Your survival guide to the infamous Christmas staff party (Julefrokost)

Denmark’s workplace Christmas parties are good fun. Being aware of the unwritten rules helps keep them that way.

In Denmark, the office Christmas party – the julefrokost – is normally held at the company level and takes on the form of the annual party. For employees and their managers, it is an occasion to come together in the waning days of the year to eat, drink and hygge.

Normally, a good time is had by all, but there are some dos and don’ts that first-time julefrokost attendees will want to keep in mind. (And that even veterans need to be reminded of.)

Let's begin with alcohol

Danes’ reputation for being a boozy bunch is well earned, so, even though the Christmas staff party is a company event, the alcohol will be freely flowing. But that doesn’t mean you will be expected to partake. You might, at times, feel like you are the only one who isn’t drinking, but you won’t be alone. 

This, in turn, brings us to socialising

Danish workplaces are generally informal and during the julefrokost people are even more relaxed. Letting loose is one thing, but – and this applied even before #metoo – be careful not to take it too far. Yes, the Christmas staff party is a chance to make merry with your co-workers, but remember: they are still your co-workers; your workplace rules still apply.

One of the people you'll probably be partying with is your boss

This doesn’t need to be as awkward as it sounds, as long as you remember that this is an entirely social occasion. The julefrokost is not your opportunity to critique the new corporate strategy, to complain about your co-workers or to ask for a pay rise. Save those discussions for the office.

Some will ask whether the Christmas staff party is mandatory

The answer depends on when your company chooses to hold it. An after-hours julefrokost is not mandatory. If you attend, you don’t get paid overtime for it and you can’t count it as work hours.

If your company holds the julefrokost during work hours you’ll normally be expected to attend. If you don’t want to go, and, if your boss excuses you, you’ll normally be expected to work while everyone is partying. 

Whether you go is your choice, of course, but we recommend that you attend

The Christmas staff party is first and foremost a good chance to socialise with your co-workers and to talk with them about something other than work. It is also a way for you to meet people in other departments. So even if you aren’t into partying, the holiday hygge makes it great opportunity to do some networking.