Office Holiday Party Etiquette: Do’s and Taboos
It’s been a great year, you’ve worked really hard, and your company has brought back the holiday party to reward the team for a job well done. Before you pop the champagne be mindful that your behavior at the holiday bash will impact your professional reputation come Monday morning and beyond. Here are some tips to keep in mind before you celebrate with colleagues this season.
Drink in Moderation
In many organizations, the booze flows so be mindful of the fact that this is one of the few occasions where you’ll be in a social gathering with upper management. Less is more. Nurse a drink through the evening, or stick to non-alcoholic drinks. Everyone has a story about the infamous person who got sloshed at the office party and it’s never remembered fondly.
Schmooze But Don’t Gossip or Tell Racy Jokes
The holiday party is a wonderful chance to show your personality to the powers that be and people you may have never met from another department in your company. While the conversation need not focus on work topics, you should always avoid politics, religion, and sex in conversations since these are still slippery slopes you don’t want to navigate. Keep it light and show your sense of humor. If telling a joke is within your comfort zone, have one at the ready to keep a conversation from going stale – just keep it clean.
Introduce Yourself to the CEO.
This may be the only chance you get all year to rub elbows with the C-Suite professionals in your company. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself and say a few words about what you do for the company. This is not the time to ask for a raise or complain. A positive first impression could distinguish you in the long run with the people above your pay grade.
You shouldn’t dress the way you would if you were going to a friend’s party. Dressing too casually or suggestively can make you look unprofessional. You don’t want to be remembered for the sexy outfit you wore. Be mindful of your company culture and dress accordingly. For women, consider changing your shoes and accessorize the outfit you wore to work that day for a more festive look. For men, lose the tie or jacket to make your work clothes less formal. Stay away from casual Friday clothes and avoid jeans.
This isn’t the time to pursue your secret crush. Public displays of affection are never cool at a work event. No dirty dancing moves or Mistletoe kissing and try to avoid situations where you put yourself at risk from others who have less self control.
Thank the Host
Before you leave, take a moment to thank the host of the party. Whether you are in a colleague’s home or a public venue, be sure to share your gratitude and tell the host how much you appreciated their hospitality. If you are invited to a colleague’s home for the holiday party you should also go prepared with a small hostess gift like a bottle of wine, flowers, or a box of chocolate. You need not bring a gift if the event is held in a restaurant or the company facility.
When to Leave?
You don’t want to be the first to arrive or the last to leave the office party. Arrive fashionably late 10-15 minutes after the party starts. Be mindful if public remarks are to be made so you are present and visible at that time. It’s best to leave 30 minutes before the stated end time of the party or when you observe a critical mass of people exiting. You don’t want to overstay your welcome and be the last person standing while the catering crew cleans up around you.
Office parties should be fun and celebratory. Use your common sense before you deck the office halls and don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at work during the day, or in front of your boss.