A diverse group of employees wearing Santa hats and clinking champagne glasses at the office Christmas party.
Image: © Vasyl/Stock.adobe.com

Do I have to go to the office Christmas party?

26 Nov 2018

It might not even be December yet, but hands up who’s already got their office Christmas party invitation?

Many employees have admitted in more than one survey over the years that they would prefer to receive a bonus rather than attend the office Christmas party.

But still, the annual office party is a tradition and the fact of the matter is, it’s usually not as simple as swapping one for the other.

We’re still a while away from the festive season, but most offices will more than likely have booked their Christmas party by now and you’ll probably have already received the invitation. So, are you going?

Many people enjoy their office Christmas party and look forward to the invitation every year. However, if you’re reading this, you’re probably not one of them.

You’re probably here because you want someone to tell you it’s OK to skip the party and stay home. But you’re an adult who doesn’t need permission from us to skip it. If you really don’t want to go, you don’t have to. You can make your own decisions after all.

However, before you RSVP ‘no’ to your boss, let’s evaluate the situation.

Why don’t you want to go?

If you have your reasons for skipping out on the party and you want to leave it at that, you can. But there are usually bigger, underlying things at play that you might want to address.

Are you avoiding the Christmas party because you’re quite introverted, and a big party with your colleagues feels a bit overwhelming?

Maybe you dislike your colleagues or feel like it’s a bit of a toxic environment, and don’t want to spend any extra time with your fellow office workers than you need to.

Or perhaps it’s simply because you have far too much on in December already and you’re trying to be financially responsible, what with all those presents to buy.

Even if you still come to the decision not to go to this year’s party, it’s always good to look at why you don’t want to, in case it’s something that needs to be addressed for other reasons.

Reasons to attend

Far be it from me to tell you whether or not to go to your own office Christmas party but before you opt out completely, there are a few solid reasons to reconsider attending.

Firstly, it will give you a chance to unwind with the people that you spend five days a week with, in a less formal atmosphere. Whether you like it or not, you spend a lot of time with these people and the working day doesn’t always lend itself to the opportunity to get to know each other properly.

It’s also a good opportunity to talk to those who you might not work directly with that often. I don’t want to use the word ‘network’ because your office Christmas party should be a place for you to relax, unwind and, more importantly, take a break from things such as ‘schmoozing’. However, it’s nice to get to know people in a relaxed setting, so try and chat to those you don’t normally get the chance to.

Christmas parties are all about a little give and take, too. Attending makes you a little more part of the team, and it’s often the company’s way of saying thanks for your hard work this past year, so you should enjoy it. As I said, most employees might prefer a bonus but if that’s not on the table, there’s no point in looking a gift horse in the mouth.

How to survive your office Christmas party

Have I convinced you to go to the party yet? If you’re still feeling a little unsure, you might like some tips on how to get through the night, especially if you’re an introvert.

Once you decide to attend, give yourself a mental ‘out’ at different intervals. You may not feel the need to use it, but just reminding yourself that you can leave after making an appearance, or after one drink or the meal, could be enough to keep your nerves in check.

Secondly, it’s important to know that you’re not the only one in the room who feels like this. As already mentioned, not everyone is a fan of office Christmas parties – with a large proportion of the population assumed to be introverts, you’re definitely not alone. Knowing that while walking into the room might make it a little easier.

It can be tempting to use the alcohol (which can often be free) to calm the nerves, but be careful. Limit your alcohol intake to the amount you would be comfortable having in front of a business client, and stay in control. If you’re a naturally anxious person, overindulgence will only make your anxieties worse.

Office Christmas parties are a good place to let your hair down and challenge your own social anxieties, so don’t turn down the invite straight away. If you’re available to attend, think about all the reasons it’s worth at least making an appearance. If you’re nervous, take deep breaths and duck out for a break if you need to.

Work parties are a good opportunity to get out of your comfort zone – you might even surprise yourself.

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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