9 Tips for Office Holiday Party Success

The office holiday party is one of the many hallmarks of the season that many workers enjoy. However, it is also infamously packed with strange etiquette landmines that can be difficult to navigate under the best of circumstances – Should you go solo or bring a date? Do you even have to go at all? Do you need to socialize with upper managements’ spouses? If so, how much? Do you treat it like work or a social event? Which one is it at the end of the day?

Golden Christmas ornaments and pine branches on snowy background.

If you are in the workforce, chances are your organization will be holding ones of these yearly soirees. According to a Four Loko survey, 83 percent of companies host annual holiday parties. The survey also found that 26 percent of workers have done something they regret at an office holiday party.

Consequently, it’s important to keep some things in mind going in so that you can enjoy yourself without hurting your career. In fact, you might even be able help your career at this year’s holiday party.

Here are some tips for office holiday party success to keep the season merry and bright the morning after and the year to come.

1. Go to Your Office Holiday Party

The first step in making this year’s office holiday party a success is simply being there. This is especially important if the party is during non-work hours, as long as you can attend without significant hardship. Despite the optional label, managers will care to some extent if you skip out. Furthermore, you can come across as being disconnected from your team and job. If you can only stay for a short time, make sure the boss sees you. Just say hello and talk briefly to ensure that your presence at the party is noted.

2. Talk to People Outside Your Normal Circle

It’s only naturally to gravitate toward the people you spend the most time with at work. However, the holiday office party offers a unique networking opportunity to build relationships with a broader circle of people at your organization. It’s helpful to have some good will with people in other departments. Furthermore, by building relationships with superiors, they’re more likely to think of you later when it comes to project assignments and promotions. A LinkedIn study found that approaching a holiday office party strategically had a positive impact on 47 percent of professionals’ careers.

3. Find a Job to Do If You’re Shy

If large social events make you nervous, you may feel more comfortable if you have a party-related job to distract yourself like overseeing music or appetizers. Seek out the party planners and see how you can help.

 4. Exercise Caution with Your Date Choice

Some office parties are employees only. However, if you can bring a date, think before you bring. Try to avoid inviting someone you only started dating or who will require your full attention the entire time. And, if your significant other doesn’t want to go, let them stay home.

5. Avoid the Office Holiday Party Hookup

This may seem obvious. However, it is a common mistake. Four Loko’s survey found that 9 percent of people have been reprimanded by management due to their behavior at an office party. The number one reason was for hooking up with colleagues. Furthermore, this can damage your office dynamics, career and chances for promotion.

6. Don’t Call in Sick the Next Day

Many people let loose at the office holiday party. However, if your organization expects workers to return to work the next day, it’s important to keep this in mind when hitting the booze. Four Loko found that 66 percent of employees are expected at work the day after a company party. Sixteen percent have called out the next day. By calling out the next day, you are showing higher-ups that you can’t practice restraint or behave responsibly, which will work against you during promotion considerations and performance evaluations.

7. Remember It Is a Work Event

Yes, the word “party” is in the name. But this is still a business event. Granted, it’s a more relaxed professional event with cake and often alcohol, but you still need to adhere to reasonable professional behavioral standards.  Some companies encourage attendees to let loose. However, you need to remember that you’re going to continue working with these people after the party. You don’t want to be known as the one who passed out on top of the food on the breakroom table. Try to remember this as you imbibe. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink or two. But make sure to switch to water once you start feeling tipsy.

8. Don’t Solely Talk Shop

It’s normal to look for common ground in these types of social situations, and work is an obvious choice. However, if you are only talking about work, you run the risk of annoying coworkers who are just trying to relax and forget about work for a bit. If you find yourself scrambling for a non-work topic, try discussing weekend plans, family, recent movies, travel plans, series you’re bingeing, or even the food at the part.

9 Thank Organizers

Organizing and orchestrating these events can be a thankless job that comes with tons of demands and complaints but little in the way gratitude. You can rack up some serious points with colleagues and superiors just by simply thanking organizers for all their hard work.

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