The Don’ts and Don’ts of holiday season drinking with co-workers

Do these don'ts. Illustrations by Shaylyn Berlew
Do these don’ts. Illustrations by Shaylyn Berlew

The holidays are here, which means office parties are here too. You’ve put in some good hours and stuck it to the man, so it’s time to celebrate and get loose with some colleagues. What could go wrong? Well, A LOT can go wrong actually. Stakes can be high when socializing with co-workers and they get even higher when the booze becomes a factor. Here are a few pointers on what to avoid in order to maintain your office party etiquette, and not get too holiday ratchet. (Of course, you can always drink with the employed, but not your co-workers, tonight at the No Office Party at Littlefield where you can ignore all of this advice!)

Don’t push your limit.

First and foremost. You might decide it’s time to impress your colleagues with how much you can drink, but if you work with Ted of the Iron Liver, you’re bound to make a drunken fool of yourself. This is the most obvious, most important and often most neglected piece of advice. Follow this one and you have a good chance of still having a job to come back to the next day.

Don’t offer to buy the first round. 

There is one question you need to ask yourself when you first get to a party: Do I want to be the bad guy or do I want to be the poor guy? Obviously no one wants to be the bad guy, but if you’re reading this, you probably fit our demographic of being broke, so maybe hold out for when the group dwindles and you have to buy fewer drinks. Sure, everyone admires the drink warrior who fights the crowds at Union Pool to bring lemon drops and Brooklyn Lager back to the thirsty village. However facts are facts, and buying rounds early means you’re paying for more people, so hold out for a more fiscally feasible round.

Addition to this mandate: if there are open bar privileges, don’t be the asshole to say “This one is on me!” and laugh at your own joke. It was never and will ever be actually funny.


Stay this late and things are bound to get weird. DON'T DO IT
Stay this late and things are bound to get weird. DON’T DO IT

Don’t stay until the end of the night.

My mother always told me, “A lady knows when to leave…” but she told my bothers this as well so I’m assuming it can apply to everyone. Mom’s sensibility aside, the laws of probability also play a part in this too. The longer you stay, the more alcohol you may consume, thus increasing the chances of you giving Tommy in accounting a lap dance or kissing the newly married HR girl.

Don’t just talk about work.

Work can definitely be the safe zone for conversation, but don’t be afraid to branch out and talk about other things. This is your opportunity to engage in water-cooler conversation but have the water cooler be a keg instead. Find similar interests and capitalize on those. This is also a chance to get to know people you work with, assessing if they might be compatible friends outside of work as well. Speaking of…

Don’t just stick with your work clique.

With liquid courage at your side, that shy demeanor should go out the window. Mix it up with the single mom in sales or the graphic designer that spends most of his lunches at his desk. They might surprise you.

Don’t pass on a cigarette break.

This is the truth: Some of the best gossip goes down with the nicotine. Not saying you need to take up smoking, but maybe use this opportunity to get some fresh air, more one-on-one time, and hear some interesting secrets.


It just won't end well, so don't do this either
It just won’t end well, so don’t do this either

Don’t even think about doing body shots, strip teases or lap dances.

Assume that if you engage in any of these activities, it CAN and WILL be brought up in every future gathering, changing your workplace name from “Sarah, the copy machine whisperer” to “Sarah, the bump n grind doctor.”

Don’t kiss that person…or  maybe do? I don’t know.

Truth is, office romances are not a great idea. What you think may be a warm and mutual embrace may turn into awkward post-office interactions or even a cute lil’ sexual harassment lawsuit. I know, I know, “It just like FELT right” The fact is, you’re three cabernets to the wind and really DONT know for sure what that other person is thinking so don’t make assumptions leading to a potentially embarrassing or legally dicey situation.

BUT THEN AGAIN…who knows, that kiss may be the catalyst to a fun office fling or passionate long-lasting relationship. I mean come on, you guys have been flirting all night and you’re both are unmarried adults, so seize that mistletoe and just maybe that holiday gamble can actually reap an impromptu sleigh ride.

Lastly this guide is not meant to scare or discourage you from YOLO-ing your way up the corporate ladder. It can actually be extremely helpful and make the workplace more enjoyable by creating these bonds over beers. Just go into it knowing the protocol and avoid the faux pas. Nobody wants to play the smutty fool, and with the aid of social media, that moment will be around for an insta-while gazed through the Valencia filter.

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