It’s the holiday season, and you’ll undoubtedly be invited to one or two office parties. Whether you’re the type who makes a short and sweet obligatory appearance or are the last person on the dance floor or at the karaoke mic, there are some do’s and don’ts you should heed in order to celebrate the season with co-workers and enjoy yourself without negatively affecting your work relationships or your reputation.
- Show up. Attending the holiday party pays respect to management, co-workers, and party planners. It’s a great opportunity to get to know your co-workers better and facilitate teamwork, but keep networking to a minimum. This is a social get-together.
- Look and act professional. Pay attention to the recommended dress code on the invitation, show up on time, and be present — not on your mobile device. Although it’s a social gathering and you should enjoy yourself, people are watching and taking note of your conduct, both good and bad.
- Express your gratitude to the host. If the party is hosted at a person’s house, bring a small gift unless explicitly discouraged. Nothing elaborate or expensive — a nice bottle of wine or tea sampler.
- Be a social butterfly. Break away from your usual group of friends or the co-workers you most often interact with daily. Try to converse with as many guests as possible, and make it a goal to learn something new about each one.
- Hold your tongue. Don’t use your socializing to complain or criticize the company, management, or co-workers. Never spread gossip, and stay away from politics or sensitive topics.
- Practice restraint. Don’t camp out by the hors d’oeuvres table or pile your plate too high. Use proper utensils and table manners and never double-dip. Inevitably, someone will be watching.
- Get involved. Take part in any planned activities and games. Let loose, laugh, and show off your fun side. However …
- Abstain from overindulgence. Most likely, alcohol will be served — and although alcohol can help you relax and lose some of your social anxiety, if overdone, it can easily cause you to lose more of your inhibitions than you intend. Set a two-drink maximum or a one drink per hour limit and stick with it. You don’t want to be the talk of the office on Monday morning, because the talk most likely won’t be flattering.
Holiday office parties can be stressful, and navigating through the proper social etiquette can be daunting. If you conduct yourself professionally and responsibly, and you look at the festivities as a way to broaden your work relationships and have fun doing so, holiday parties won’t be a reason to dread the season.