plan a group apology to share the load. You may even find that your perception of what you think you did wasn’t actually as bad once you’ve talked through things together and shed light on certain aspects of the party. Safety in numbers and all that.
It’s perfectly OK for introverts to step into the light
Embarrassment is in the eye of the beholder. Some have thicker skin than others. For introverts, even the smallest out of character antics may be mortifying. Your teammates know you as the well-mannered quiet one who chews on pens and just gets stuff done. Everyone likes you and trusts you. Then like a bolt from the blue, after a couple of tequilas, you send shockwaves through the entire party with a loud and proud karaoke rendition of ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen. Not the worst thing to happen at a Christmas bash, Lauren concedes, but for you it’s a cringeworthy memory you wish never happened. Well, here’s the good news. It’s actually very endearing. Everyone loves to see their teammates let their hair down and have fun. So, as you rightfully pointed out to the entire company, let it go.