The Do’s and Don’ts of Attending Office Parties

Holiday work parties are once more upon us. It’s the day in the middle of December where you walk the thin line between being professional and letting your hair down. According to business etiquette experts, no matter how festive the party appears, it’s still about business. Learn about how you should have fun without putting your professional reputation in jeopardy. 

To Attend or Not Attend?

We know that not everyone is looking forward to attending yet another event with the people that they already work with full-time. Even if your presence is optional, making an appearance is in your best interests. If you don’t have previous plans and you decide to skip it, you are showing your company that you have not connected with them or your team.  

If you’re not able to make it because you already have obligations, it’s acceptable not to attend. However, the higher you are on the corporate ladder, the more the company will expect you to be there. Your absence may suggest that you don’t like to mingle with people in lower positions that you. 

What Not to Do at Your Work Holiday Party

There are some unspoken rules for office holiday party etiquette. Everyone will notice how you present yourself, so here are some tips and tricks on how you should and shouldn’t conduct yourself. 

Dressing Overboard or Inappropriately

Many people mistake “festive” for going entirely overboard. Women should avoid wearing scanty or risque attire – anything that is too revealing, transparent, or tight. Men should steer clear of underdressing or wearing offensive t-shirt designs.

Look into where the party is taking place and dress accordingly. Some events demand cocktail attire, while others are casual and may have a thematic  “Ugly Christmas Sweater” contest. 

Do This Instead

You can still get into the holiday spirit with a green tie or by adding some flair and sparkle to a modest ensemble. Wear fun holiday colors as long as you continue to follow the dress code. If you want to go that little bit further, add a festive accessory such as a Santa hat or a reindeer headband. 

Consuming Too Much Alcohol

When you’re having a good time, it is easy to get carried away with your alcohol intake. What may be normal behavior with your friends at the bar won’t be acceptable around the CEO. The intoxicated version of you could do or say something that will haunt you for the rest of your time at the company. 

Do This Instead

There are many tricks to keeping yourself sober while everyone else is getting drunk. Sip and go slow so that you limit your intake and make your one or two drinks last the entire event. 

You can also make sure you eat first and switch to water in between drinks. Not only will it slow down your alcohol absorption, but you will also keep you awake and hydrated.

Arrive Late or Leave Early

Avoid being the last person to arrive and being the first person to leave. Your lousy timing may be as noticeable as not showing up at all. 

Leaving late is not recommended either. Overstaying, long past the end of the event is also seen as a lack of judgment. 

Do This Instead

A good rule of thumb for arriving is up to 15 minutes after the scheduled time. However, if the event is a sit-down dinner party, you must get there on time.

When it’s getting late and you’re not sure when it is unacceptable to say goodbye, wait until after the first person leaves. Keep an eye on any cues that hint the party is ending. Don’t forget to thank your bosses and party organizers on the way out!

Avoid Appearing Anti-social

Whether you’re an introvert or you’re just not in the mood to mingle, avoid being anti-social. Refusing to talk to others, seeming bored, or clinging to your small circle of friends might mean you come across as aloof or unapproachable. Bosses and superiors notice thing slike this. 

Do This Instead

Make a point of talking to people beyond your usual social circle. Work events can be an opportunity to build relationships with people outside your department or above you. If you feel more comfortable keeping to yourself, offer to help out with the party so that you stay busy and productive in front of your bosses. 

What Happens at the Party, Doesn’t Stay at the Party

Whether good or bad, the hijinks at the holiday office party always follow us into the next business day. Avoid saying or doing anything that could upset your bosses or your coworkers. It is the reason why we need to be on our best behavior. 

Aside from small talk, don’t let anyone pressure you to say or do anything you are uncomfortable with. Some coworkers may urge you to “keep up with them” in a drinking binge. Remember, alcohol is optional, and they may be looking for a new target for their office gossip.   

Keep Your Cool, and Keep Your Job

Don’t fall victim to office party shenanigans. Use the event as an opportunity to maintain or enhance your reputation in the eyes of your peers and supervisors. You can still have fun and enter the holiday spirit while keeping your professional reputation intact.