The holiday season is fast approaching, and between the rituals of hanging up lights and shopping for gifts, there’s another event to remember: the office holiday party. No matter how much you like your coworkers, the prospect of going to the annual holiday party may strike fear into your heart. Read our ultimate list of do’s and don’ts to ensure you thrive at this year’s event.
Don’t: Decline the Invitation
We get it. Holiday parties have the potential to be awkward affairs (like that time your boss’s boss was heading your way from across the room just as Bob from Accounting launched into another one of his very off-color stories). No matter how tempted you are to ditch the party this year, stop and rethink your actions. The holiday party is an excellent opportunity to network, show your face, and remind everyone that you’re a team player. You owe it to yourself to put in an appearance, even if you only stay for an hour.
Do: Remember that This is a Business Event
No matter how relaxed your office culture, it’s essential to remember that the holiday party is first and foremost a work event. When people are dressed festively, the drinks are flowing, and everyone is having a good time, it may seem like the lines are a bit blurred. Be yourself, but act as though your boss is watching. After all, he or she might be doing just that!
Do: Ask About the Dress Code
Hopefully your party invitation comes with a note about the dress code, but if not, ask around. Offices vary widely in how formal or dressy their holiday events may be, and you don’t want to feel uncomfortably over- or under-dressed. Feel free to be trendy and dress with personality, but err on the side of being slightly more conservative than you would at a friend’s holiday event.
Don’t: Talk Business Incessantly
Of course, the one thing that brings all of you together is your shared workplace. When that’s your point of commonality, it can mean that talk automatically turns to the office. Talking business is okay in small doses, but use the holiday party to get to know your colleagues as people. Talk about their families, pets, leisure activities, travel plans, or other more personable topics. This will help you get to know your colleagues better and will help you make a good impression.
Don’t: Drink Excessively
This should go without saying, yet every office holiday party seems to have that one person careening across the room, sloshing their drink. Yes, there may be an open bar. Yes, you should feel free to imbibe and enjoy yourself. Just know your limit, and switch to water after a couple of drinks. You want to be memorable, but not for being “that person.”
Do: Know Who Is Invited
Some offices encourage employees to bring spouses or significant others to the party. Others prefer to keep it just to people who work at the company. Ask about your company’s policy beforehand. Nobody wants to be the only person who invited their partner to a work event (and believe us, your partner won’t feel comfortable either).
Don’t: Forget to Thank Your Host
Just like at any other party, it’s important to thank your host. This means that you should go up to your boss or the most senior person at the party and thank them warmly for hosting the party. (This has the added bonus of making you stand out to the higher ups). Also remember that support staff workers or members of your office events committee likely put in hard hours of work to make the party happen. A sincere “thank you” can go a long way to making them feel like their effort paid off.
Do: Mingle with New People
It’s tempting to hang out with the people you see on a day-to-day basis, but remember to branch out beyond your team. The holiday party brings people from all departments together, so take the time to get to know your colleagues from other parts of the organization. This can be a fantastic networking opportunity.
Do: Have Fun!
At the end of the day, it’s just a party. The whole reason your company throws a holiday party is to celebrate and thank you for your hard work. It’s a chance for you to relax and enjoy the company of your colleagues, so remember to have fun!
Marijan Pavisic MS SPHR