Christmas is almost upon us! It’s officially December so totally acceptable to start playing Mariah in the office, drink copious amounts of mulled wine and celebrate with friends and colleagues.

It’s also time to start getting ready for those four dreaded words: The Office Christmas Party. Some love it, get over-excited and drink too much. Others hate it, so drink themselves silly to get through the pain. Take too far, and either situation can being career-threatening.

Remember, with great joy comes great responsibility. Here are my top tips for surviving the office festivities while keeping your job – and dignity – intact for the new year.

1) Your boss is not suddenly your best friend 

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It’s okay to let loose a little at Christmas. After all, it’s a time to celebrate and have fun with all the people you have slogged with throughout the year. So have a laugh with your mates from work, Jenny from accounts and the fitty whose name you don’t know. Yet.

Sharing a joke with your boss is fine, just remember where that line is. It can be easy to forget you’re not talking to your buddy who you have the odd gossip with and say something wildly inappropriate. Enjoy the fun but keep it professional. You don’t want the hangover to be made worse by the anxiety of what you might have said being brought up in your next performance review.

2) Keep fancy dress festively tasteful 

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Some offices like to have a bit of fancy dress – crack out your ugliest Bridget Jones Christmas jumpers, some reindeer ears, maybe a nice Santa hat.

This is NOT an excuse for you and your mates to come dressed as Regina and The Plastics performing Jingle Bell Rock, no matter how good your legs look in an Ann Summers festive minidress.

I remember one work party my friend, we’ll call him Jack, coming dressed as the girl from The Exorcist, complete with a blood-covered nighty and teddybear. Although most of us found it quite amusing I’m not sure the powers that be did.

Don’t be like Jack – keep it classy.

3) Afterparty in secret

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We all know what happens, you’ve been drinking all evening, it gets to midnight and the Christmas party is winding down. But you, Jenny from accounts and the fit guy whose name you’ve finally now learnt (but will forget by tomorrow) fancy moving on to a club.

By all means do go wild – but don’t tell anyone that’s what you’re doing. Work the next day is much easier when you can pretend you went home at 12 like everybody else when actually you were doing jaegerbombs in G-A-Y until 4am.

If people know you stayed out and they didn’t, you’re the perfect target to deflect the attention away from their own hangovers  – so don’t give them the ammo!

4) Plan ahead and set your alarms 

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You know the Christmas party is coming so plan accordingly.  Ideally book the next day off if you are planning on going wild.  If you don’t want to use up a precious day of annual leave then make sure your diary is booked accordingly.

If you are working the next day set alarms, multiple alarms. One every 5 minutes for a full half hour. There is nothing worse than sleeping through it and showing up to work late.

Ideally remember to leave your phone on the other side of your room so that you have to physically get out of bed to turn off the alarm

5) Put on a brave face 

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If you do go a bit to far, don’t let it show. If you show up acting hungover it doesn’t look very professional. But if you got mortal and still manage to come in bright-eyed and bushy-tailed? You’re the office hero. Provided you didn’t embarrass yourself too much the night before.

Enjoy!

Sanjay Sood-Smith is a food entrepreneur and former candidate on The Apprentice. You can find out more about his business Tuk In, which makes curry-in-a-naan, at tukinfoods.com.

Follow him on Twitter at @sanjaysoodsmith

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