How To Finesse The Holiday Office Party

Holiday PartyTonight is the office holiday party, but face it, you’re tired, it’s been a long week, you spend all day with these people, and you don’t want to go. Do you really have to? You bet your sweet paycheck you do! To not do so is to show a lack of respect for your company, your supervisors and your colleagues.

Use it to your advantage and think of it as an occasion for you to advance your career and visibility. This event allows you the opportunity to chat with colleagues and senior executives you may not have met before, or had little time to speak with, and demonstrate your ability to handle business-social situations.

1.  Plan to arrive soon after the start time. Not only will people be fresher in their conversation, but senior management usually tends to arrive early and leave early.

2.  Thank your host — the boss. Make a good impression with your comments but don’t monopolize her attention as others will wish to do the same.

3.  Mingle with people outside of your direct work group. Find out what interests other people and what their backgrounds may be; holiday parties are a great time to make connections and build relationships.

4.  People talk about work all day, so avoid doing so at the party. Be prepared in advance with a few topics of conversation. Have an answer to “What’s new?” and keep current on some “lighter” current events.

5.  Dress appropriately. While festive attire may vary, depending upon your office culture, stay away from anything too risqué, too tight, too loose, too see-through, too low, too short, or too revealing. Keep it fun, but professional.

6.  Limit your alcohol intake! No-one’s professional demeanor has ever improved with the consumption of alcohol. Stick to one, perhaps two alcoholic beverages, if any, and be sure to eat something.

If holiday parties just aren’t for you, realize you do need to stay for at least an hour. Again, it comes back to the impression you wish to make. However, if you are one who really enjoys these types of events, plan on taking your leave when:

  • The music gets really loud and the lights are really low.
  • People are kissing in the corners.
  • Someone drunk is talking (or singing) into a microphone.
  • More that one-third of the guests have already left.

Always keep in mind that this event is more “office” than “party”; in other words, it is still a business function and your actions will be noted. Office gossip tends to linger, so it is always best to avoid having to do damage control the day after the holiday party. Do you want to be the person …

  • Your colleagues will not look in the eye?
  • Your boss needs to talk with about behavior?
  • Who should consider updating their resume?

Be remembered for your professional polish, not your professional faux pas.


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