*Please enjoy this list responsibly.

It’s officially holiday party season, which means your annual office gathering is just around the corner. And with it: an open bar. Last year, you heeded the conventional wisdom, had a couple drinks, some non-memorable conversations with your coworkers’ spouses. Briefly ruminated on the inevitability of death. Ate some goddamn cheese cubes on toothpicks.

But last year, you were missing an important bit of knowledge—see, the holidays are a competition. And by pairing your natural ability with a little insider knowhow, we think you’ve got a good shot at winning. Everything. But to start, we’ll tackle the nuanced art of drinking at your office party.

Because let’s face it: you work hard, you like parties. This time of year is your time to get one-drink-less-than-dead drunk while singing a few lusty ballads with a choice group of like-minded coworkers.

So do it. And keep your job. Here’s how.

1) Beeline for the boss.
You need to say hello to the boss—so do it early, in the lucid part of the evening. Book it over there the moment you see him. With any luck, he’ll admire your ambition.

2) Pace yourself.
Slow and steady wins the race. Stay within your limits, but as a general rule of thumb, imbibe one less drink than your boss, and five less than your intern, who is likely A) college-aged, and B) trying to make up for six months of unpaid labor.

3) Keep it simple.
Pick a drink and stick to it. Don’t get all kid-in-a-candy-shop with the choices. And anyway, no party bartender wants to make a six-ingredient cocktail, and crazy straws/umbrellas don’t give off that I’m-a-serious-professional vibe. Now, scotch neat, there’s a drink you’d give a promotion to.

4) Tip your bartender.
Yes, the drinks are free, and sure, 20% of zero is zero. But hey, don’t shortchange the hardworking barman.

5) Generously dole out drinks.
Ensuring other people are never empty shows you’re an enterprising facilitator. Also, it guarantees you’re never drinking alone.

6) Mix in some water.
There’s no shame in hydrating between rounds. Pro tip: water doesn’t get in the way of your present-tense drunkenness. But it does help with future-tense headachiness.

7) Don’t forget to eat.
For the love of God, eat something, and not just at the party. Trying to subsist on shrimp cocktail is a rookie move, so have a sandwich before you go. Otherwise, while your workplace nemesis is schmoozing with the boss, you’re going nuts on the carrot sticks like a goddamn hobo.

8) Go ahead and hug some coworkers.
You love them, damn it. And you don’t say it enough.

9) Hit the after-party.
Or start one. There are even fewer rules at after-parties.

10) Walk home. Gaze at the stars. Eat the leftover Chinese food in your fridge. Smoke something out your bedroom window. Drink a big glass of water. Go to sleep.
You did it.

—K.G.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Kevin Gray