“Party ’til you puke” is NOT a good career strategy.
It can be challenging, though, if you only equate drinking at social gatherings with getting drunk in order to have a good time. It should be obvious that losing control of your actions is going to have repercussions the following week when you are working with these people, but let’s go over the reason for office parties before I share this great way to control your alcohol intake.
The Purpose of Office Parties
Businesses will provide opportunities for coworkers to get together in a less-business setting because it’s good for morale. Everybody can relax a bit, the divisions between boss and worker are softened, and people will be more productive when there are some friendships going on. These are networking events, to be honest. This is the time you can talk to the CEO without an appointment, or discover a shared interest with your manager. It’s also a relaxed time to know you are appreciated, since most gatherings are hosted by the company.
But the business gathering is still a business gathering and unprofessional behavior will cost you big time since it affects the way you are perceived. You need to know your etiquette for office holiday parties, and a big part of that is not over drinking. How do you keep from drinking too much?
Choose A Drink That Isn’t Your Favorite
If you are delighted that your favorite cocktail is being served for free, the natural reaction is to get one! And another one! And more! Why? Because it’s your favorite drink and you will just suck it down lovingly and want more. This is setting yourself up for failure. Instead, save the favorite drinks for when you are with friends who don’t care what you act like when you drink.
Choosing a drink that isn’t your favorite means you will drink it slowly. You’ll also be reminded that this is a business function and you have more important things to do than drink.
Of course, I am not suggesting you choose a drink you hate, because then your facial expressions would distract everybody. Pick one you think is okay, just not your favorite. No grimaces, no gulps, just sips and conversation. You’ll have this office party thing down as a success.
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.