Navigate your office holiday party with ease this season.
It’s that time of year again; time for the much anticipated holiday office party. You’re excited and nervous all wrapped up with a tidy bow. Not to fear, your feelings are quite normal.
While everyone loves a party, office parties are a bit different. They’re meant to allow employees to kick back, get to know one another in a less formal setting, and enjoy the holiday festivities. The problem is that, just like at the office on an average day, your actions during the office holiday party will be under scrutiny by your peers and supervisors. The only difference is that at office parties there’s alcohol involved and inhibitions are lower than normal.
A holiday office party is no joke. It’s important to play by the rules. Failing to do so can leave you starting a job search in the New Year. In order to stay gainfully employed and not ruin your career during this year’s holiday party, be sure to follow these simple office party etiquette rules.
Rule #1: Don’t skip it.
If you receive an invite to your office's holiday party, be sure to attend. Not showing up to the party sends signals that you don't care, or you aren't part of the team. It can also lead to awkward moments the following workday when your teammates are all laughing about something that happened at the party and you're left out. Attendance at your office's holiday party is especially important for new employees. An office holiday party is a great opportunity to connect with your boss and your peers, and show them you're more than the responsibilities of your professional role. Once you establish a personal connection with your colleagues by engaging with them at the holiday party, they're more likely to want to work with you, help you, and be engaged with you at work.
Rule #2: Dress appropriately.
Not sure what to wear to a company holiday party? Be sure to check in with your co-workers to determine the appropriate dress code. If the theme is ugly sweater, then be sure to wear the ugliest holiday-themed sweater you can find. It’s also a definite conversation starter. Not doing so, however, can result in conversations happening behind your back about you not being a team player.
If the theme is more formal, make sure you take that route. Showing up with your ugly sweater to a suit and tie affair won’t be considered funny. Be sure to follow whatever dress code is in place, and you’ll be off to a great start.
Rule #3: Consume alcohol in moderation.
In order to keep the momentum moving in the right direction, this next office party etiquette rule is of utmost importance. Many, if not the majority, of office parties tend to have free alcohol available. While this may be tempting, it can also spell disaster. Lots of otherwise model employees have been canned for not following this basic rule: Don’t overindulge!
Drinking too much alcohol at your office holiday party can lower your guard and make you act ridiculous. It can lead to arguments, or you dancing on a table (or something worse). Don’t be the person who drinks too much and then makes a spectacle of themselves. You’ll never live it down. Your behavior will go down as legend, and you may even end up losing your job altogether.
Rule #4: Stay away from sensitive subjects.
Office flings are obviously a sensitive subject, but it isn’t the only subject to avoid. Typically, workers in an office environment are most comfortable around their peers. They’ve developed a certain rapport where it’s understood which subjects are on- or off-limits.
One thing to consider when attending a holiday office party is that the subject matter you’ve cleared as OK within your department, or between those with whom you work closely, may not be appropriate outside of that circle. Consider that everyone from the company will be invited. There’s a good chance you’ll be mingling with people with whom you don’t frequently connect.
Rule #5: Prep your elevator pitch.
You’ve got goals to move up in your company, but progress has been slow. If done properly, your office holiday party can offer a great opportunity to network and help you move the process along a bit faster.
It isn’t often that you get a chance to talk to the C-level folks at your company. The office party offers such a chance, so be prepared when the opportunity presents itself. As long as you’ve followed the rest of the office party etiquette rules up until meeting with those who can help you get promoted, you’re in a good position.
Yet, don’t get caught making small talk about the weather and stumbling over your words. Put together an elevator pitch that presents you as a model employee and makes mention of your contributions, without coming across as bragging.
Also, practice your pitch with a colleague or your partner. Get feedback from them to ensure you don’t come across pushy, and you get the main points across. Be personable during the conversation, and be sure to ask questions as well. No one wants to promote the “all about myself” employee, so show you care about others and be genuine in your communication.
Bonus Rule: Be serious about office parties, but have fun.
While these office party etiquette rules might take some of the fun out of the party, they shouldn’t stop you from allowing yourself to have a good time. As long as you do so within the confines of the rules above, you’ll make it through your party unscathed, and you might just enjoy it as well.
Office parties are a great opportunity to bond with your co-workers, make new connections, interact with your boss (and their bosses) on a deeper level, and even position yourself for a promotion. Don’t shy away from your office holiday party because of the potential pitfalls. Embrace it.
Showing that you’re interested in a deeper relationship with the company and its employees can show your employer that you’re a long-term asset to the company. They’ll see the dedication you have to being a part of what’s going on, and you can benefit from it.
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