5 Do’s and Don’ts for the Office Holiday Party

Like it or not, it’s that time of year again – the office holiday party! As a relationship expert I’ve seen and heard of many careers crash and burn related to inappropriate behavior at this event. Here are five “do’s and don’ts” to avoid career suicide during the office holiday party. Following the appropriate etiquette listed below may help make or break your career.

  1. Do not even think about blowing off the office holiday party. This could be tantamount to career suicide as your absence from the festivities could be misinterpreted as you not being a “team” player. If you absolutely dread this event, view it as a mandatory business meeting and put your best foot forward. Once you are there, be sure you say hello, with a smile, to as many people as possible who are in attendance.

  2. Find out who is on the guest list and learn a few things about them. Be prepared to engage in small conversation with as many people as is humanly possible. Small talk at holiday office parties is a great way to network and make a positive connection with someone whom you might not otherwise have the opportunity to do so with – carpe diem. (If you have difficulty with small talk – just ask people about themselves by asking open-ended questions that begin with: “Tell me about …” and they will proceed to do all the talking.)

  3. Dress appropriately for the occasion. Although you do not have to wear your business attire to the party, this is not a social gathering among friends – it is a work event. Therefore, this is not the time or place to wear clothing that leaves nothing to the imagination. These people are your colleagues and, like it or not, you will be judged by the clothes, and make-up you wear. When in doubt, dress modestly. Remember, you may have to conduct business with these people in the future and some of them may have input into your career advancement and review. Dress for success.

  4. Moderation is the operative word for all that you do at these events. Do not over imbibe or over eat. You are not at this event for the food or the drink – you are there for relationship building. Therefore, do not tie one on – no matter who else appears to be over-drinking! Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, potentially contributing to an inappropriate joke or remark that will come back to haunt you. When choosing food, pick ones that you may eat without slobbering sauces and juices all over yourself, or the person standing next to you. Take small bites, chew your food with your mouth closed and do not talk with food in your mouth. This shows not only poor etiquette but poor judgment as well. Also, do not talk too much; nobody enjoys a bore who babbles on and on. Listen more than you speak at these events.

  5. Behave yourself appropriately at all times. You do not want to be “that guy” or “that girl” whom everyone is talking about the next day. Behaving classy and with genuine charm might actually accelerate your career up the corporate ladder!

If you genuinely enjoy these work-related parties, that is great! You now have some tips to use to make the most of this opportunity. If you find these office gatherings annoying – or you just plain dread them – view them as an opportunity which comes along only once a year for putting a face to a name and for discovering some commonalities with people you would normally only interact with on a professional basis! You have to spend your time at these events, so you might as well make the most of it!


The Place For Relationship Tools For Success In Business and Life,

Dr. Patty Ann


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