How to NOT Embarrass Yourself at the Holiday Office Party

‘Tis the season for holiday office parties, which carry a connotation for drama these days, don’t they?

I can’t help but think back to the classic series, The Office, and remember how much trouble those Dunder Mifflin employees get into during this time of year. Let me go on the record as saying you do not want to be the Meredith of your office’s holiday party.

So here are my top tips on how to stay off the naughty list at your office’s holiday party this year:

1. Be Merry – in Moderation

Part of what makes these parties such a powder keg for drama is the combination of lots of drinking with your coworkers. So do whatever you must to sip your drink slowly to keep yourself from going overboard. If you’re no good at sipping, another best practice is to alternate drinks. For every alcoholic beverage you consume, make the next one a virgin cocktail or a water. My personal favorite trick: ask for a soda water with a slice of lime from the bartender. It looks like a cocktail, tastes refreshing, and will help you stay hydrated.

The most important thing to remember is to know thyself. If you’re like me and you’re a total lightweight with a tendency to run your mouth: just stay sober! No one says you have to get toasted with Tony from accounting. And if you don’t feel like you can be your uninhibited self around your coworkers, just keep the booze at bay.

2. Dress Festive – But Keep it Professional

Holiday party attire calls for a more festive look than your everyday office wear, sure. But that doesn’t mean wearing what you might rock at the club.

And listen, I’m always reticent to give fashion advice because a) I hate the idea of policing women’s bodies when really it’s people who harass women who need to lock it up and b) most of the time, I could use fashion advice myself, let’s be real.

For me, I typically up my accessories game with bigger, brighter, 0r more sparkly “icing” as Matthew McConaughey might call it in the cheesy as hell but delightful 2003 classic, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

You can always elevate your look with a fun shoe, bag, or extra-adventures makeup while still keeping your attire work-appropriate. So have fun with it, but remember: any office dress code you have in your employee handbook still applies.

3. Introduce Yourself to the Big Wigs

Yes, holiday parties are an opportunity to embarrass yourself, but they’re also an opportunity to make a good impression with the higher-ups you might not have everyday access to. Take advantage of that, boss!

Make sure to introduce yourself to the c-suite and do your homework in advance to know a thing or two about what they’re focused on these days. Make sure to mention whose team you’re on and what projects you’re working on, and don’t be shy when it comes to expressing that you’re interested in continued growth.

Just keep in mind, this isn’t an office meeting, it’s a party. So avoid talking shop exclusively and make the effort to connect with your colleagues on a more personal level. It’s also an opportunity to meet their partners, if they’re invited, too.

4. Prepare your plus one

If you do end up brining a spouse or some one you’re dating to your office party, make sure to prep them on the way. All the best practices above – including not getting schwasted – absolutely apply to them, too.

You might also want to brief them on who the players are at work, who to avoid, and who they might have something in common to talk about. And if anything in your personal life is explicitly off limits for discussion amongst coworkers – like a cross-country move you’re considering, or the fact that you’re trying to conceive your first child – make sure to set those boundaries clearly.

Happy Holidays, boss!

At the end of the day, an office holiday party should be a place where you can unwind, have a bit of fun, and celebrate with the folks you work side-by-side with the rest of the year.

But a little forethought can go a long way in keeping your professional reputation that you’ve worked so hard for from being overshadowed by an office party incident. And hey – if you know someone who could use this reminder, make sure to share this post on social media now.


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