Don't be this guy. Photo by Thinkstock.

Don’t be this guy. Photo by Thinkstock.

Most people know the proper etiquette for the annual office Christmas party. We typically avoid overdoing it on the booze, getting into a theological debate with coworkers, and placing your rear end on the copy machine.

Nevertheless, holiday-party blunders happen each year. They may have even happened to you or someone you care about. Here is what you should do to make sure a work holiday party mistake doesn’t ruin your New Year.

You said something rude or inappropriate to the boss

Whether you were inebriated or not, this slip must be addressed immediately. Don’t wait for the boss to come to you; instead, seek her out and privately address the issue. Don’t try to play it off as a silly indiscretion — be sincerely apologetic. Assuming the boss accepts this apology, take this opportunity to present a more polished and professional appearance at work and look for a way to impress the boss with a special project soon.

You drank too much

Be on your best behavior when you go back to work. Don’t commiserate with coworkers about how awesome you thought the party was. If you were drunk around your superiors, chances are it wasn’t as awesome as you think it was. If you are feeling remorseful, don’t offer mass apologies to the entire company via email. Instead, keep your head down and nose to the grindstone. If a manager addresses your behavior from the night before, apologize and assure it won’t happen again. Use this experience as a learning moment, and consider abstaining from drinking around coworkers altogether.

You drank so much that you have no recollection of the event

Please don’t. If this happens, the first thing you need to do is assess the damage. Check your phone for any incriminating texts, tweets, or emails to help piece together the evening. This also helps with damage control, hopefully eliminating any social media posts that should have never seen the light of day before too many followers lay eyes on them. Ask trusted colleagues about your actions at the party. Once you’ve pieced together your behavior, it’s time to beg forgiveness from your superiors, but be prepared for all possible outcomes. Don’t mince words — really own up to your actions. If all is forgiven, abstain from alcohol at all work functions going forward.

You put on a dirty dancing show

If you got a little too feisty on the dance floor, a case of selective amnesia might just be the way to go. The more you react to your cohorts’ teasing, the more they’re going to heckle you. There will always be new office drama; lay low, and soon your dancing debacle will be old news. However, if someone took photos or video of the sultry show, approach them one-on-one and respectfully ask that they delete the footage and stop distributing it.

You tried to hook up with a coworker

If the flirtation was the result of a legitimate, long-time office crush, it is time to come clean. Fess up to the object of your affection and apologize for putting them in an awkward position. Judge their reaction to this confession before asking them to get coffee with you. If they laugh off your admission of guilt, chances are they’d be open to hanging out with you off the clock. Alternatively, if the flirtation was merely a beer goggle mistake, offer your sincerest apologies and professionally assure them it won’t happen again.

No matter what transpired at this year’s holiday party, don’t let the ghosts of office parties past haunt you forever — learn from your mistakes. Chances are, whatever you did left an impression on you, and you’re less likely to make the same mistake next year (hopefully).