You’ve gossiped around the watercooler, shared laughs over lunch and now it’s time to let loose with your coworkers at the annual holiday party. While this may be an opportunity to show your fun side, bond with your cubemates and develop stronger working relationships – there’s a fine line between getting into the holiday spirit and getting carried away. Below are answers to some common questions you may have about attending your company’s holiday party.
What should I wear?
Office holiday parties are a great time to step out and show your festive side. The key is to dress appropriately. If your company is more conservative, a great tuxedo blazer and structured trousers are a safe choice. Don’t be afraid to add a splash of color or shimmer -- whether it’s an embellished skirt, patterned dress or sequined top -- to add something bright to your holiday ensemble.
Keep in mind, an office party is still an office event. Don’t wear anything you normally wouldn’t be allowed to wear in the office. This applies to hemlines, tight-fitting clothes and low-cut tops.
“Merry Christmas might seem innocent enough on a sweater, but it’s Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, post-Diwali, or potentially no holiday at all for other people in your office,” Aravinda Rao Souza, senior marketing manager at recruitment software company Bullhorn, told Fox News. “Going too crazy with the holiday theme is also just a little tacky. Dress like you are attending a charity event where there would be both children and adults present.”
How much eggnog should I drink?
This may sound obvious, but don’t drink to excess. Enjoy a glass of wine or a drink but beware that mixing alcohol with informal conversation could be a dangerous combination. You want to be remembered as the employee that blew everyone away, not the one that blew chunks.
“When you drink too much, you could potentially make a fool of yourself,” etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, told Fox News. “You have to think about the office party as a business event.”
Can I showoff my Gangnam Style?
The office party is time to have fun. Break out the dance moves, but don’t go crazy. You don’t want your antics to be shared on Facebook or the subject of Monday morning watercooler chats. Leave the twerking to Miley.
Who should I talk to?
This is a perfect time to speak with colleagues you might not normally interact with on a daily basis. Introduce yourself to the higher-ups including the president, CEO or VPs. Don’t squander the opportunity and spend the entire evening with your office buddies. Instead, mingle with people from other departments.
Small talk tips?
Try and limit how much you speak about work. “Talking shop is safe to talk when asked by a manager, but keep it short and to the point,” Amy Letke, founder and CEO of consulting company Integrity HR, told Time. “Many a faux pas has been made at holiday parties talking too much shop.”
Asking about holiday plans and upcoming vacations is a safe bet. Keep conversation simple and light. If it turns to something more weighty like politics and religion, try and change the subject.
Make sure the conversation is balanced between talking and listening. Ask open-ended questions, not ones that can be answered with a simple yes or no. “Don’t use the company dinner as the time to be the comedienne of the party. Your Tina Fey routine may be hysterical but your coworkers may be rolling their eyes,” Chris Jahnke, author of “The Well-Spoken Woman,” told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Need to get out of a conversation? Politely excuse yourself and mention that there’s someone you need to catch up with that you just spotted.
Should I bring a plus one?
If you decide to bring an outsider into the mix, choose wisely. The office holiday party isn't the place for a first date or for someone you don’t know well. Make sure they act respectfully -- not hogging food or taking advantage of the open bar.
Do I have to go?
Make every effort to attend the holiday party, even if you don’t want to. It’s a great networking opportunity and a way to show your commitment to the company. If you want to leave early, don’t be the first to skip out. "Not showing up to this event could be tantamount to career suicide no matter how 'optional' you believe -- or are told -- this function is," Patty Ann Tublin, a relationship and communication expert, wrote in a blog for the Huffington Post. "The last thing you want to do is give the perception that you are not a team player because you didn't show up."