It’s going to happen, whether it’s premeditated or a drunken escapade. The office holiday party is second only to New Years Eve for the night of most meaningless, easily-excused, no-need-to-explain hook-ups. It’s the night sweater-wearing receptionists find themselves laid out the conference table, four egg nogs deep; when the Serious bespectacled man from accounting surprises everyone by knowing the words to All of the Lights, and subsequently ends up in the storage closet with an intern. The night when anything can happen!
But it can also be a night of serious regret, radically and permanently affecting important inter-office relationships if you’re not careful.
So be smart: follow these five rules and you can enjoy your holiday fun without having to worry about the consequences:
1. Have a location or two in mind:
This is not to get all “plan the whole thing out,” because obviously that deflates the spontaneity. But this weird thing happens when you drink a lot of champagne/wine/liquored cider, where you suddenly don’t care if you’re getting felt up right in front of all your co-workers. So have a couple more discreet spots bookmarked in the back of your mind.
2. The When is very important:
The difference between a legendary holiday romp story and a snicker-inducing display of slutiness has a great deal to do with when the hook-up goes down. If it’s 12:30 and everyone’s dancing? Great. If you and a co-worker are conspicuously absent during the boss’s toast? You will be judged.
3. Beware the higher-ups and lower-downs:
There’s a lot of chain-of-command politics to consider here. Fooling around with an “equal” is almost certainly smarter and less risky than a boss or subordinate, for reasons that stretch from awkwardness to conflict of interest, to blackmail.
4. Avoid the crush:
I’m sure there’s a long-term couple out there who DID first get together at their office holiday party, but I don’t really like the odds on that one. If there’s someone you actually want to start dating, and not just fool around with once, getting them drunk at the holiday party isn’t good long-term strategy.
5. Start the joking about it right away:
One day goes by and you’re fine, two and it’s alright. If you let a week go by and neither of you have acknowledged what’s happened? You’re running the risk of all kinds of iciness, misunderstandings, etc. Be the one to start the gchat at work the next day: “so…that happened. good present, right?” and you’ll be making it clear that it was just a simple holiday frolic, with no need for a big discussion of what it meant.
Cause if there’s one thing the holidays don’t need more of, it’s stress. AMIRITE?