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How to Nail the Holiday Office Party

Holiday office party season. It’s here. You’ve just gotten the calendar invite and you don’t know whether to RSVP or politely decline. You think to yourself, “this could be a great opportunity to schmooze with the boss for the upcoming promotion, but on the other hand, I don’t want to be part of the crowd, committing all the office party faux-pas.” Let’s be real, these are what holiday office parties are known for, but with a few simple ground rules you can avoid some embarrassingly, rookie mistakes.

How do You Nail the Holiday Office Party?

  1. Keep the chit chat positive. You won’t get that promotion by joining in the office gossip. You want the reputation of having a positive attitude and great work ethic. Talking negatively about peers and upper management isn’t going to do that for you. If you find yourself in this situation change the topic to something fun like holiday shopping or your funny story about hiding gifts from your family. If that doesn’t work, then politely excuse yourself.
  2. Mingle with your coworkers. You may not know everyone in your company, this a great way to learn about the people you work with. For example, your boss frequently asks you to run papers down to the accounting department. Normally, you hand-in what’s needed and leave. Make the interaction a little less awkward by establishing a rapport with them at the office party. There’s nothing wrong with learning someone’s name.
  3. Have a drink limit. No one wants to be the person who walks into work on Monday with all eyes on them. So, don’t drink more than you would even pay for at a bar. An article by Huffington Post, suggests having a soda with lime. Everyone will be fooled by its appearance, but you’re the only one that will know the truth. Shhhhh.
  4. Don’t overload your plate. Sure, this is an opportunity to score some free food, but this isn’t a buffet. This is a social taboo anywhere you go. Don’t think, just because this is work that this rule does not exist. People are watching, remember that. You don’t want to be known as someone who has bad manners.
  5. Prep your date. Some places encourage their employees to bring significant others with them to their holiday party. If you decide to bring yours, give them some background info before they go in blind. For example, say they haven’t seen your coworkers in a while and your boss recently got divorced. TELL THEM THAT. If not, it could potentially be awkward all around and might lead to no promotion…
  6. Don’t linger. Conversations at a party tend to be short, they aren’t meant to be in depth. The same applies here. Moneyish, recently talked about overstaying your welcome in both the conversation and the party. Know when it’s time to move on. Once you’ve mingled with who you needed to and made a round to your “work friends,” then consider a departure. Would you rather have people wondering where you went or wishing you would leave?
  7. Dress appropriately (this goes for your date too). If you have to question it, don’t wear it. We know you would love to wear the inappropriate ugly Christmas sweater poking fun at politics or hinting at innuendos, but refrain. These are great for your personal gatherings, but this is still work and your boss, along with a possible appearance by the CEO, will most likely be there too. Keep it neutral and you should be A-OK.

Now that we’ve established some ground rules to nailing the holiday office party, have fun. It’s a celebration of all the hard work you’ve accomplished over the year, so get out there and enjoy it. Pick up a hors d’oeuvre, grab a drink, enter the ugly sweater contest and enjoy it!