Holiday Party Etiquette!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Greetings Divas and Gents! And Happy Friday! We are currently waist deep into the holiday season, and office holiday parties are upon us. It just so happens that my office’s holiday party is tonight, and I am definitely looking forward to the food, dancing, and networking that typically accompanies our parties. I am quite sure that many of you have frequented the office holiday party. I am also quite certain that many of you have witnessed inappropriate behavior at office holiday parties. 

You all know about the inappropriate behavior in which I am referring don’t you? The woman from accounting who has had one too many drinks from the open bar…the guy from marketing who feels compelled to hit on any and every woman in the room with one goal in mind…the entry-level associate whose skirt is way too short to be showing everyone how low she can go while doing the Cha Cha Slide…you know the behavior I’m talking about!

I have recently been made aware that there are a group of Professional Divas-In-Training who love to read my ramblings on issues that they will face as they prepare to enter into the professional world. Please accept this post as an introduction to holiday party etiquette for the Divas-In-Training, and a refresher for us seasoned Divas. These are just a few tips that I have compiled based on my experiences, as well as the experiences my fellow Divas have shared with me over a round of martinis. Please feel free to add any additional jewels in the comment section below!

1. You Gotta Go! – For some, the thought of attending the office holiday party is not appealing for a variety of reasons. Maybe you don’t get along very well with your co-workers. Maybe you’re not a social butterfly and have no interest in socializing outside of the customary 9 to 5. In my opinion, not attending your office’s holiday party is a big mistake. This is the one time of year when many, if not all, of your company’s major players will be in the same room. This is the perfect time to become acquainted with them in a more comfortable setting. In addition, the office holiday party is sometimes an occasion where you and your colleagues are congratulated for your phenomenal work throughout the year…you want to be a part of that camaraderie. And, you don’t want to be singled out as someone who is not a team player or who lacks social skills. In sum, you are doing yourself a disservice by skipping out on the party. So, unless you have a previously-scheduled event that you cannot get out of, suck it up, go to the party, and have a good time!

2. Dress Appropriately – The office holiday party is not the club, and you should not treat it as such. Mini skirts and dresses, and overly tight pants are unacceptable! A better ensemble is an elegant cocktail dress, or a solid-colored dress slack with a festive blouse. These are just a few examples. Whatever you wear, make sure that your outfit is not water cooler talk the next day!

3. Mingle With Folks You Don’t See Everyday – The holiday office party is one of those events where the entire company gets together, including folks you don’t see every day. Use this event as an opportunity to network with people you don’t interact with on a daily basis. You can introduce yourself to the person you’ve been emailing back and forth all year and never met personally. Or you can strike up a conversation with your boss on something other than business. In any event, do not waste this opportunity to acquaint yourself with other members of your company. Fan out and mingle!

4. Refrain From Inappropriate Touching – Do I really need to elaborate on this one? I didn’t think so! It speaks for itself!

5. Minimize Business Talk – The office holiday party is a time to…party! Don’t be a party pooper by bringing up the deal you are currently working on…or complaining about a current client…or by breaking out a spreadsheet with figures and stuff on it! Leave the business talk, and your briefcase, outside the party. Now, I am well aware of the fact that eliminating business talk altogether is not realistic, but try not to begin a conversation with business. My rule of thumb is to only discuss business if someone, like my bosses, bring it up first. Just remember that the office holiday party is a fun event, so be cognizant of the amount of business you conduct during this time. 

6.Open Bar is No Excuse to Get Wasted – This tip is so obvious that I didn’t see the point in mentioning it first, although it is definitely the most important (in my opinion). Many companies spring for the open bar for their holiday office parties. This is no excuse, however, for you to over-indulge. Getting sloppy drunk at the office holiday party is not only raggedy, but it is a great way to kill your career. I’ll let you all in on a little secret: I never, ever drink alcohol at office events. Gasp! This coming from the author of the Martini Chronicles! Now I’m not necessarily advocating this for everyone, but I have made a personal choice to remain sober when I am in the company of individuals who can fire me. I love and need my job! The other thing is that I never drink when I am driving. Maybe it’s the lawyer in me, but a DUI is quite anti-sexy, and not an option for me. If you decide to partake in spirits during the party, please do so responsibly. Know your limit, and don’t lose control. Also, please arrange for a designated driver if necessary. I don’t feel the need to elaborate any further, as we all know better…I hope!

7. Have Fun! – Office holiday parties are a lot of fun! I look forward to mine every year. Although I offered a few holiday party tips, please don’t assume that I am attempting to ruin your good time. I am not the party police! You should feel free to have a fabulous time partying with your colleagues, mingling with your bosses, and celebrating the holiday season and another successful year. All I ask is that you party responsibly, and remember that you are a professional.

That’s all I go for now! What are some of your do’s and don’ts for office holiday parties?

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