Know Your Etiquette for Office Holiday Parties

Career & WorkplaceExecutive ResumesNetworking

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  In just a few weeks, many corporate professionals will be attending holiday parties with their coworkers. Time to kick-off your heels and celebrate another year towards retirement, right? Wrong.
Even though you are attending a “party” there is still etiquette you need to follow to ensure that your reputation and job are intact on Monday morning.
Make sure your spouse or significant other is actually invited to the event before you show up with him or her on your arm. As many companies are scaling back their celebrations due to tough economic times, some are only having parties for their employees – no guests.

  • If your party is at a colleague’s home, take a small gift with you for the host/hostess. A holiday bouquet or goody that can be shared at the party would be sufficient. Only take a bottle of wine or other alcoholic beverage if you know your host is serving alcohol during the party.
  • Know the dress code for the evening…and then abide by it. Even at the office party, what you wear can affect your coworkers’ and bosses’ perception of you. Wearing clothes that are too low cut or revealing is a no-no at a business function.
  • If there is a meal, whether sit-down or buffet, remember your table manners. If there is more food available at the buffet, make sure every table has already had their first trip to the food line before you make a second. Always take the time to thank the wait staff and others who are serving you during the party.
  • While there may be alcohol served at the party, this is not the time to see how much “holiday cheer” you can consume in one evening. As you are happily mingling with others, be conscious of how much you are drinking. Too much drinking, leads to too much talking which leads to nothing good on Monday morning.
  • If there is mistletoe at the party, steer clear. Although this is a holiday tradition that has been around for years, stealing a kiss from the wrong person under the mistletoe can lead to an awkward situation or even worse, a possible reprimand for sexual harassment (yes, we’ve heard of this!).
  • Network, network, network! Very rarely is there a time where all levels of an organization are together at once and there may be many new faces to greet. Try to meet colleagues in other departments and if you have the chance to rub elbows with the CEO, simply introduce yourself, thank him/her for the party and move on. While networking is okay, cornering the CEO to give him a 5-minute version of your resume is not.
  • Lastly, in today’s world of social media and smart phones, you can almost bet there will be a few pictures taken during the party. If you are asked to be in a picture, smile and keep it professional. Even though some of your coworkers may be your “friends” on social media sites, you don’t want inappropriate pictures of you being fed to others throughout the company.

While the annual holiday party can be a great time to socialize with your colleagues, the bottom line is that you need to remember that an office party of any type is still about business. Don’t overindulge in alcohol, put lampshades on your head and pose for pictures, or stalk the CEO the entire evening – you don’t want to be the one with the red face at the water cooler on Monday morning.