Firstly, if you are in the loathe it category, it’s worth taking some consolation from the fact you are not alone. One in five workers admit they hate the annual festive bash and four out of 10 said they were ambivalent, a recent survey by LondonOffices.com showed. Feeling pressurised to get drunk and having to spend time with co-workers were cited as the main reasons for its unpopularity. Interestingly, however, a third of the 700 office workers questioned said they would not trust a colleague who didn’t make the effort to attend.
There are a few basic, practical steps you can take to avoid getting overly tipsy, telling your boss what you really think of him and confessing undying love to the hottie in accounts (ILM has some handy do's and don'ts here).
Don't overdo the alcohol
You can start by stepping away from the bar. If your company is unwise enough to serve drinks before food or, worse still, no food at all, you must make sure you line your stomach with something a bit more substantial than canapés and pork scratchings. A few rounds of toast or a pasta salad in the office beforehand should suffice. From then onwards, alternating any alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and making sure you drink plenty of water should ensure you don’t end up vomiting into the plant pot in the corner by the end of the night or lunging inappropriately.
Hitting the herbal supplements could also help. Milk thistle, a herb that helps detoxify the liver and eliminate alcohol faster, is usually pretty effective. Most large Holland & Barrett’s stock it (£7.99 for 30 capsules) and one capsule (350mg) before bed and another in the morning usually does the trick. A medic friend also swears by RU-21, a dietary supplement that reportedly contains monosodium glutamate, the ingredient found in Chinese food, but it is said to help mop up the toxins in alcohol so helps prevent a hangover. You take one tablet per alcoholic drink and they cost £4.99 for 20 tablets.
Get some extra sleep
There are a few other practical measures you can take. If you work in a city and usually commute in you might want to consider booking into a budget hotel that’s near work so you can have an extra hour or so in bed the next morning or some extra time to hit the coffee and sober up before going into the office. Or, if you work outside a city and usually drive to work, you could volunteer to be the designated driver for the night. That way you show willing, earn extra brownie points with the boss and avert a potential hangover the next day. Result.
Trying to persuade your boss or colleagues to hold the party on a Friday, leaving early, booking the next morning off, or arranging a long lunch the following day, could all be effective ways to help minimise the hangover and potential sickie too. The chances are most of your colleagues will be in the same boat so everyone will want a gentle, quiet day.
Don't drink at all
If you are seriously risk averse and/or in a new job you may want to consider shunning the booze completely. Anyone who’s ever tried not to arouse suspicion to their teetotal state (and as a former party girl with three young children, that’s been me on many occasions) will know that it’s not always as tricky as it sounds. Elderflower cordial can easily be passed off as wine if it’s in the right glass and no one will know if there is any gin or vodka in your tonic unless they inadvertently take a sip. Lots of bars now stock lovely non-alcoholic beers too.
The main thing you need to remember is that it’s only one night and, if you do get really drunk, the chances are everyone else will be too so they won’t really remember. And an Alka-Seltzer and a strong cup of coffee the next morning can go a long way.