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A Guide to Professional Conduct at Christmas Socials

By December 12, 2023No Comments

Having Fun But Not Too Much Fun: A Guide to Professional Conduct at Christmas Socials

With the festive holiday season fast approaching, it’s a time where many of you along with your teams will celebrate and come together for some well-deserved festive fun. While these occasions offer an excellent opportunity for celebrating the years successes with some team bonding, it’s also important to ensure that everyone knows what is required of them and their conduct, especially where alcohol may be involved.

At HRYBM, over the years we have witnessed, and had to manage, shall we say some ‘interesting’ situations as a result of peoples shenanigans during Christmas parties. An example of which included a senior Marketing Manager, who was dared to flash at the taxi driver passing by who was unfortunately for her, taking the MD and Sales Director back to their hotel after the party. #epicfail

So, you can see, communicating clear guidelines to your team is essential to avoid these incidents happening along with the potential risks that could impact relationships and your professional reputation.

Let’s have a look at some Do’s and Don’ts of Christmas social etiquette ………

Set Clear Expectations

Clearly communicate your expectations regarding behaviour and professional conduct during Christmas social events. Remind employees that these gatherings are an extension of the workplace, and professional standards should be upheld. No one wants to see Dave standing on the dinner table with a bottle of wine as a make shift microphone belting out Elvis!

Encourage Inclusivity

Highlight the importance of inclusivity and creating a welcoming environment for all team members. Encourage conversations and activities that respect diverse perspectives and backgrounds, fostering a sense of unity among the team. No one wants to hear Michelle, reeling off her highly inappropriate and somewhat offensive jokes that only the select few will find funny!

Celebrate Responsibly

While celebrations are encouraged, remind employees to drink alcohol responsibly. Encourage moderation and discourage excessive alcohol consumption to maintain a professional atmosphere. No one wants to find Sally asleep under a pile of coats in the lobby or observe Paul hurling on the bushes outside barely on his feet!

Make it known that any behaviour resulting from intoxication that disrupts the event or creates an uncomfortable atmosphere will be addressed seriously. Explicitly outline that any use of inappropriate language or behaviour that goes against the company’s code of conduct will not be tolerated. Make it clear that these events are an extension of the workplace. Be clear about how poor conduct and/or absences will be managed if necessary.

Respect Boundaries

Remind employees to be mindful of personal boundaries and to avoid discussions or activities that could make others uncomfortable. What may be acceptable among close friends might not be appropriate in a professional setting. Absolutely no-one wants leering Linda slapping their bum and making inappropriate innuendos.

Remind employees to be inclusive and avoid exclusionary behaviour. Discrimination or exclusion is unacceptable and can have severe consequences.

Express Gratitude

Encourage team members to express gratitude and appreciation for their colleagues’ hard work throughout the year. Christmas socials are an excellent opportunity to build a sense of united team and strengthen team bonds. If possible, consider highlighting individual, team and business successes. No one wants to hear Glens opinion on work-shy Kathy who spends more time on her phone than on the task at hand.

The risks of getting the above points wrong, can in some cases cause some blushes the following morning, but worst-case scenario can cause significant risks to you, your business and reputation.

Reputational Damage

Unprofessional conduct during Christmas socials can lead to reputational damage. You never know who will witness such events and inappropriate behaviour may be witnessed by clients, partners, or other stakeholders, impacting their want to engage with you as a business.

Employee Relations Issues

Failure to address inappropriate behaviour can result in strained relationships, leading to decreased morale, productivity, and potential conflicts within the team, which will need managing, impacting on your time and resources.

Legal Consequences

In extreme cases, inappropriate behaviour may lead to legal consequences, such as harassment or discrimination claims. Vicarious liability is another risk which is quite significant to employers.

So, by clearly communicating the do’s and don’ts for Christmas social events, you can foster a positive and inclusive atmosphere, ensuring that celebrations are great fun without any of the hassle.

To help even more, here is a helpful template for you to use as a memo to send to your teams which I hope you find useful!

Nicki xx


Memo Template:

It’s the season to be jolly, but lets keep it professional


As the holiday season approaches, we’re eagerly looking forward to our upcoming Christmas party. It’s a time to let our hair down, celebrate successes and spread good cheer. Whilst we can’t wait to celebrate with you and have a fantastic time, we want the memories to memorable for the right reasons!

In the spirit of transparency and keeping things professional, I want to remind everyone that our work party is indeed a work-related event. That means the same rules of respect and conduct apply, just as they would in the office. We’re all adults here, and I have full confidence that we’ll keep it classy and a fun and memorable evening for everyone.

Here are a few friendly reminders to ensure our festivities are both fun and professional:

We encourage everyone to enjoy the festivities, but let’s do so responsibly. Remember, Monday is just around the corner, and we want everyone to come back feeling refreshed and ready to conquer new challenges.

We’re all for hitting the dance floor and showing off your moves! Just remember to keep it office friendly. Dance like nobody’s watching but be mindful that someone might be recording for the Monday morning highlight reel.

Feel free to document the festivities, but let’s avoid any embarrassing snapshots. Our social media presence reflects our professionalism, even during the most festive occasions.

Let’s make this Christmas party a memorable occasion for all the right reasons. Thank you for your commitment to maintaining our team’s outstanding professionalism while having a joyous time together.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and looking forward to celebrating with you all!