It is an annual event that usually leads to red faces the morning after.
Now scientists have come up with an explanation for why the office party is so often the cause of embarrassing and inappropriate behaviour.
Researchers have found that drinking in environments not normally associated with alcohol consumption can leave drinkers less able to control their behaviour.
The brain learns to compensate for the inhibition-lowering effects of alcohol when in a familiar setting, such as a pub or at home with friends, they discovered.
However, if they drink in an unfamiliar environment such as the workplace, where they are usually sober and focused, drinkers do not benefit from tolerance and lose control of their inhibitions.
Researchers found that when people drank in a particular context, such as in the same room, they developed a tolerance over time and the disinhibitory effect of alcohol went away. When exposed to alcohol in a different environment, they were less inhibited again.
“When you drink in the pub, we have generally had lots of experience of that and have learned to build up tolerance. As you don’t normally drink alcohol at work, you haven’t had the chance to build up this tolerance so people tend to be less inhibited,” explained the leader of the research team.
She added: “Being at a party will also make people more excited and will probably increase that effect further. Also once you start getting a bit disinhibited the most likely outcome is to drink more and could lead to binge drinking.
“It probably explains why people do things at office parties that they regret the next day.”