Dos and Don'ts for the Office Holiday Party

A no-holds-barred office party makes for good entertainment (think the not-quite-classic Office Christmas Party), but when it comes to your career, it's better to play it safe at workplace events. Follow these dos and don'ts for the office holiday party, and you won't have any regrets in the new year.

office holiday party

Do: Attend the party—and show up on time

Even if you'd rather stay at home in your pajamas, get over it. The office holiday party is a must-attend event unless you have an ironclad excuse. This is your company's opportunity to say thank-you to its employees. Be gracious and show up. If you absolutely must skip—because of a wedding or similarly obligatory social engagement—send your regrets as soon as possible.

Once the event day arrives, remember an office party is not a typical social event. This is one time when you want to arrive at the scheduled time—and an occasion when you don't want to be the last to leave.

Don't: Wear something provocative

When planning your outfit, think festive but not foxy. In other words, don't grab the little black dress you wore in Las Vegas. You’ll be hanging out with your boss, after all. Depending on company culture, you might also want to play it safe when it comes to holiday attire. You don't want to be the only one in an ugly sweater.

Do: Pay attention to the invitation

Before you invite a date, make sure you're allowed to bring a plus-one—and if you're currently single, don't feel compelled to bring a guest. It might be better in the long run to show up solo than bring an unproven Bumble match. Again, your professional reputation is at stake.

At some companies, it might be appropriate to bring a nontraditional plus-one, such as a close friend. Figure out if that's the case at your company—and determine whether bringing a buddy will keep you from networking. If it will, try going solo and seeing if you form some new bonds.

Don't: Embarrass yourself

"Don't embarrass yourself" should be rule No. 1 for any company gathering, yet it's so often broken. Alcohol has a way of bringing out interesting behavior. Be mindful of how much you drink, and if you're concerned, drink a club soda or sparkling water. No one will know the difference. You want to stay in control. This isn't the ideal time to dominate the karaoke mic or confess your crush to your cubicle mate.

Do: Mix and mingle

One goal of an office party is to strengthen relationships, so try to circulate beyond your usual clique. Make conversation with your colleagues' guests, and try not to "talk shop" too much. Just keep the conversation at the level of friendly but not too personal.

Don't: Broadcast yourself on social media

Keep it cool on social media. Remember, you’re still representing your company, even if the situation is relaxed and the alcohol is flowing. Your clients might not care to see you enjoying a few too many eggnogs.

Do: Thank your hosts

Before you leave the party, make a point to thank the party host, whether it's your boss or your boss's boss. Holiday parties are an expensive investment, and depending on the size of your company, your boss might have contributed some personal funds. Be grateful.

Don't: Be a gossip—or become the subject of gossip

If you see two colleagues sneaking off, don't spread the word. And don't be the person sneaking off in search of mistletoe. Someone will see you.

Do: Show up for work the next day

The reality of the holiday party calendar is that someone's party has to be on a Monday night (maybe your company can't afford Saturday night, or perhaps the party planning committee got started late). If your party is on a work night, make sure you're in shape to show up on time the next day. Trust us: Those with hangovers will be noticed.

With these guidelines in mind, go forth and be merry!

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