Office Holiday Party Etiquette

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… and with it comes the ever-popular office holiday party. It’s a fun year-end celebration that brings coworkers together in a much more casual fashion. But make no mistake – professional guidelines still apply.

This is very much a work event like any other. You will be socializing with your coworkers and superiors, and you will have to see them on Monday.

The festivity can be a holly jolly good time, if you conduct yourself in a way that’s both fun and professional.

Here are a few tips:

1. Don’t not go

The holiday party is an important element of your workplace’s culture, and it’s important that you don’t miss it. Your absence will most definitely be noticed, as will a quick visit. Arrive in a timely fashion, work the room, and don’t be the first to leave.

2. Be wary of invite etiquette

Some parties will have a plus one, some won’t, some will allow kids, some won’t. It’s best to be sure that you know who you can and cannot bring, and to RSVP appropriately. If you are bringing guests with you, be sure to prepare them in who’s who, manners and etiquette, and dress. Your guests are a reflection of you.

3. Dress appropriately

Don’t wear anything you wouldn’t wear to the office. Some offices will elevate the dress code (black tie, cocktail, business casual, etc.), so be sure you wear proper attire while maintaining your professional standards.

4. Drink responsibly

Booze can make you do some regrettable things. It’s best to limit yourself and do not get drunk.

5. Have your party face on

It will be easy to hide in a corner with your +1 or your work BFF, but it’s important that you branch out, socialize, and work the room. Enthusiastically spend time with people outside your department and outside of your tier. Avoid gossip, flirting, or controversial topics (think politics, religion, etc.). And most importantly, do not talk about work stuff.

6. Accept toasts and praise

It’s not uncommon for toasts to be included in the festivities. If you are recognized with a toast or a round of applause, graciously accept it – even if you are uncomfortable. Your denial or downplay of the celebration will dampen the mood. Later in the workweek (after the party), you can pull the toaster aside and thank them for the recognition and politely let them know that you prefer private recognition.

7. Thank yous and thank you cards

Before you leave, be sure to verbally thank the organizers. They put a lot of hard work into making the party happen. Follow it up with a nice thank you card, it will go farther than you think.

8. Post-event social media behavior

It’s okay to post photos from the event – you want to show off your workplace! But don’t talk about “how lame the party was” or post photos of your coworkers that could get them in trouble. Again, if you wouldn’t say it or show it directly to your CEO, it’s best not to post it at all.

The party is supposed to be fun. A little bit of self-restraint can help you make sure that it stays fun. Happy Holidays!