What not to do at the office Christmas party

DON'T be the last one to leave - or the first to hit the karaoke machine.

And whatever you do, don't take your shoes off.

Office Christmas party season has arrived and these are some of etiquette expert Anna Musson's tips to avoid a social blunder that will leave you slinking into work red-faced on Monday.

While there is plenty to enjoy about the company shindig (free-flowing drinks, copious canapes, the chance to let your hair down), don't be fooled into treating it like a night out with your friends.

Ms Musson, of The Good Manners Company, shares her advice for navigating the office celebration without risking your professional reputation.

DO: Show up and be social

Attending your office party is a must.

"Do go to your office Christmas party and do go in theme if they are having a theme,” she says.

Ms Musson says people should enjoy themselves and use the opportunity to mingle outside their usual work clique.

"Do go and meet the boss and do meet new people because we shouldn't just go and stand around with all the people we know,” she says.

"Branch out and meet other people, especially if they bring clients or partners.”

DON'T: Overdo the open bar

"Obviously we know this one but we need to remind people - don't get drunk,” Ms Musson warns.

"When you get drunk your inhibitions will change, your judgment will change and you will say and do things you wouldn't normally say and do.

"Don't fall over, don't take your shoes off, don't take your clothes off, don't hover around the food and don't engage in PDAs.”

DO: Master the small talk

Always introduce yourself with your full name and say which department you're from, she says.

"People love speaking about themselves so you can use easy conversation starters like how long have you been at the company, do you know many people here, do you have plans for Christmas?” she suggests.

Steer clear of politics and religion or at least tread with caution. A safer bet is to stick to questions about work, family and holiday plans.

"Talking about the result of the presidential election in the US is topical but it can get people offside quickly. Only talk about that if you get the sense you're of a similar mindset,” she says.

DON'T: Spend the night on your phone

"For the office Christmas party put your phone away and leave it away,” Ms Musson says.

She also urges caution when mixing work and social media and says you should check the company policy on posting photos from the event.

"I would suggest not taking photos of the boss or your colleagues; maybe a nice photo of yourself but don't tag your business unless they have said it is acceptable,” she says.

"Phones away is the policy.”

DO: Mind your manners

Ms Musson advises having one canape at a time, not taking as many as you can hold.

Her other tip is to hold your drink in your left hand so your right hand is not clammy and free for shaking hands during the event.

If you find yourself stuck in a dull conversation, avoid using an awkward fib as an exit strategy.

"The best thing you can do is introduce them to someone else,” Ms Musson says, after which you can excuse yourself.

DON'T: Be the last to leave

"It can be tempting to stay a long time if the free food and drink is flowing but leave at the tipping point - usually when the formalities are over and it becomes more of a party,” she advises.

Ms Musson says there is no need to prolong your exit by farewelling everyone; say goodbye to the person you are speaking to and make a quiet exit.

"You shouldn't be the last one standing and you shouldn't be the first one on the karaoke,” she says.

DO: Dress to impress

Your choice of party attire is also important.

"If there is a theme go all out because it makes you look like a good sport,” she advises.

If the party has no theme, she recommends aiming for an outfit that is stylish but not showing too much skin and avoiding anything too alternative.

"And regardless of what happens, there is no excuse for taking your shoes off.”