Office Holiday Party Tips

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Even though the word “party” is in the holiday office party invitation, there are a few do’s and don’ts that are not listed on the invitation. Wise office workers beware–this is an opportunity to either shine brightly like tinsel, or to watch your promising career snuffed like a candle!

Here are a few tips for that time of the year.

Sometimes an invitation will state the attire, but in most cases, a party denotes festive dress. If you usually come to work sporting a sensible dress and shoes, this is your chance to spice it up a bit. Tasteful bling may include a pair of red pumps with a black dress, a few extra wrist bangles or a necklace that stands out from your usual jewelry.

Don’t go overboard; this is not a nightclub. The last thing you need are stares that say, “Can you believe she is wearing a strapless skimpy dress and a sequined hat with mistletoe on top?”

Now that you look perfect, expect attention. And with that attention comes a perfect time to make an impression where it counts. Most office parties are well attended by the top brass. Make a plan before you get there. Know exactly who best to impress, and be careful to keep the conversation appropriate to a party and light hearted. Remember, this is a party, not a meeting with your boss.

You are allowed to be personal and ask questions about families, pets, vacations, hobbies, etc. Be extra attentive and listen well, because these types of encounters can take your relationship to a level beyond what you might be able to establish during working hours. Everyone appreciates knowing they have been heard.

Social Drink
We’ve all heard the horror stories about heavy drinking at the office party, and they never end well. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take part in the social aspect of having some spiked punch or your favorite cocktail. Just don’t stand guard over the punch bowl and get bombed in the process! You are, after all, still at your office, and some decorum is demanded.

Only you know your limit, so if one glass of wine puts you in a nice party mood, make sure you don’t grab a second. If a co-worker hands you another glass, a kind gesture indeed, go ahead and accept it, but be sure to discard it right away. You don’t want to get to a state of inebriation and become the brunt of jokes the next day (and forever to come).

On the other hand, be aware that if you choose not to drink, some may wonder if you have a substance abuse issue and are trying to avoid alcohol. In this case, a glass of tonic works nicely. No one needs to know what you are drinking.

Minding Manners
It’s the end of the year and everyone is ready to celebrate, but be very careful to mind the manners your mother taught you.

Unless the invitation says you may bring a guest, don’t. If there isn’t an official invitation, be safe and inquire if this is appropriate.

If you are getting to know your boss socially for the first time at the office party, this does not mean you can throw your manners out the building. You continue to respect his or her position and remember yours. By the same token, just because the office mail clerk is playing Santa Claus, it doesn’t behoove you to go sit on his lap and act like a child.

If you feel tempted to belt out a holiday tune, make sure you are not solo, unless you are a trained, gifted singer and your co-workers have been begging you for at least an hour to grant them this wish.

Gossip is strictly forbidden, no matter how loose the evening or co-workers’ tongues get. The same goes for telling off-color jokes. Just don’t. Remember the spirit of the season and avoid anything and everyone negative.

Be mindful of your time. Try not to be the first guest to arrive. And don’t come too late, just to show that you were there. Your co-workers will definitely notice the subterfuge.

When it’s time to eat, put a reasonable amount of food on your plate and leave the table. Don’t hover around the buffet. Be sure to compliment the chef and thank your hosts or hostesses, i.e., your bosses, before you leave.

Now that you have looked and acted in a way that impressed your co-workers and bosses, it’s time to reap the benefits of your presentation. Surely, you made some kind of personal relationship while at the party, and now you should feel free to contact that person to discuss your common connection. Perhaps you saw a movie or book you discussed? Or you noticed a musician coming to town that you both appreciate?

The opportunities are there but need to be cultivated to reap the most benefit.

Happy Holidays! HLM