We may disagree on what is considered tacky. Your boss’ interpretation is what matters. 

Many work holiday parties are more casual, which is conducive to casual behavior. But after a couple of cocktails, casual can quickly deteriorate into tacky.

1. Consuming adult beverages. 

If my boss gets drunk at the party, why can’t I? You can. But here are three reasons why I recommend that you don’t: 

  1. Your boss may not recollect the events, but you can bet that others will. And they can easily and even happily relay the details about your behavior. There goes your reputation.
  2. You may miss out on making new connections.
  3. You might do or say something really rude or dumb.

2. Your attire.

It’s a nighttime event, and a few of us are going out to a club later on.

Depending on the venue and time of day, work-appropriate attire is recommended. Here are two reasons why:

  1. Wearing clothing that are work-appropriate keeps you in that frame of mind; it can influence your behavior.
  2. Overly sexy clothes will distract you and others. You may not be taken as seriously by management, and possibly cause doubt about your judgement. The same holds true if you are extremely underdressed. Besides, don’t you want them to focus on what you have to say, not what you have to show?

office party etiquette 3. Flirting.

Flirting can be fun. Many romances start at work. However, flirting with the wrong person can secure you a seat in the HR department. Here are two things to be mindful of:

  1. Don’t drink and flirt. If you are too tipsy or drunk, it’s unlikely that you’ll pick up on social cues. Especially the ones telling you to stop.
  2. Be mindful with whom you flirt, even if they flirted first. No-no’s are the boss’s significant other, a client, anyone on your staff that reports to you, and anyone’s date.

4. Conversing with your boss. 

Typically, management is more approachable at work holiday parties. Use this opportunity wisely. If you have a chance to speak to upper management, here are three things to be mindful of:

  1. Don’t complain about pay, how you were passed up for a promotion, or how much the free lunchroom snacks suck.
  2. Don’t vent about your boss, coworkers, or your personal woes.
  3. Be aware of cues, like when to stop talking.

5. Bringing an unannounced guest or crazy date.

You may not think it’s a big deal to bring a guest at the last-minute, and in the scope of things, it may not be. However, here are three things to consider:

  1. When you bring a date to a work party, it can limit your opportunities to mingle, get better acquainted with coworkers outside your department, and talk with management. It can work if  your date is comfortable mingling on their own.
  2. Considering security and COVID-related protocols, bringing an unannounced guest can create a burden.
  3. If you are newly dating, there is a risk. You don’t know whether they over-indulge when drinks are free.

6. Photos and social media.

When we’re having a good time, we often don’t think about these three things:

  1. Before you snap a photo, make sure you know the company’s policy.
  2. Never post a photo of someone on social media without their consent.
  3. Be aware of the people in the background. An innocent hug can be misconstrued. An unflattering pose can be embarrassing.

7. The doggie-bag.

Yes, the company is paying for the food and refreshments, for you to consume there. Not to supply your meals for the week.

  1. It is not okay to sneak in a plastic container to later fill with the free food. (I’ve seen it done.)
  2. Rare, but if someone from the company announces that employees can take any left-over food, you can consider it. Most of the time they choose to donate it to the nearest homeless shelter.

Related television appearance: KTLA5 “Office Party Etiquette”

My new book.

My new book on handling post-pandemic life. Available on Amazon

Etiquette Expert, Author, Media Source  | Actor

Imparting advice to businesses, private sessions, and the film industry. Available to hold virtual or in-person session to prepare individuals/groups for job interviews, dining out, improving communication techniques.

Film industry:  Fine-tune actors’ etiquette skills for roles. Bilingual (Spanish/Mexican). Certified COVID Compliance Officer.



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