Surviving The Company Christmas Party

By Kristi Mexia

September 4, 2012 4 min read

It looms. The annual company festivity is creeping around the cheery corporate corner and remains one of the year's best balancing acts. You don't want to be the awkward anti-social in the corner, but you also don't want to be the power partyer doing the Dougie on the dance floor. The safe middle ground is somewhere in between charming and casual. Conquer Christmas and keep your career with these tips.

1) Don't play sick. You can't earn any bonus points by claiming your dog got kennel cough. Show up to your company's party, even if you think you would have more fun puking in the punch bowl. Attending the annual schmooze-fest shows you're invested in not only the company but also its culture and your co-workers.

2) Dress nicely. Depending on what the office invite says, try to leave that ugly Christmas sweater at home. "The key word in 'holiday office party' is 'office,'" etiquette expert Julie Blais Comeau told The Huffington Post. "It's still an office function, and you are still an ambassador of your company." General rule of dressing thumb: Don't wear anything you wouldn't wear to a family get-together.

3) Be friendly. It seems simple enough, but sometimes it can be hard to follow through with. Be sure to make the rounds and visit with as many co-workers as possible. If this seems hard to handle, just make sure you are not caught gossiping about the new hire in the corner. It should be your goal to talk to at least one person at the party with whom you don't regularly mingle at work. Though you might feel a bit awkward, the person will appreciate your openness and will be likelier to help you should you need it in the future.

4) Pick a polite plus-one. If you're reliving your college days and dating a guy once nicknamed "Power Hour Hal," consider coming solo. Your plus-one pick is an extension of yourself. If he or she gets caught telling inappropriate jokes, drinking too much or dressing incongruously, no matter the profuse apologies, you can consider yourself office gossip for the next week, at least.

5) Two-drink maximum. Should your company spring for taxi vouchers, still watch your alcoholic intake. One too many eggnogs and you could find yourself sliding down the stairs and your career out the door. With company cutbacks on the rise, it is important to remember what really matters -- your job. Oh, and not giving your boss a reason to cut it.

6) No PDA. Handholding should be the loving limit for this holiday extravaganza. Concentrate on getting to know your co-workers instead of getting on base, even if you're not quite sure you could get your hot date to hold out for a second round.

7) Don't hit on the intern. Company "policies apply to events outside of the routine 9-5 environment," too, says LegalZoom.com. Even though you think that you might have a chance with the office cutie, your supervisors and HR will be there and know "what to do if they witness or hear of potential harassment." Besides, if you get shot down, it could result in a bruised ego and a reputation around the office, possibly damaging your perceived professionalism and career goals.

8) Show up to work the next day. Should your company bash fall on a weekday, make sure to drag yourself to work the next day. Not showing up could start the rumor mill about how Peggy in accounting saw you gulping Christmas cocktails in the bathroom. While this may or may not be true, it's best to show up to work with a smile on your face.

9) Be grateful. Someone somewhere somehow had to throw this shindig together, and no matter how much fun you did or did not have, make sure to thank your host and party planner. Being thankful is polite and will leave your host thinking what a great employee you are.

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