Holiday Company Party Etiquette
The key to presenting yourself well at your company party or social gathering is to always remember everyone's watching
T’is the season for celebration and that includes businesses. Office parties are wonderful team morale building events and times to celebrate after a year of hard work. So go ahead and have fun. Just remember that it is still a work function. Forgetting that can be disastrous. Here are some tips from the pros for employees, new and experienced, that will help you get through the office festivities in good form.
Here are 8 simple rules to get you through the Office Party with your reputation and job intact.
1. Avoid engaging in gossip or sharing juicy stories.
Getting caught up in the he said, she said trap or badmouthing colleagues or superiors is a definite no-no. Avoid the gossip and keep the conversation strictly PG and casual. Remember, you are still in a work environment, so behave as though you are at work. Do not say or do anything you would not say or do at work.
2. Do not drink too much.
If alcohol is offered and consumed, keep it too the legal limit of 1 drink per hour. Intoxication will not put you in a positive light and could lead to behavior that you will regret, at best, or leave you reprimanded or unemployed, at worst. Your colleagues and superiors are always watching and judging your every move. A staff party is no exception.
3. Eat politely.
Gauge how much you should eat against the portions given and the number of people present. You want to be polite not gluttonous. If it is an appetizers and hors d’oeuvres event, nibble, even if that means you need to have a meal after the party is over. Rather than taking a doggie bag home, ask for the recipes instead.
4. Know the dress code and dress appropriately.
Be mindful that how you present yourself physically is how you will be perceived. Make sure you know the dress code for the event and dress within those limits. The office party is not the place to wear that slinky, revealing dress, or a bit too tight pair of pants. Be professional always.
5. Keep the conversations brief.
There will always be those people that you find easy to talk to and it can be tempting to extend the conversation as long as possible. However, office parties are for team building and relationship building in a social setting so it is best to keep your conversations brief and move on. A good rule of thumb is to limit them to no more than 15 minutes, unless it is the boss. When talking with your superiors, follow their lead or politely end the conversation when there is a natural break. Your superiors could be testing you.
In keeping with the previous, move around the room and approach your colleagues to engage in conversations. Don’t be the person that people have to come to if they want to talk. That sends messages of arrogance or antisocial tendencies that are not conducive to a workplace social gathering. This is a good time to talk with executives and superiors that you may not get to speak with otherwise.
7. Do not leave too early.
Judging when is an appropriate time to leave an office party can be difficult. You don’t want to be the first or last to leave. If it is a dinner party, stay for the entire meal in order to be respectful and appreciative. Plan to stay for at least an hour, unless there is an emergency that requires your immediate attention. Even though the office party is still a work related event, it is expected that employees and guests use the occasion to relax, mingle, and get to know each other and their superiors on a more personal level.
8. Always have a hand free to shake hands with others.
As you mix and mingle, it is an expected professional courtesy to shake hands while greeting others, so make sure you always have a hand available.
9. Bring a gift for the host or organizer of the party and send a thank you.
Organizing and/or hosting a staff party takes a lot of planning and effort. Arriving empty handed is frowned upon. You want to be courteous and gracious so bring a small gift for the host. It is best to find out what kind of gathering it is and a little something about the host so that you bring something that is in good taste and appropriate. Do not get something that makes them work, like uncut flowers, they have done enough already. Send a thank you out to the host and all those who helped organize the party the next day. Again, this speaks to your appreciative character and puts you in a positive light.
Even if you dread the idea of spending your off hours with the people you work with and for, make an appearance. Stay for a reasonable amount of time and then say your thank yous and good byes before you depart. Although office parties are ‘optional,’ it demonstrates that you are a team player if you attend. Remember, you are always being observed and evaluated. The company put a lot of time and expense into holding a work social. The least you could do is show up.
11. Ask before bringing a guest.
Before inviting friends or significant others, find out from the host, whether guests are allowed and how many. Many events are +1 but not always. Use your discretion when allowed guests. Only bring guests who you are confident will represent you well and fit into your workplace. If you bring someone with you, always introduce them to whomever you speak with and include them in the conversation.