Holiday Office Party Dos and Don’ts

Make sure your behavior doesn’t land you on the naughty list. #worklife

office holiday party

Illustration by Julie Houts

Illustration by Julie Houts

There’s a fine line between enjoying a little holiday revelry and waking up with a load of haunting regret. Before you hit the open bar too hard or skip the festivities altogether (no one will notice, right? Wrong!), follow these tips on how to party like your job depends on it and still have a fantastic time. 

DOs

RSVP.
The organizers of the event are counting on you, literally. They need to know who is attending so they can order food, drinks, etc. So even though it’s an office event, treat the invite like any other—make sure you RSVP. 

Show Up!
As much as you may be inclined to get more work done—or head home—it’s important to make an appearance. The organizers may say it’s an optional event, but that’s not exactly true. Don’t assume your absence will go unnoticed.

Enjoy a Holiday Drink.
It is socially acceptable to have a drink or two. The key words here are “or two.” Do not exceed this limit. Everyone may be fully aware that you are an expert at the keg stand, but this is not the place to show off your expertise and end up the next morning’s hot topic. 

Put Away the Phone.
Go ahead and document some moments from the occasion, but keep a few things in mind. First, check that the people in your photo or video are OK with their images being shared across social media, and second, hold off on posting until after the event has ended. Better yet, be in the moment and just enjoy yourself!

Watch Arrival/Exit Times.
Early arrivals and late departures can upset the schedule. Generally speaking, show up 5 to 10 minutes after the posted time. As for leaving, go with the flow. If others are wrapping it up, follow suit. 

DON'Ts

Don’t Be a Wallflower.
Take advantage of the opportunity to interact outside of your standard work environment. You might make a new friend! Or you could leave a great impression. 

No Twerking Allowed!
We’ve all seen viral videos of people who overdid it on the dance floor. Don’t be that person. Keep your reputation intact by saving the suggestive dancing for a different venue. 

Avoid Inappropriate Conversations.
This is not the time to air the office’s dirty laundry or share your opinions on money, sex, religion or politics. You are likely in the presence of upper management. Introduce yourself, network and keep the conversation controversy-free. 

Don’t Attack the Buffet.
Party food is created to be tempting, but restrain yourself—it’s free food, not a free-for-all! If one helping leaves you hungry, return for seconds only after everyone else has served themselves. 

Don’t Dress Provocatively.
​​​​​​​You will never live it down. Keep the short bodycon dress or the cut-down-to-there shirt for another party. If you’re unsure of the dress code, ask the organizers. 

Ho, Ho...No! 

Greg Jenkins, an event planner and partner at Bravo Productions, reveals four of the most embarrassing holiday party missteps he’s ever seen.

The Showstopper.
“All too often, people think holiday parties are a time to show off their karaoke skills or audition for Dancing with the Stars. I saw an employee and their guest make such a spectacle on the dance floor that it ended up being that worker’s last day with the company.”

The Trash Talkers.
“I’ve heard conversations about politics and religion escalate into full-blown shouting matches thanks to an open bar. One time security had to ask both parties to leave.”

The Accidental Flasher.
“I witnessed one woman in a way-too-short skirt and far-too-open blouse have a wardrobe malfunction in front of the other guests. She felt the stares all evening long.”

The Bar Crawler.
“After throwing back one too many drinks, a senior manager excused himself to the men’s room to spend most of the night un-swallowing. He was old enough to know better, and you could see the stunned looks on his direct reports’ faces.”

Elaine Swann is an etiquette and lifestyle expert. “Ho, Ho...No!” reported by Gina Roberts-Grey.