The art of the office Christmas party

Spirits are high, food and drinks abound...all you need is a plan to stay on track.
Published 19 September, 2023 | Updated 13 September, 2023

If you're on a healthy living programme, you'll know the festive season can be tricky to navigate with party after party and finger foods galore.

You know the culprits - sausage rolls, pigs in blankets, cream-based dips, huge cheese boards and delicious dessert platters. And that's not even counting the Christmassy ales, mulled wine, and festive cocktails! 

The office Christmas party is a culmination of all the tempting foods and drink you may be trying to limit on your weight-loss programme. However, with careful planning, you can stay on track with your goals. Here's how:

Fill your (smaller) plate 

One of the simplest ways to monitor how much you’re eating is to consolidate your food for the evening onto one small side plate. 

“Fill half your plate with vegetables, 1/4 with a lean protein such as chicken or fish — not fried, breaded or soaked in oil or a marinade — and 1/4 with ‘your choice’ as long as it stays within your Points® Budget for the day. If you go back for seconds, choose mostly vegetables and a serving of protein,” says Jaimie Sherry, MS, RD, CDE, CDN, a nutritionist at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Be mindful about mindless grazing

According to WW nutritionist and recipes editor Leslie Fink, MS, RD, “anything that comes in a dip or chip basket is dangerous territory". Why? It's very easy to dip and munch without thinking about how much food you're eating overall.

Don't try to keep track of how many times you reach for yet another guacamole covered nacho or mozzarella stick. Take one, then look for friendlier alternatives like sushi, grilled chicken skewers or stuffed mushrooms. 

Heading up to the bar 

Another red flag is the open bar, offering a bounty of sugary cocktails and creamy frozen drinks, not to mention hearty beers. But if you get looped into doing a few rounds with your work buddies, stick to bottled, light beer or a glass of red or white wine or sangria.

As Fink suggests, “Think of ways to add flavour but not calories to your favourite drinks, like an extra splash of hot sauce in a Bloody Mary, a twist of lemon or lime in your vodka, or Diet Coke with your rum.” 

Dance floor tactics 

Instead of helping yourself to another round of canapés, get out on the dance floor and practice your best Strictly Come Dancing moves for some added activity. Or, how about just chatting with that colleague in finance you never see. By keeping yourself occupied with things that don’t involve food or alcoholic, you’ll end up consuming less of both. 

More office party tips...

Jaimie also recommends the following:

1. Don’t go hungry

People often skip meals or eat less before the big event, but you're more likely to consume more than normal if you haven't eaten all day.

2. Exercise the day of the party

Feel good about yourself, burn extra calories, and remind yourself that you're making positive choices.

3. Determine ahead of time at least two ways of turning your attention away from food

If you're going to have an alcoholic beverage, enjoy it at the end of your meal. Don’t let your glass of wine determine how much you're going to eat.