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Tippling responsibly at the office party
Tippling responsibly at the office party

By Jay Remer, the Etiquette Guy

With the holiday season fast approaching, there will be no lack of happy occasions for celebration. This is the customary time of year for office parties as well as times for colleagues and special friends to get together for festive luncheons and dinners. During these special meals, it is not at all uncommon for alcohol to be consumed. In moderation, a glass or two of wine or a martini can loosen up inhibitions and sometimes make for a jollier time. Unfortunately, there are too many times when this gets out of hand. Not to mention, there are serious legal consequences to be aware of concerning the service of alcohol.  Keep in mind that there is a high level of responsibility, which is of the utmost importance.

At lunch, wine or wine spritzers are usually safe drinks. Styling with a flute of champagne is a lovely alternative for really special affairs. Sparkling wine makes a suitable substitute. It is always a good idea to remember what your particular level of tolerance is and to stay within a reasonable state of sobriety.

At office parties, a very basic cardinal rule of etiquette in business at all times, during working hours or not, is that you are representing the company for which you work. Sloppy behavior, physical and verbal, has no place in a civilised world. Obviously, this is not to say that merriment has no place. Awareness of one’s limitations for consuming alcohol is really no different than their limitations for anything else. Alcohol too often clouds our ability to make appropriate choices. The question then is how do we make a plan while stone sobre to avoid making a terrible gaff?

There are some simple steps one can take. Try drinking a glass of water in between cocktails or glasses of wine. Consider having weaker drinks when going out. Avoid carbonated beverages. These can speed up intoxication. If you want to enjoy a rum and coke, make it with half the rum as usual. And if you want to carry on at home, that is your business.

At dinner parties or dinner dances where drinking goes on for an extended period of time, make sure you have arranged for safe transportation home. Pace yourself so you do not end up regretting any of your actions from the evening. Many wonderful moments are enhanced with a glass of ‘oh be joyful’. Responsible drinking is not in danger of prohibition. Respect for our fellow man must not be either. Learn to drink responsibly and be sure to teach your children how to when they become young adults.

Let’s treat alcohol with the respect it deserves. Only then will we be able to respect each other and ourselves as well. And - of course - don’t forget to enjoy the festive season.

Jay Remer is the Etiquette Guy, and is certified by the Protocol School of Washington as a consultant for corporate etiquette and international protocol.

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