Holiday Party Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts

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Every office has stories of holiday parties past. The sordid tales range from co-workers showing up in jeans to a formal event, or the year that an employee drank too much champagne and entertained the office with dance moves. While holiday parties are supposed to be fun, your actions and behavior can affect your career opportunities in the future as well as the respect of your co-workers.

Here are seven tips to make sure that you don’t become part of office lore and limit your career in the process.

1. Don’t be Absent

Unless you have a death in the family, a contagious illness or a wedding (preferably only your own being a valid excuse), you need to be at the party. While holiday parties are worded as invitations, the event is considered mandatory. Rearrange your schedule, cancel other parties, or do whatever you need to do to be at the party.

2. Dress Appropriately

When picking out your outfit, make sure that you are dressing appropriately for the venue and the company. If you are attending a cocktail party at a fancy hotel conservative accounting firm, you would probably wear a different outfit than for a casual party in a local bar after work. Ladies should take care to make sure that their outfit is not too short, too tight or too low cut. If in doubt about what to wear, ask the event organizer about the dress code.

3. Keep Conversation Light and Informal

Instead of thinking of the party as a social event, consider the party a network event. When conversing with co-workers, keep it social, but informal. Make sure not to over share personal details as well as refrain from bringing up controversial subjects, such as politics and religion.

4. Select Your +1 Carefully

If you are not married or have a steady partner, you may want to consider going to the party solo. Be wary of bringing a brand new girlfriend or boyfriend to the event. Any date that you bring to the event is representing you as well.

5. Don’t Overindulge

It’s fine to have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer during the cocktail hour. But make sure that you do not become intoxicated or drink too much. If in doubt if it is appropriate to drink alcohol at the event, follow the lead of your boss and other managers. You don’t want to be the only one drinking.

6. Thank the Organizer

Organizing a party is hard work. And typically a thankless job that no one really wants to do. When you leave the party, be sure to thank your co-worker who planned the party. You should also take a moment to thank the head of the company for the party as well.

7. Make Ms. Manners Proud

During the party, pay attention to your table manners. Use the correct fork, put your napkin on your lap and pass dishes to your right. And be sure to ask other guests about themselves and not dominate the conversation.

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