What not to do when out drinking with colleagues at the Oktoberfest!

It’s that time of the year again. Munich gets about 6 million visitors every year on account of the largest beer fest the world witnesses (German beer rocks, before you bring out any other statistics). In the last years about 6 million visitors gulped down a neat 6 liters of beer.

O'zapft is -drinking out with colleagues at the Oktoberfest

What began as a marriage party by King Ludwig inviting the whole town, has become a great tourist attraction for the city of Munich year after year. In recent times, it has become customary for many German  based or even International companies to invite their employees or businesses associates to a ‘beer tent’ and celebrate a rather long happy hour’ together.

Beer bench reservations are made months in advance, and employees often show up in traditional Drindls and Lederhosens. And, all this sounds great. But, when deeply attracted to the godly ingredients in those huge glasses, things can quickly go downhill.

We’d like to share some best practices especially what not to do when out drinking with colleagues at the Oktoberfest. This guide is designed to help you appear carefree in the office the next day- once you get a grip on the hangover of course.

1: Should I really go out drinking with colleagues at the Oktoberfest?

The question instead is: why not! A folk fest can be a great way to get to know your office colleagues. Especially if you are new in an office, this could suddenly broaden your network and help you know that colleague on the 5th floor that you didn’t quite get to meet yet.

Many see such fests as a ‘team-building’ activity- and it can truly be that. If you are not a person for big events and large gatherings, take a personal call. Better be aware than upset all through the evening.

2: How can I dress for the Oktoberfest?

In autumn, Munich usually turns into a big costume party. As the Oktoberfest begins you will notice people in fancy traditional clothing. It is not just the locals but also tourists – from Australia to England. Personally, when I wore the ‘dress’ and considering that I definitely don’t look German, the locals were totally excited, and interested in clicking photos with me. I felt like quite the star.

Just be sure, you enjoy your stardom. Here’s a tip though: while you will notice that many women wear plunging necklines that can sometimes go by the maxim of: ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’, do remember that, you need to show up in office the next day. So by all means, ladies & gents, go out there and sport the traditional flavor, but it’s ‘good to be’ moderate in your expression.

3: I love this beer. Can I go all out drinking with colleagues at the Oktoberfest?

Perhaps you are not a beer drinker. And even if you were, surely there’s a limit, and you are well aware of what happens afterwards. Space out the drinks, order for Apple Schorle (sorry: but if you do not try sparkling water juice mixes in Germany, you are missing out on a ton!) or water. If you really don’t know how to handle the big Beer masts, order the exquisite German shandies called Radler (Do not think it’s a girly drink. That’s such a stereotype!).

When everyone else around you is drinking and making merry, no one is going to judge you for drinking a glass of water in between – just in case you were reddening with that thought.

Calling in sick at work the next day can be embarrassing as well. So, it pays to be smart while you’re there. In case you still wanted to *hide* the fact that you are not able to handle copious amount of beer, there’s a unique strategy we have.

Get onto that beer bench and start dancing to the songs. Dancing on benches, by the way, is another German beer tent art, that is highly underrated. You can’t stop, those corny songs and no one will notice you didn’t have another round of beer. Far too much fun to be sitting down in a corner. Get onto that bench, will you?

4: What conversations are good when out drinking with colleagues at the Oktoberfest ?

Well. Here’s a pro tip: at the risk of sounding heartless, no one wants to know about the fight you had with your wife the last night, or what the argument was. It’s wise to be not led into controversies with people that you do not know well. This means, religion, racism, sexism are taboo topics. Even if you felt strongly about world politics and a burning issue, why burn bridges in a beer tent?

Stick to small talk and get to know people before you jump in and talk about something weird. Be happy! This is no time to discuss sad topics or have a salary and promotion discussion (sorry but workplace competition in a beer tent does not cut it).

5: How long can I stay when out drinking with colleagues at the Oktoberfest ?

Well. After ten masts of beer, does that colleague that you never noticed before look sweet? Did you just almost tell your boss that you hate the job? Pro tip: he or she will continue to be cute, the next day, God willing.

The boss will also have more empathy in a quiet one-to-one session. Case in point: save yourself the reputation of a 16 year old who gets too emotional after a drink and can’t handle it. That’s the stuff office jokes are made of. And on the earlier topic, office romances do not need to be blessed by the presence of a 100 colleagues to begin.

Unfortunately, the Apple Watch is not releasing soon enough, or we could have them run an app to indicate: this is enough, go home now. As an adult, you already know it. If not, get a trustworthy colleague to watch out for you. Set an absolute alarm time on your mobile. Run home, Cinderella before the carriage turns into a pumpkin.

6: The morning after the night before. Is calling in sick a good face saving strategy after the Oktoberfest ?

So, you are on the hit-list on the latest office gossip coffee session? Deep breathing. Now, there are 3 degrees of crimes you may have committed.

Degree 1 just some drunk fun: Taking a day off will most likely worsen it. How about showing up for work, and making a few happy notes on how wonderful it has been for the company or your business associate to invite you to the fest. Share a few pictures (the ones before any catastrophic event) with a few people you spent time with.

If someone points out to the embarrassing event, here’s a pro response tip: acknowledge by a smile, dreamy eyes, and then a Sinatra pause followed by: oh, what a wonderful time we had, I’ve hardly danced so much this year. It’s an easy topic changer, without making your strategy too obvious.

Degree 2 he/she looked so cute and I had to show him/her my (forced) dance moves: There’s nothing to save you if you misbehaved with someone while being drunk. A day off is not going to help. Please go ahead meet that colleague in person and apologize. Do not expect to get off the hook immediately.

Degree 3 I think I told my boss that he is a prick: If you really were so dumb – make a back up plan. Do you fear being fired? First do some self reflection, is this true? Do you hate your current job? What would make you feel better? Make a list, get some ideas going now that you’re sober.

If you think you said it without feeling it – set up a one to one meeting with the boss and say it wasn’t what you meant. Explain your position. Now if you really did feel like he is a prick and hate your job for it, then find a back up. Although, another pro tip: this isn’t the behavior anyone should be hiring you for.

You need some soft skill building not to have such bottled emotions in the first place!!

All Experteer colleagues are going to the Oktoberfest together. We have our fingers crossed for everyone, but in case anyone was suffering, we thought, these tips could help. Did you suffer from something even more tragic, or had some really great tips to share, write to us! 🙂


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