‘Tis the season to be merry, festive, and most important of all, party. For those of you that are members of Corporate America, like me you are no stranger to the annual office holiday party. This has different meanings for everyone: for some this is a fun time filled with eggnog, drunken renditions of “Santa Baby” and Christmas bonuses, while to other people it is the most dreaded event of the year, filled with awkward conversation, being forced to socialize with your boss and stiff co-workers outside of office hours, as well as having to participate in some silly white elephant gift exchange while dressed up in ugly holiday sweaters.
Whether or not your views of the said event are positive or negative, the main point is that you’re inclined to go. Even if attendance isn’t mandatory, we all feel a silent, underlying sense of obligation to at least show up and make a quick cameo, eat one slice of Jim’s homemade fruit bread, and attempt to be social for at least half an hour before bouncing and heading off to the holiday party that we’re actually excited about.
Not all company parties are dull though. In fact, some are just the opposite. Open bar, hired entertainment, hosted at some amazing club venue – now you’re in for an entirely different kind of evening. However, just because it seems like a “free for all” doesn’t mean that you should make it one. Remember, just because there’s alcohol being provided doesn’t negate the fact that you’re still in a professional work environment. That’s still your boss and they’re still your co-workers, which means that you will want to follow appropriate office party etiquette so that you don’t have to worry about whether or not you still have a job the following Monday.
Drink smart: Just because there’s an open bar doesn’t mean that you should overindulge. Alcohol can be a very dangerous thing, especially in a work environment. Just because your boss says it’s okay to drink (and even if he or she is wasted and dancing on tables) doesn’t mean that you should do so. Have a drink maximum (say two glasses of wine) and stick to it. That way you’ll maintain a classy buzz without losing your cool. Feel awkward standing around without holding something in your hand? Reach for a food plate or appetizer instead – the extra food will also help soak up the extra alcohol.
Dress appropriately: When in doubt, go for smart casual. Even if your office party venue is at some hip nightclub, you don’t want to dress like it’s girl’s weekend in Vegas. Save the club wear for partying with friends and instead go for a classy dress, pantsuit or skirt and blouse pairing with low heels.
Make face but avoid debauchery: Show your social side by engaging in conversation with your coworkers and by all means bring something for the secret Santa game, but if your coworkers are trying to get you to join in for a game of eggnog pong or multiple shots of whatever the bartender is serving under the mistletoe, best to sit this one out. You don’t want to find yourself in an awkward situation with Barry from the nearby cubicle who may use the mistletoe as his opportunity to get to know you a little better.
Know when to leave: The Evite may have said that the party goes until 2 a.m., but you don’t want to be the last one to leave. Typically the person who is the last to leave the company party is the drunkest, and in many cases they end up having to be carried out and put into a cab. The worst part? When your boss is the one carrying you out.