How to act as a manager at the office Christmas party

Once upon a time you may have been hitting the dancefloor and leading the karaoke at the Christmas party, but once you’re promoted to a manager, you’re expected to act differently. As a result of being a manager, your role at the Christmas party has changed. 

Here’s what I think you need to do to deal with this problem:

Be the role model for good, clean fun

The Christmas party is no longer the place to let your hair down and not care what happens. You’ve got nights out with your friends for that. Because, oh leader, you’ve got a reputation to protect. How can you expect anyone to see you as a role model if you are bundled home in a taxi? Your credibility with your team, your peers and your seniors depends on you being able to show your face in the office tomorrow. Yes, you can hit the dance floor! But don’t be the crazy dancer. Yes, you can do the karaoke! Don’t be the person singing the inappropriate song. You’ll be watched far more closely than ever before. And possibly filmed. Think if you’re OK with your performance being forwarded to everyone you’ve ever worked with. And lots of people you haven’t yet.  

Don’t be the last to leave

One thing you can’t do is be the last to leave. Just as you need to be on good behaviour, many of your team won’t be able to fully relax when you’re there. I know, it’s sad, right? You used to be their friend and now you’re their boss? Well, it’s just how it is. Turn up, have some fun, show you are a decent person who can get stuck into team activities. And then go home and leave them to whatever it is that they want to do.

Have a hard rule on how much you’re going to drink (but keep it to yourself)

My advice so far is recommending that you walk a fine line – between fun and professional. Alcohol – if you’re a drinker – does not help anyone with walking fine lines. Drink as little as you can. If you can’t have one or two without losing the willpower and getting drunk, then don’t have any. But don’t make a big fuss about it or you may come across as the fun police, or people may make it their mission to wear you down and get you drunk.

Try to change the culture away from these sorts of parties

The fact we’re still having Christmas parties like this, in a long-overdue era of diversity and inclusion, is mind-blowing. Don’t get me wrong, they are still fun if you’re there, but they’re horribly exclusionary. Do you really want a party where many of your colleagues don’t feel comfortable joining in and, as a result, don’t get seen as a ‘part of the gang’? Consider a different type of party from next year that doesn’t revolve around drinking and public silliness. An escape room, a cookery afternoon, a music studio session.

Having a different sort of Christmas party means that no one – not the leader who has to go home early or the team member who doesn’t drink – feels intentionally left out.

Resources on office Christmas parties:

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