5 Tips for Mixing Alcohol and Work Events

Whether it’s at a holiday party, company retreat, project milestone celebration or happy hour, business and booze are frequently intertwined. Just like attending other after-hours work-related functions, having a drink with coworkers and superiors with can help you bond with your team or even move up the corporate ladder, depending on the situation.

work drinkBut since alcohol suppresses inhibitions, you might panic at the thought of relaxing too much around your professional crew, whether it’s from fear of saying the wrong thing or just not being “on.” To stay on top of your professional game, brush up on the five tips below for mixing alcohol and work.

Do what others do (in moderation). Take social cues from your coworkers, such as the type of drink you should order. If everyone is ordering beer and wine, which typically have less alcohol than liquor drinks, follow suit. And if your boss typically picks up the tab, also pay attention to the shelf the drink came from – you don’t want to be the only one who ordered two $16 glasses of wine when everyone else is sipping on whatever $5 local beer is on tap. It’s just the polite thing to do.

But listen to yourself, too. For some, half a glass of champagne makes them giggly, and others can drink several glasses of whiskey and soda and not feel any different. Know your own limits, and pay attention to them, says human resources expert Susan M. Heathfield. If you know you’re still in control after one glass of wine but two glasses makes you drunk, just drink the one glass, no matter what everyone else is doing. You can always order a water to drink with your wine or sip a glass of red wine very slowly. Heathfield advises to set your drink limit beforehand to make sure you stick to it.

Fake it ‘til you make it. If you’ve reached your limit, drink deceptively by ordering something that looks like alcohol, such as soda with a splash of cranberry or fruit juice, or something that’s quite diluted, like wine with soda (also known as a “spritzer”), said a Business Insider article on work event drinking. Alternately, sip your drink slowly or stop drinking it altogether as you walk around with it; no one will know the difference.

Don’t forget to eat something. Alcohol’s effects are at their worst on an empty stomach, so encourage the group to order appetizers (and make sure you eat some of them), or eat something at the office before you meet everyone at the bar. Make it a habit to carry a protein bar in your car or purse for eating before impromptu happy hours.

Stay professional. Even though it’s a social function, you should still aim to stay sharp, advises a New York Times article on alcohol in the corporate world. Just like when you’re in the office, stay away from hot-button topics, such as politics or the latest controversial news story, and even try to stay out of possibly unflattering photos. This isn’t a rowdy get-together with your closest friends; these are your coworkers.

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