By: Jennifer Scott
Company holiday parties: most people either love them or hate them. Whether you find your annual company holiday party a total blast or a total drag, these events can either be a joyous occasion for celebrating with your co-workers or a total disaster. Here’s how to survive the company holiday get-together.
Don’t: Over- or Under-Dress
Few things in life are more mortifying than showing up to the company holiday shindig in your best cocktail dress and heels only to discover that you missed the business-casual memo. Likewise, you don’t want to stroll in in your favorite pair of relaxed jeans when everyone else is dressed to the nines (not that this issue is limited to company parties by any means). If you’re in doubt, ask. It’s much better to suffer a little embarrassment beforehand and admit that you don’t have a clue how everyone intends to dress than to venture a guess and hope for the best.
Do: Bring a Guest (But Not an Uninvited Guest)
Most companies will request an RSVP for the holiday shindig so that they can plan appropriately for the right amount of food and beverages. Typically, the information provided to employees offers some indication of whether you’re permitted to bring a guest.
If you’re allowed to bring a guest, do so, even if it’s a friend. Don’t simply show up with a guest in tow, however, only to be met with awkward glances at an employee-only gathering. It’s also a safe bet to assume that if a plus-one is welcome, it’s a plus-one, not a plus-three. Parties are typically planned with a ballpark number of people in mind, and too many guests can throw everything from seating arrangements to activities off-kilter.
Don’t: Over-Indulge in Alcohol
There’s always that one person who ends up inebriated at the company holiday party. Always. Do not, under any circumstances, ever allow that person to be you. No matter how well you think you can hold your liquor, the truth is that alcohol will always lower your inhibitions. And when your inhibitions are lowered, you tend to make bad decisions.
Plus, drunk people tend to be loud and obnoxious, and no one wants to see that. Do yourself a favor and limit your alcohol consumption so that you can show up to work with your head held high.
Do: Take Advantage of Networking Opportunities
If you work in a large company, chances are there will be people at the holiday office party you’ve never met. Rather than feel awkward about not knowing who everyone is, embrace it as a networking opportunity. That person you chat up by the punch bowl might just end up being the supervisor in the department you’re hoping to transfer to or the boss’ boss who has the power to give you the promotion you’ve been pursuing.
Office parties put co-workers together in a more relaxed atmosphere, and the environment tends to create the perfect opportunity to judge co-workers on everything from their attire to the number of drinks they’ve had or the amount of food they’ve eaten. Even if the co-workers you know best initiate gossip, don’t participate. If there’s not a convenient way out of the conversation, politely listen to what the other person has to say without offering any harsh comments of your own. As soon as an opportunity arises, excuse yourself to get out of the situation.
There’s a good chance that someone is within earshot who would gladly reveal all the terrible things you said to the person in question, or worse, your boss. While it may be tempting to snicker about that guy in accounting hitting on the new girl from human resources, these casual, seemingly harmless conversations rarely turn out well and can lead to problems you don’t want to deal with at work.
Company holiday parties can be great opportunities for meeting new people, relaxing for an enjoyable evening with your co-workers, and simply celebrating the holiday season with the people you spend a good chunk of your life with when you’re not at home. These do’s and don’ts will help you survive your holiday office party stress-free and without embarrassment.
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