The office: christmas time, embarrassment and wine

The festive season is upon us. Since early November, Christmas decorations have been popping up in shop windows, with TV ads suggesting gifts for our loved ones.

The office xmasBy Asher Goldman

Christmas isn’t just about presents and rampant consumerism however – there’s also the all-important work Xmas function to look forward to (or is it await with dread?)

The end-of-year work function is traditionally a time for staff to get together and socialise outside of the workplace, and of course to have a feed and a drink on the employer’s dime. At least, that’s how it should be.

These days, employers are more and more likely to avoid responsibility for Christmas parties – putting the onus onto staff to organise them, and it isn’t unheard of for staff to be told to prepare refreshments themselves for in-house parties, or to pay their own way when going out for a meal.

In the spirit of union activity, we need to say that’s not good enough. Organising collectively as a union isn’t just for pay issues, but for a better working life across a range of aspects of our time at work.


Party boycott

We’ve heard of one PSA worksite where members informally agreed to boycott the staff Christmas party after management said it was entirely pay-your-own-way at the restaurant they had chosen.

A few days before the party was scheduled, only management were set to attend, and so, rather than face the embarrassment of cancelling, they found some money and all the staff got a free feed and some drinks. Collective action works!

So, thanks to some good union action, you’ve got yourself a Christmas party. Now, you actually have to go – but what are the key things you should consider before you go?


Sound advice #1

The work Christmas party exists in a strange netherworld between your work and your personal lives. Like a ghost, you’ll be expected to seamlessly flit between the two depending on who you’re speaking to, but unlike a ghost, anything you say or do could come back to bite you at the job the next day.

Our advice? Use caution: have fun, but not too much; be friendly, but not too friendly. Simple, right?

Sound advice #2

Don’t confess your undying love for your workmate after a few drinks. This really should go without saying, but it just won’t end well. If you wouldn’t do it sober, don’t do it drunk.


Sound advice #3

Do suggest going to karaoke at the end of the night, with whoever is left by then. Is there someone you always thought you should be friends with, but you’ve never talked to them enough for it to happen? Never seen your manager with their hair down? Did you perfect a great cover of White Wedding by Billy Idol for Rockquest back in your high school days?

Karaoke brings out the best in everyone. You’ll bond better with your team over Toto’s Africa, and you’ll resolve a long-held grudge with Dave from Payroll while doing a duet to Smash Mouth’s 1997 hit Why Can't We Be Friends. What more could you want?


Now that you know how to make sure you have a Christmas fiesta, and how to make sure it isn’t a disaster, all that’s left is for you to go out and do it!

And, if it all turns to custard, look on the bright side – it will soon be the summer break and statutory holidays!


This article is from the December 2014 issue of the PSA Journal. You can read back issues of the Journal by clicking here.