With holiday festivities picking up steam and year-end parties sprouting up everywhere, the best way to avoid problems in the aftermath is to set some ground rules for yourself beforehand. To start, it's good to go into the situation knowing that getting inebriated is probably not the smartest choice one could make in a professional environment—party or not. Not because drinking is so taboo per se, but because it is risky to engage in behavior that could alter judgment (and control) while in the company of bosses who have the power to make decisions that affect your life now and into the future.

We've all heard a horror story or two about a holiday party gone south—a sales guy takes a dare to perform a striptease on top of the bar, the CEO's assistant trips on her way out the door and remains face-planted on the sidewalk for everyone to see, and of course, some junior staffer invariably vomits on someone among the senior ranks.

So a note of caution: Drink at your own peril, because you may very well pass a point-of-no-return that leads to debilitating embarrassment at best, or turns out to be a career-ending move at worst. To avoid that, though, there are a few things you can do to ensure your reputation remains intact and you wake up the next morning as the same sound, balanced professional you were the day before.

1. Eat before the party.
2. Drink water in between each alcoholic beverage.
3. Add ice cubes for their diluting effects.
4. Nibble throughout the event if food is available.
5. Know what your tipping point is and don't cross it.

Oh, and stay away from the mistletoe!

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