It’s time for the annual office holiday party and that means finding the right balance between celebrating the season and still making a good impression in front of management. Luckily, Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette and modern manners expert, is offering these dos and don’ts to ace your holiday office party this year.
1. DO RSVP
Whether the invitation comes through email, telephone, snail mail or Evite, be sure to respond within 48 hours and try your best to respond with a yes. Attendance is practically mandatory, and people will take note of your absence – failing to go to the annual holiday party definitely sends a negative message.
2. DO Arrive & Depart on Time
Be sure to read the invitation carefully; arriving fashionably late isn’t exactly appropriate for a company event. It’s not necessary to arrive early, but make sure you’re there within the first 15-20 minutes.
3. DON’T Bring an Extra Guest
Make sure to check ahead of time to determine whether spouses or dates are welcome. The invitation should state if the event is employees only or has a plus one option, but if not, make sure to ask before you arrive with an unwelcomed guest.
4. DO Great Hosts, Colleagues & Party Planners
Upon arriving at the event, make sure to take five minutes to shake the hands of your host and/or party planners. Compliment an aspect of the party such as the catering, music or décor and make sure to thank each person involved in the organizing.
5. DON’T Hide in the Corner
The office holiday party is a great place to mingle and strike up conversations with colleagues you might not know as well. It’s also a great place to get facetime with your company’s executives. Introduce yourself to knew people, share the department you work for and always try to shake hands. Resist the urge to head straight for the bar, buffet or corner where your office friends are located - get in the spirit and enjoy the night with people from other departments.
6. DO Watch the Topics of Conversation
When socializing with business colleagues it can be difficult not to talk shop but try to keep the business talk to a minimum. Topics like sports, pets, movies, travel and children are a great way to get to know one another, but make sure to stay away from controversial subjects like politics and religion. The party is intended to be a celebration so avoid gossiping and complaining - keep conversations positive and in line with the cheerful time of year.
7. DON’T Wear That
Pay attention to the attire listed on the invitation. Absolutely feel free to dress to impress, but make sure your outfit stays business professional. The holiday party may be a festive occasion, but remember, it is still attended by your coworkers.
8. DON’T Binge at the Buffet
Of course you should help yourself to the food offerings at the event, but be sure to remember your etiquette basics. Keep your hands clean in case you get the chance to meet someone new, avoid a mouth full of hors d’oeuvres, try not to walk around with a full plate and do not double dip at the table.
9. DON’T Be Monday’s Gossip
Don’t be afraid to partake in a few festive libations, but make sure to not overserve yourself. Alcohol and a loose tongue may add up to a regretful Monday morning. Consider tea, sparking water or soda as other drink alternatives – or follow the rule of one glass of water per one alcoholic beverage to balance things out. Remember to carry your refreshment in your left hand so you can leave your right hand free for handshaking.
10. DON’T Clap for Yourself
Speeches and toasts are common at holiday parties and the instinct is to clap or cheers at the conclusion. Instead of touching your glass to everyone else’s, just raise your glass to the host. If you are lucky enough to be addressed in a toast, refrain from drinking – as this is akin to clapping for yourself. Instead, be sure to stand and thank the person who toasted you for their recognition.