‘Tis the season of the annual holiday office parties. While office parties encourage bonding and serve as a time where leadership can recognise all the hard work employees have done though the year, be aware of hidden party gremlins. Knowing the Do’s and Don’ts for holiday office parties can stop a pleasant evening from turning into the Nightmare Before Christmas.
Do show up on time
This isn’t festive season casual drinks with Aunty Sue, this is a corporate event. Arrive at least within 15 minutes of the start time, no later. You definitely don’t want to be the last to arrive, especially if it is a seated dinner and everyone has to wait for you.
Don’t ignore the dress code
Most office parties have a dress code, and it’s best to work within that. If everyone will be causally dressed, don’t show up looking like James Bond on casino night. The opposite is equally true. Put some thought into your attire and make sure whatever you wear is PG-13. If you are still unsure on what to wear, ask the event organiser for clear direction.
Do talk with everyone
Master the mingle and try to speak with as many people as possible. While it is easy to stick with the coworkers you are most friendly with, try to chat with people you don’t know. Get known for being the great conversationalist you are, and cement a new work relationship or two! You never know who you will meet and connect with. It’s always worth finding another close friend at work.
This is also a great opportunity to talk to senior management. Get to know them on a more personal level while presenting yourself in a good light. Remember to minimise work talk; keep it positive and focus on light topics. The CEO is there to enjoy themself, not talk about next months’ forecast.
Don’t let technology distract you
Avoid distractions by putting your phone away for the entire night. This is the best time to get in some face time with your coworkers and if you spend the night texting, it will make you look bored and withdrawn. Even if you dislike your coworkers (and we hope you don’t), don’t sit in the corner glued to your phone the whole time, as you will look unprofessional and unengaged.
Do drink responsibly
If you will be drinking alcohol, do so in moderation. You don’t want to say or do anything you will regret later. Nor would you want to get into trouble or ruin someone’s favourable opinion of you. A good rule is to never drink more than you would if you were paying premium prices. Or err on the side of caution and only have 2 drinks. Don’t forget: water is your friend.
Don’t take photos without permission
Before you start snapping candid pictures of your coworkers and throwing them up online, get permission! It’s fine to take selfies with coworkers but avoid any poses that might embarrass them later. Always get their approval of a picture before posting it on social media. The internet is forever, and you should respect people’s privacy.
Do keep conversations positive
It can be tempting to voice complaints and gossip with coworkers. It can seem like a great idea at the time, but it often comes back to haunt you. You never know who might be within hearing distance of your conversation. Or who may have a little too much to drink and repeat your complaints to your boss. Keep any office parties’ conversation on the positive side.
Office romances happen, but office parties aren’t the time to announce your undying love. Liquid courage may be your friend tonight, but it makes for bad decisions. You work with this person 364 other days of the year. If you are really that interested in them, you can wait for a more appropriate time to have a discreet conversation.
If you find yourself being hit on and it’s not to your liking, be tactful. Try to let the person down gently if possible, you don’t want to damage a good working relationship.
Do say thank you
Office parties are a lot of work; make sure you thank everyone involved. This includes your manager, host, the person paying the bill, and of course the event organisers. If you don’t have a chance to thank them at the event, make sure to thank them in person the next day at work. Be gracious and show off your good manners.
Don’t be the last to leave
As office parties wind down, look for signs that it is time for you to go. Don’t be the last one there. If the music is off, lights are on, and everything has been cleaned up, you have outstayed your welcome. If you are a part of the last 10 percent of your office in attendance, then it’s time to go.
Do follow the golden rule for office parties
While office parties are fun, never forget where you are. This is not Vegas, and there are no “free passes”. What happens at the party will follow you into the office the next day. This is still a corporate event and office etiquette should be maintained. You don’t want to say or do anything embarrassing.