Surviving Your Employer’s Holiday Party

Published: Dec 13, 2023

 Career Readiness       Workplace Issues       
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The holiday season is here, which means your employer is probably about to invite you to its annual holiday party. Company parties can be a lot of fun, and they may even provide you with the opportunity to make some new network connections, but there are some things you should watch out for. Today we’re going to show you how to party like a true professional, so without further ado, let’s get started.

Dress Appropriately

Whether your company’s holiday party is at the office or another location, it’s important to choose an outfit that’s appropriate for the occasion. In other words, you shouldn’t show up wearing that sweet Tommy Bahama button down you just picked up. Remember, this is a work event, so when putting your outfit together, ask yourself: “would I wear this to work or in a meeting with clients?” Think of your company’s holiday party as an opportunity to make a good impression, and dress accordingly.

Your Plus One

It’s pretty common for company holiday parties to follow a strict “employees only” rule, but if your company allows you to bring a date, be selective. To your coworkers and your boss, your guest can be a good indicator of the type of person you are and the kinds of choices you make. It’s also important to make sure your guest is dressed appropriately, so have them show you their outfit beforehand.

If your guest is someone that you’ve known for a long time and you trust them, you’re most likely in the clear; however, if you’re dating someone new and you don’t know them all that well, your company’s holiday party might not be the best place for a test run. Remember, if your guest is acting inappropriately in any way, it won’t be a good look for you. You also have the option of going alone if you are unable to find someone or you don’t want to bring anyone.

Talk to Everyone

It can be easy to stick close by with coworkers you’re already familiar with, but a company holiday party is a great opportunity to get to acquainted with people you don’t always get a chance to talk to. Make the effort to say hello to as many people as you can, and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation. Think of your company’s holiday party as being a practice run for future networking events.

Keep it Light

Building off of our last entry, it’s important to remember that while this is a work event, you should try to have some fun. When speaking with your coworkers, keep the work talk to a minimum and focus more on socializing. With the holiday season in full swing, travel plans are a great topic for conversation. You could also talk about any shows or movies you’ve recently watched, sports, or video games—just make sure the topics are safe for work.

Watch Your Intake

At the holiday party there’s bound to be a variety of alcoholic beverages, but that doesn’t mean you have to partake. Remember, your coworkers and your boss are also going to be at the party, so it’s important that you keep your head straight. Depending on your age and how much experience you have, you might have already witnessed some rather “interesting” behavior at company holiday parties—don’t let this be you!

Your best bet is to have a couple soft drinks throughout the party; however, if you absolutely must have an alcoholic beverage with your coworkers, keep it to a minimum. A great tactic for this is to simply nurse one drink, ensuring that you maintain your sobriety all evening. When it comes to any work event you want to be on your best behavior, so make sure you don’t fall into this trap.

Say Thank You

A lot goes into throwing a holiday party, so take the time to thank the organizers. In most cases, work events are organized by the human resources department or the office manager; however, some companies might have a separate party planning committee that’s responsible for setting up holiday parties and other team-building events. A simple “thank you” goes a long way, and you’ll be remembered as being a kind, thoughtful person.

Show Your Face

You might be wondering if you’re required to attend your company’s holiday party, and the simple answer is “yes.” Going to the holiday party will show that you’re invested in the company, and there will be many opportunities to make good impressions on your boss and coworkers, so it would be to your advantage to attend. In fact, it’s important that you let your boss see you at the party, even if you only go for a short time.

The holiday party could take place during work hours, or it could take place in the evening or on a weekend. If it’s after hours and there’s a reason you are unable to attend, make sure you let your boss know ahead of time, explaining that you won’t be able to make the party due to a prior engagement. Keep in mind that certain managers take the holiday party very seriously, and their opinion of you might be affected in the event you don’t go. Unfortunately, this is the reality in some cases, so take care when considering whether you’re going to attend or not.