Keeping it Classy – The ABC’s of Holiday Office Party Etiquette

The ABC's of Holiday Office Party Etiquette


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


Show Up

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!


Dress Appropriately

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 Office Holiday Party – A Gift Guide

Best Business Books for the Holidays

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:

Happy Holidays!



The ABC's of Holiday Office Party Etiquette



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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16 thoughts on “Keeping it Classy – The ABC’s of Holiday Office Party Etiquette

  • Well written post with very sound advice. Careers can be damaged at these events if you don’t conduct yourself properly. I really loathe office parties of any type, but it is wise to make an appearance at least for an hour or so.

  • What a great post!
    Fab tips… and funny too (no oversharing made me laugh… SO true)
    My friend got so drunk one year (at the free bar) she burst into tears blabbing about her ex, fell asleep in the disabled loo and her boss saw her bare behind…. mega-cringe!!!

    Thank you for linking up to #fakeituntilyoumakeit!

    • Thanks Samantha – and honored to link up at #fakeituntilyoumakeit!

      I must admit – most of those tips are actions I’ve seen firsthand. I’ve also learned that 2 drinks is the absolute limit – no matter what 😉 !

    • Thanks, Leanne! Ignoring the spouses/guests of employees is a pet peeve of mine! They probably don’t care to be at the party, so make it a point to have a great conversation with them (so it’s a little more bearable)!

      Hope all goes well at your husband’s party. And have a GREAT holiday season :)!

    • LOL! The biggest offenses are probably overindulging because of the free alcohol, or talking “shop” and boring the other guests to tears, but showing up in pajamas probably isn’t advised either (unless holiday PJ’s is the theme) ! 🙂

  • The first work Christmas party I went to I got drunk off the cheap wine way to quick. I was 21 at the time and still didn’t understand you could drink without binge drinking. Thankfully I’ve learned from my mistakes and haven’t even been drunk since – office party or otherwise.

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