With the holidays approaching fast, it’s about that time when you’ll receive an invite to the office holiday party. Although they’re supposed to be about fun and celebration, it’s no wonder many people dread attending. One misstep can make you the talk of the office for months to come.
Rules of thumb to attend an office party
Arrive on time. It’s disrespectful to show up late, even around the holidays. There is often a schedule of events set up to start at the time indicated on the invitation. It will certainly be noticed if you’re walking in an hour or two late – not a good impression to make with your co-workers and superiors.
Choose your date wisely. If you’re allowed to bring a +1, make sure it’s someone who will behave appropriately and mesh well with other attendees.
Dress appropriately. If the invitation indicates a theme or dress code, adhere to it. If not, choose something that is still office-appropriate. Don’t wear anything too casual, low-cut or risqué.
Converse with a variety of people. A holiday party is your chance to talk with people you don’t normally get to see in a typical day - and a good way to get to know people outside of the “work environment.” Talk with co-workers, your boss, their guests, etc. Keep the subjects light and avoid gossiping about co-workers or delving into heavy topics like religion or politics. Be sure to thank whoever planned the celebration before you leave.
Keep drinks to a minimum. Although parties are supposed to be more casual and fun, don’t go overboard by drinking too much. It’s unprofessional and you’ll likely end up saying something you didn’t mean. It’s also a good way to ruin your chances of moving up professionally. If possible, stick to nonalcoholic drinks or have one or two cocktails throughout the entire night.
Know when to leave. While it’s great to spend quality time with co-workers, don’t overstay your welcome at the office holiday party. Pay attention to the time frame set up on the invitation. You don’t want to be the last one hanging around when they’re trying to tear down the event, as it’s awkward for event planners to have to tell you to leave.
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert and founder & president of Come Recommended, a career and workplace education and consulting firm specializing in young professionals. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), national entry-level careers columnist for Examiner.com and blogs about career advice at HeatherHuhman.com.