Shane Watson has some tips on party faux pas

NS Christmas - Shane Watson on crucial dos and don'ts for Christmas parties

We tend to assume the only thing that can go wrong at a Christmas party is overdoing the egg-nog. That's the first mistake. Here are a few tried and tested tips on how to survive everything from the office party through to New Year at the neighbours':

- Ask not how much you are drinking, but what. If it's Freixenet, you might as well switch to meths and have done with it. Unless the party is a choice-of-three-drinks affair, and one of them is champagne, on no account touch the cock- tail. Similarly, if the cocktail is a themed concoction specially invented for the occasion (Snow on the Rocks, Santa-Maria), just say "No". And watch the oaky-tasting whites; if there's a strong hit of wood you might, incredibly, be better off with a Flying Santa.

-Don't be a waiter chaser. It is polite to attract the attention of a passing drinks waiter, but not to bolt after them with your arm extended roaring "Wait!". The same applies to those distributing canapes. Dodging and weaving in pursuit of the food may seem amusing, but rarely looks as hilarious as you think.

-Treat your boss like the Queen. On no account speak to them unless they approach you first. Ideally, avoid them altogether. They almost certainly have something better to do and, more to the point, this way you have less chance of exposing yourself for the half-cut, underqualified employee you probably are.

- Never do any of the following: tell jokes; sing; adapt some of the Christmas decorations to make a headdress; reminisce about George Best; bring up work grievances with superiors; start physically encouraging people to dance; assume someone is pregnant before you have checked; chase after a rogue cocktail sausage that has rolled on to the carpet, and then eat it.

- Put your mobile on vibrate, if you have to have it on, and on no account start texting in the middle of the party. Harassed, self-important, smug - whichever way you look to your fellow guests, it's not going to be good.

- Don't disco hang. You think the DJ is preoccupied, which is why he won't look you in the eye, but actually he hates you. Get the message: none of them have "Love Shack" any more. If the disco is someone's CD player in their living room, and you've decided you're in charge, don't make this your Jim'll Fix It moment. Keep things in perspective. Take suggestions.

- Ask yourself: am I smoking this much because, subconsciously, I know it's go-ing to be banned and soon I won't be able to at all? Then repeat: TWO YEARS, MINIMUM.

- Don't get intense . . . Where has this year gone? I never used to need a banana and half a bottle of Pepto-Bismol before going out. Better to go straight to the Cossack dancing phase than risk boring your fellow party-goers.

- Do go to the loo at least twice. Seeing your reflection (under strip lights especially) has a very sobering effect.

- Don't have the brilliant idea, three hours into the party, of throwing your own Christmas party, and start asking everyone you meet. You will spend the following day - with a throbbing hangover - frantically ringing round cancelling them all.

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