It’s not unusual (and it can be fun) to go to happy hour with your colleagues when you start working full-time or even as an intern.

Sometimes, all you need after a long day is a cold drink with some good friends.

However, if you’re new to the working world or lack proper manners for happy hour, it can be dangerous. You see, this isn’t a “pregame” and just because the drinks are half-priced doesn’t mean you should drink as much as possible before 6:59.

A moderate and mindful approach to your weekly Happy Hour can be the perfect opportunity for team-building and stress relief but don’t forget the Golden Rules.

three glasses of alcoholic drinks on a wooden platter


1. Go!

It’s easy to get bogged down during the workweek and feel like you don’t have time for anything but work. But happy hour can be the perfect chance to catch up with your coworkers and relax a little bit. If your team invites you out for drinks, don’t say no just because it’s during the week. Come on, grandma, loosen up a little!

2. Open up—a little bit.

You can still have fun with your colleagues outside of work by talking about topics other than the week’s deadlines. And as long as you use good judgment, it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about your new yoga instructor’s firm body, painful four-day juice cleanse or that time you accidentally sexted your aunt.

In other words, you might want to avoid recounting your drunken antics from Saturday night to your coworkers. Unless you’re somebody who loves feeling uncomfortable and out of place, it’s probably best to save those stories for another time.

3. Make your own plan and stick to it.

Even though it may seem like fun, you don’t have to join in on the office drinking just because everyone else is doing it. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when Rihanna is playing and your boss is buying drinks, but remember that you still have things to do outside of work.

The amusing (and sometimes terrific) thing about alcohol is that it makes you want to stay out later than you originally planned. If you’re going to go to a bar, pick exactly when you will leave and how many drinks you’ll have. This way, you can stick to your plan and not regret anything in the morning.


1. Go to Happy Hour if you still have important work to finish.

Postpone your celebratory drinks until after you complete the day’s tasks. You’ll be more productive now and won’t have to feel as guilty tomorrow when your work is done.

Only commit to things you know you can finish or complete the next morning, and be honest with yourself before leaving.

2. Get hammered (AKA, pace yourself).

Rather than load up on cheap drinks before the special ends, it’s wiser to have fewer drinks and keep your composure. One drink is better than four if you don’t want to embarrass yourself by stumbling out of the bar.

Whenever you drink alcohol, have a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage. If you’re feeling self-conscious about just ordering water at a bar or restaurant, order a tonic with bitters. It looks like a cocktail but contains no alcohol.

In general, it’s a good idea to say no if your team pressures you into doing shots. However, there are some exceptions like St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo or your birthday.

3. Overshare and cross boundaries.

When you’re drunk, it’s easy to laugh along with everyone else when they make fun of the intern from last summer.

Although you may want to let loose with your friends, it is important to remember that boundaries still exist at work. Therefore, think twice before saying or doing anything that you wouldn’t want others in your company to know about–no matter how funny it seems in the moment. With social media being so accessible today, you never know where those memories of the night will end up residing tomorrow.

Go with your gut and if you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t spend excessive time stressing or dwelling on what went wrong. Instead, Dust yourself off and vow to do better next time by following the Golden Rules of Happy Hour Planning ahead will help you avoid future disasters.

How do you make sure you have a fun and professional Happy Hour? Tell us in the comments!

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