Regardless of what ministers say, you probably shouldn’t be snogging anyone at the office Christmas party

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Have a Christmas party. Don’t have a Christmas party. Kiss anyone you want under the mistletoe, but don’t kiss everyone.

Go on, enjoy yourself – you deserve it. But also don’t.

The advice on festive gatherings coming from Westminster this week has been as clear as Christmas pud. 

The UK Health Security Agency chief executive Dr Jenny Harries suggested that people should reduce unnecessary social contact in light of the possible threat of the Omicron variant, Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey urged workers not to kiss ‘people you don’t already know’, then Boris – the bloke who effectively ruined last Christmas by not taking quicker action to prevent a third lockdown – told us not to cancel anything.

It’s no wonder the hospitality industry has faced a swathe of cancellations, as employers fear that their Christmas do in a corner section of All Bar One might turn into a super spreader event.

I feel for employers – I really do. No one wants to be the Grinch who cancelled Christmas, but at the same time, while many workplaces have implemented safety measures to reduce the spread of Covid inside the office, once you enter a bar or restaurant, you’re at the mercy of external Covid procedures.

Work parties usually take place within 10 days of Christmas, which means if you end up catching the virus, you’ll be in isolation on Christmas Day. And with the latest rule changes, those who come into contact with people who have tested positive for Omicron will be forced to self-isolate – regardless of vaccination status. Not much of an improvement on last year then.

We’ve all had a s**t year. Two of them, in fact. So it’s no wonder people want to let their hair down and have a bit of fun. But we’ve also lost over 145,000 people to a novel virus, with 141 people losing their lives just yesterday.

We’re living in an era of conflict. Our government gives us conflicting advice, our friends and family members have conflicting attitudes towards personal and social responsibility. Every day we’re calculating risks both for ourselves and the people around us. 

Sadly, too many people – our prime minister included – seem to neglect the latter by not wearing a mask in confined public spaces.

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But catching Covid isn’t the only risk we take at the work Christmas party, as it provides the perfect conditions for career suicide: booze, bosses, Beyonce remixes to flail your arms to.

If you’ve had a year of pent-up WFH zoom rage towards Gary from finance who refuses to mute his mic as he eats his daily breakfast Doritos, it’d be a bad idea to pull him aside for a deep and meaningful under the watchful eyes of the HR team.

I’m yet to attend a work Christmas do where someone hasn’t snogged someone they shouldn’t – myself included. Not ‘shouldn’t’ in the sense that either one of us were taken, but ‘shouldn’t’ in the sense of ‘what the hell was I thinking’. 

I reassured myself that by the time we had returned to work in the new year, no one would remember our dalliance on the dancefloor. I was wrong. They had photos.

Single folk aside, a recent survey by AYRE Event Solutions found that 8% of Brits confessed to cheating on a partner at the Christmas party, and the same percentage admitted asking a coworker for their number while in a relationship. Straight on the naughty list.

In fact, the 17 December is being referred to as ‘Frisky Friday’, as it’s said to be the day that the people are most unfaithful at office parties. Still, not as impressive as the Tory party, who last year cheated 67million of us.

As we enter our first winter without social restrictions, it feels like now more than ever we are being expected to calculate our own risks and do what makes us feel comfortable. Unfortunately, not every in society will take the same measures we do – and that’s all part of the calculation.

For some, the Christmas party is the event of the year, for others, they’d sooner avoid it. For me, I’ll be going easy on the social gatherings in the week up to Christmas. I’ll be spending the day itself with two parents in the 60s and a grandparent in her 90s. Even though they’re vaxxed and boosted – for me – I’d rather miss out on a party or two than bring home an unwelcome visitor.

As for snogging under the mistletoe, please god do not take Sajid Javid’s advice and kiss anyone you like in the office. People have memories. So do their smartphones.

At least wear a mask as you’re doing it. If only for anonymity.

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