The holidays are upon us, like it or not! And if you are in the corporate world (or the significant other of someone that is), this usually involves attending at least one holiday office party.
We all have heard stories of eventful office parties, and no one wants to be the topic of conversation long after the party has ended (unless they are talking about the great shoes you had on)!
The holiday office party is a prime opportunity to mingle and have a casual conversation with senior leadership, people in other departments, and even get to know those that you may have a negative impression of from a professional standpoint. You may just find that he or she is a great person, if you give him a chance.
There are some basic guidelines to follow to ensure that you make a positive impression on your colleagues, and everyone else in attendance.
Holiday Office Party Etiquette
Regardless of where you rank in a company, you need to make an appearance. Attending company events is a great indicator of engagement, and your fellow employees (and boss) will notice. This doesn’t mean you have to be the first to arrive, or the last one there, but be sure to show up and participate in the festivities!
There are likely to be posted guidelines for office party attire, so be sure to adhere to them. If the event is going to be held at a venue and will be a more formal event, be sure to dress the part. Remember, there are going to be many eyes on you, and dressing like you are going to run errands may make you appear unprofessional.
Conversely, dressing in racy attire, as if you going to a club, will not make the best impression, either. Your best bet is to go with a conservative and appropriate outfit.
If the party is a casual get together in the office, wear what you would normally wear to work.
Put Your Phone Away
In the age of technology, we have all become a little too reliant on our devices. Put them away for the evening, and enjoy the company of those around you. The point of you attending the party is to interact with others, not your Facebook friends.
If you want to take your phone out to get a picture with your office friends, go ahead. Just don’t sit at a table scrolling through your news feed. Make the most of your time at the party.
Mingle with New People
This may not apply if you work at a very small company, but try to have a conversation with individuals you don’t normally interact with. It doesn’t mean that you have to spend the entire party with someone new, but try to talk with others, and not just your department or “office clique”. You never know what you may have in common with someone that works right in your building!
Watch Your Wording
The office party is a time to be social, relax, and get to know your colleagues. Keep the conversation light, and try to avoid only talking about work. Ask your colleagues about their background, what they enjoy doing out of the office, where they like to vacation. Tell others about yourself, but try not to overshare. It probably isn’t the time to tell co-workers about your deepest, darkest secrets. Find a middle ground.
This probably isn’t the time to complain about other colleagues, gossip, or slander your employer. There is always someone listening, and what you complain about may be misinterpreted. Use caution when discussing anything related to work.
Include Guests in the Conversation
As mentioned earlier, many colleagues may be accompanied by a guest. When conversing with your coworkers, be sure to include their guests in the conversation.
This person probably doesn’t want to spend the entire time listening to “work jargon”, or stories about coworkers they know nothing about. Engage everyone in the group, so they can enjoy their time, and not feel like the outcast.
Make it a Point Not to Overindulge
Remember my statement about the “eventful” office parties? The vast majority of the time, they probably included alcohol! Too much alcohol and a professional presence do not mix. If you choose to consume, drink your drink slowly. Have a non-alcoholic beverage in between drinks.
It is difficult to control your wording and behavior when too much alcohol is involved. You don’t want to wake up the next day filled with regret (or a headache).
Take the Time to Thank the Person Throwing the Party
Whether your party is at the most expensive hotel in the city, or a casual get-together at your boss’s house, be sure to thank the individuals responsible for throwing the party. This shows sincerity and appreciation. Those responsible likely put a great deal of time and effort into ensuring you have a great time, so be sure to show your gratitude.
If the party is at someone’s house, or the gathering is small, bring a “thank you” gift. This doesn’t have to be expensive. A box of chocolates, or a small décor item is always appreciated. If you know the person throwing the party well, buying them something you know they like is even better!
Stumped on what to buy? Here are some links to gift guides I have created:
The Healthy Office Worker – A Gift Guide – these are a little pricier, but cool gadgets for the office!
The holiday office party is the event of the year for some, but a dreaded occasion for others. Regardless of your stance, be sure to make an appearance, and create a positive impression that your colleagues (and supervisors) will remember.
Do you have any other tips for surviving your holiday office party? We’d love to hear from you!
Please feel free to comment below or send an email to: email@example.com.
by Natalie Lemons
Natalie Lemons is the Founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC, The Resilient Recruiter, and Co-Founder of Need a New Gig. She specializes in the area of Executive Search and services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid to upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. For more articles like this, follow her blog. Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.
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