The Santa clause

Yes, it’s been a hard year, and the looming festivities may have some bitter-sweetness to them. But now is not to time to leave staff in a Yule-time lurch. MICHAEL PHILLIPS

Michael Phillips

By Michael Phillips

The silly season is upon us – Christmas parties, secret Santa and photocopying strange parts of your body. Lunches also tend to become more “festive” as they tend to drag on a bit and can often blend into dinner. For me though, the most notable thing for this time of year is the infamous office Christmas party.

The Christmas party is a chance for staff to unwind and for bosses to show their appreciation for a hard year’s work. The only problem here is that often staff unwind so much the Christmas party turns into a night at “schoolies”, while bosses spend their time trying to avoid difficult questions from drunk employees.

This year is destined to be bigger than ever and not in regards to the show put on by the bosses but more the “winding down” antics of employees. My prediction is that it will be the year of the “tight arse” Christmas party, where bosses try and save dollars as the economy continues to splutter along.

Drinks will be provided, but forget the name brand red wines and champagne – it’s strictly VB and cleanskins this year. The old-fashioned “barbie” will come back into fashion with dodgy sausages, floppy white bread and even dodgier cooked onions. Lavish dinners and amusement rides are a thing of the past.

As such, when planning for your Christmas party and how to approach it, remember a few golden rules of the game, or as I like to call it – the Santa Clause:

Rules for employees:

Drink and drink hard (read “responsibly”) as you don’t want to be the teetotaller of the office, and even worse have to be the designated driver for your inebriated work colleagues.

Whatever happens you must show up at work the next day, or if the party is on Friday, then see you on Monday. Bosses hold more respect for a person who is sitting at their desk grimacing and using bulldog clips to hold their eyelids open than an empty desk and a lame excuse of a migraine justifying their sick day.

Fraternising amongst staff is generally acceptable among singles of the same employment level. Secretaries and bosses are a no-no!

Don’t discuss work – nothing to explain here, just don’t do it; it will show your inability to have a life other than work.

Rules for bosses:

Don’t be too tight. You don’t need to dish out foie grais and helicopter rides, but this is a chance to thank your staff, so make an effort. A BBQ out the back of the office with BYO sausages, drinks, plates and cutlery isn’t going to send anyone on their Christmas break feeling good about the new year. But neither is Moet Chandon and fillet mignon if you are trying to portray a culture of frugality.

Keep your hands to yourself, regardless of what happens and how many drinks you consume; the only result is a disaster.

Make a speech that focuses on how good the culture is and that without the people the business would be bankrupt. Make sure employees leave feeling good about themselves and excited about the future.

Don’t be first to leave, but leave with enough time that you don’t have to deal with the dregs (read over-confident Gen-Y looking for a promotion).

Above all, Christmas is a wonderful time for most people, and the office Christmas party is a chance to warm yourself up for the festive season.

So, armed with your rules in hand, enjoy yourself and just remember, you’ve worked hard this year and you should kick up your heels – but don’t forget a year’s hard work can be undone in a night.


Michael Phillips is a 30-year old CPA managing a business full of Gen-Ys. He’s the commercial manager of Cremorne Group which wholesales and retail mens and womens apparel, including the Tommy Hilfiger, Blazer and Perri Cutten brands. He offers his experience as a pioneering Gen-Y managing Gen-Ys, covering issues such as how to recruit, retain and get the most out of Gen-Y – the notoriously difficult younger generation of employees aged 15 to 30.

 For more Managing Gen-Y blogs, click here.



Steve Johnson writes: I disagree with most of your comments. I’ve worked in corporate, here as well as UK and across Asia. Comments, including “drink and drink hard” and the rules about fraternising among staff are naive and unrealistic, even for a 30 year old. Referring to leaving the party so you don’t have to deal with the “dregs” is a pretty low comment, even if it’s meant in jest. Not a great message overall for what is an excellent news site for SMEs.



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