Your office Christmas party might be one of those daunting events that nobody in the office really looks forward to, but forget about all the small talk and sometimes awkward conversations for a minute, because it should be a chance for you to hone your social skills. That’s right, guys, I’m here to tell you why it’s the ideal time to separate yourselves from colleagues.

Look, going to the office Christmas party can be weird, as there are rules to follow about what to wear, how many drinks to consume, topics to talk about and, basically, how to act since it’s a work function. Who needs that kind of stress, right? The office Christmas party should be a time when you’re excited to mingle with people who already know you, which can only enhance your social skills and allow you to show your true self.

Since we want you to be exceptional at everything you do, here’s how you can parlay the time spent at your office Christmas party into something so much more, all it takes is a little bit of effort.

Your office Christmas party allows you to show your true self

When you’re in the office everyday sitting behind a computer screen and updating Excel sheets, you don’t really get a chance to showcase your true personality. Part of that’s due to the fact you’re at work, and another part is that you need to play the PC card since you’re supposed to be a professional. It’s a bummer, but you’ve got to play the game.

While you should still be on your best behavior at your office Christmas party and avoid getting too drunk or talk about inappropriate topics, you should definitely be in your element while at a bar or restaurant with colleagues. It’s a perfect time to avoid talking about work, or bad clients, or office drama, or… well, you get the point. This is the time where you can show that you’re actually kind of a funny guy, not the always-so-serious guy who’s constantly busy while in the office.

You can finally talk to that cute girl from HR at your office Christmas party

Want to know another benefit of your office Christmas party? How about the chance to get mostly everyone from your company together, giving you a chance to talk to people who you otherwise can’t in the office. That’s pretty awesome, right?

In fact, it’s so awesome that you can now put some feelers out there with the office hottie who you’ve had a crush on for the past eight months but haven’t made a move. Some of that is because you’re being smart and avoiding any public attention or office drama, but the other side is that you just don’t get a chance to flirt with her because, well, work.

When you’re at the office Christmas party, you’ll both be out of the work setting and be able to talk about general interests and hobbies and all that good stuff. Be respectful enough not to come on too strong — and try not to take her home for a one-night stand — but definitely don’t be afraid to hit on her and see if there’s something there for an actual date together after the holidays.

Socialize with your boss at the office Christmas party to get ahead in your career

Your boss can be quite the intimidating figure while in the office, as he or she walks around with a serious tone to try and lead and/or manage everyone. For that reason, it can be tough to actually get some one-on-one time to talk. But, hey, that’s why the office Christmas party can be a great opportunity to really get to chat.

We’re not saying you should try to become all buddy-buddy with your boss because you’re in a social setting, but you should definitely approach him or her and let them see the real you outside of work. Be charming, be thoughtful, be appreciative and remember to thank them for putting the office Christmas party on.

Also don’t be afraid to drop some hints about a few projects you’re interested in at work, because, if you leave a good lasting impression, you could be getting what you want the next time an opportunity pops up. So use this time to get ahead in your career.

Do something memorable at your office Christmas party (but keep it classy)

Being the center of attention might not always be your thing, but the office Christmas party can serve as a great time to make a good memory for your colleagues to remember you by. We’re not suggesting this is when you should buy the entire company shots and drop an impromptu toast on everyone, but, depending on the size of your company, maybe you can hand out holiday cards to coworkers, or show up in some outrageous Santa onesie.

Remember that the office Christmas party is meant to be fun, and it’s a chance to appreciate working together and having another successful year. Sure, there are rules to follow about how to act and stuff, but, more than anything, it should be a chance for you to break out of your shell a bit and show your charming self to the folks you spend a lot of your time with. That’s something you should look forward to, not be intimidated by.