An additional 20 percent admitted to having had too much to drink at such a soiree.

The office Christmas party is one of the highlights of the professional social calendar and a staple of the festive season.

But it seems this annual office blowout can be as daunting as it is fun. Half of respondents in a recent survey confessed that they tried to avoid these festivities altogether, with women more likely to stay away than men.

Their fears included small-talk trepidation, drinking too much, behaving inappropriately and saying something embarrassing.

But a firm set of “Dos” and “Don’ts” is available to guide professionals effortlessly through the networking nightmare that can ensue when career, colleagues and alcohol are mixed. The guide has been written by Debrett’s, the authority on modern manners and etiquette, and includes advice on maximising networking opportunities and top tips on what to avoid.

Jo Bryant, etiquette adviser for Debrett’s, said: “Although festive celebrations can seem intimidating, the office party is the perfect place to impress.

“There is the opportunity to talk to those hard-to-reach people, as well as socialise with colleagues outside the confines of the office.

“Join in the camaraderie and indulge in the Christmas spirit, but know when to draw the line. It is important to maintain your professional gloss at all times.” – Daily Mail

Party dos

1. Do make an effort to look smart and well-groomed, and ensure you adhere to the dress code, if specified.

2. Do circulate and socialise, but keep it upbeat and general. Ask about families, children and holidays.

3. Do make the most of the opportunity to network with your colleagues and clients. Use small talk as a pleasurable way of making contact and cementing relationships.

4. Do ensure that you’re democratic in your mixing: This isn’t the place to schmooze your bosses and ignore your team.

5. Do your best to keep it upbeat and convivial – this isn’t the time of year to skulk moodily in corners and leave early…

Party don’ts

1. Don’t gossip, spread rumours or confess your sins.

2. Don’t let bonhomie turn into sleaze and keep goodnight kisses innocent.

3. Don’t hit the bar with a vengeance, and remember to eat well and alternate drinks with water. Have fun and a few glasses, but don’t be the casualty everyone is talking about (and sniggering at) the next day.

4. Don’t outstay your welcome. If you feel the drink is taking its toll, heed the warning signs and hail a taxi before any late-night lasciviousness or boisterousness comes back to haunt you.

5. Don’t crawl in hungover and late (or worse, pulling a sickie) the following day. It’s unforgivably unprofessional.