Tis the season for the office holiday party. Time to cut loose. Or is it?

Let’s start with the worst.

You drank too much. You engaged in offensive conversation. You were obnoxious. How do you handle the next day? Humility comes to mind.

Or, you can:

  • Take the day off. However, it could make things worse. Rumors will spread and reality will be distorted.
  • Show up to work and meet with your boss first thing. Own up to the indiscretion and apologize.
  • Humbly apologize to any coworkers that endured your behavior or were the brunt of an unamusing joke.
  • Look for a new job.

Don’t jeopardize relationships, your professional image, or looking bad in front of your boss and clients because you were having “a good time”.

5 holiday work party dos and don’ts: “A work party is an extension of your job.”

A holiday party is provided to celebrate the season, the closing of another year, and to thank employees.

1. Free drinks! Free, does not mean, all-you-can-drink. Enjoying one to two adult beverages in an extended period, is a legal and personal decision. Some individuals are tipsy after having one alcoholic beverage. If that’s you, I ask you to consider not drinking at all or nursing that drink throughout the event. Overindulging can only lead to tomorrow’s embarrassing water cooler gossip, or a new nickname. Pace yourself when it comes to food and drink consumption. Remember, management is watching.

2. What are you wearing! Even if the party is after work hours, remember that you are still representing yourself and your company. A little sparkle is okay. However, overly sexy outfits are not suggested. In other words, no “club” attire. Again, look at it as an extension of your job. This is an opportunity to shine; not show. If the company has a dress code, make sure to comply.

3. Talking to the boss. Learn to read social cues. Whether it’s talking to your boss or anyone who is in a higher position. Let them dictate where the conversation goes and when it needs to end. Never monopolize the conversation. Never use this opportunity to complain about the company or your job. Never ask about getting a raise or a promotion. This only puts management in an awkward position. How would you respond if you were asked about why you didn’t complete a task? Or, told you about upcoming lay-offs or budget cuts in your department and who you think they should let go?

Instead, use this opportunity to talk about the new project or how thankful you are for the professional opportunities. Try to divert the conversation from work to hobbies, seasonal sports, or New Year’s plans. Keep the conversation upbeat and positive. Think about how badly this could go if you’re drunk.

3. Taking photos. Before you click and post when others are in the photo, make sure you get their permission. Here’s why:

  • You don’t know if they are where they said they’d be. They’d be caught in a lie. Not your problem? Oh, it will be if they’re discovered.
  • What if a coworker’s plus-one is someone other than their partner. Oops!
  • What if the plus-one guest doesn’t want to be included.
  • They might want to approve it to make sure they aren’t in a compromising position or just don’t like how they look.
  • Always be mindful of individuals in the background. Similar circumstances can apply.

4. Hooking-up, flirting, gossip. All reasons not to overdrink! If you aren’t sure about the “sensuous signal” you’re getting, don’t risk it. If a colleague is tipsy and flirtatious, don’t risk it. If you’re tipsy or drunk, well, hopefully you have a coworker who can stop you.

  • Avoid being alone in dark corners with a love interest.
  • Avoid making out (PDA), especially if it’s a coworker.
  • Avoid super sexual dance moves.
  • Avoid making personal announcements.

Sometimes, a party situation and a few drinks is all you need to get that tongue wagging. Sharing confidential information, introducing a rumor, or plain old badmouthing is often involved at holiday parties. While it might be fun to listen to hearsay, it’s best not to be involved or accused of being a part of it.

Final thoughts: If there are organizers or hosts are present, take a moment to express your gratitude for putting together a great event. Mention a favorite moment, food, decorations, etc. A simple and sincere thank-you goes a long way. It shows your professionalism, respect, and appreciation; building connections and relationships.

This is a chance to allow your personality to shine, celebrate and have fun, but always remember to maintain an element of professionalism. Cheers!

Etiquette Expert/Trainer, Author, Media Source 

Nationally recognized etiquette expert with over twenty years of providing trainings, and serving as a source for media.

Trainings are available for: corporations, sales teams, on-boarding, to support code-of-conduct policies to set a standard for employees, universities/college groups, school staff, customer service staff, dining etiquette programs for youth through adult, and actors preparing for audition/roles.


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© 2023 Rosalinda Oropeza Randall

Advice and tips provided are basic and general guidelines and options. 

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