Playing it Cool: How to Survive the Office Holiday Party

Office holiday party_Dec2011_webIt could be your first job and the big end-of-the-year holiday party is quickly approaching.  Past employers never had holiday celebrations before and you may not know how to properly attend one. You could have a lot of questions about how to hold your drinking cup so you don’t greet people with a cold or wet hand, proper business party attire, or how much to eat or drink.

In order for you to celebrate a successful year and get pumped for the new year, here are some easy ways for you to have fun while following the manners and etiquette of business parties.

Make an Appearance

You may feel like passing on the notion of going to a company party. You see the same people for 40 or more hours every week. But not attending could hold back your potential, especially if you see a long future with your employer. This is your chance to talk to and get to know people you work with that you usually don’t see or hear from. Maybe they work on the floor below you, are from another branch, or are upper executives who don’t get out to your normal work area. Expanding your network within your company can help push your career forward when the opportunity for advancement becomes available.

You don’t have to stay the entire time, but try to find 30 minutes to have some fun and make an appearance. If you do decide to stay, don’t overstay your welcome unless you want to volunteer to help clean up if your employer is hosting the festivities.

Party Like it’s 9-5

Just because it’s a social function, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t conduct yourself professionally. It’s not your chance to tell racy jokes, flirt with coworkers, or blow off steam, so keep proper etiquette and modesty in mind when having fun. You don’t need to go back for thirds and fourths at the buffet line. Going too far will reflect poorly on your character and can hurt your image as an employee.

Staying professional is a matter of being polite and warmly greeting everybody – even those you don't like. Try tracking down the manager or executive who approved and planned the party to thank him or her for the party.

No All-Nighter Attire

Check whether the attire for the party is formal or casual or if it has a theme, like say, a cowboy country Christmas. It’s acceptable to dress in festive attire, but avoid the more revealing or skimpy. You don’t want colleagues and managers talking more about what you didn’t wear than what you had to say. If you’re in doubt, ask a co-worker, manager, or party planer what the appropriate attire is. The party is still a business function, so conservative party clothes are always a good choice.

It’s Not Business as Usual

The point of these get-togethers is to raise morale and have a good time outside of work, so try to avoid bringing work into the party during conversations. Work hours are over and nobody wants to discuss business for fun. While it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to the executive heads and decision makers of your company, stay interested in what they have to say and don’t make it about yourself and what you’ve accomplished. You’re there to socialize, not advertise.

When it comes to proper social etiquette, it’s best to use common sense. No matter where the holiday party is held, it’s still a company event, and you should act accordingly, even if others aren’t. But if you follow our advice on how to survive the work holiday party, you’ll be able to have fun and keep your reputation intact.

Comments

  1. Ryan

    This seems like pretty basic stuff to us but you hear stories every year of things going awry at company parties. Here’s to surviving another year!

  2. Edward H

    I’m more of the “make an appearance” person. Of course, we always say we’ll stay about 30-45 minutes because these parties are basically just another day of work.
    But typically, we end up staying a few hours. I guess that’s not a bad idea since the company has kept me for 30 years! Maybe it’s my accurate Super Bowl predictions that keep me around.

  3. Jared Cole

    Cubicle Rebel, Thanks for your honest opinion. The choice to attend the company holiday party is up to you and is optional. There can be benefits to attending if you’re interested in advancing your career. Just use your best judgement.
    Edward, if just making an appearance works, more power to you. I’m sure they keep you for much more than Super Bowl predictions. Who do you think has a chance this year? Thanks for your comment!

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