How To Survive the Company Holiday Party

The holiday season has arrived and many of you will face the company holiday party with a mixture of anticipation and dread – anticipation for the chance to mingle informally with colleagues and make a positive impression; dread about making a career misstep that could be a setback, if not career suicide.

Here are some simple rules to keep in mind that will maximize your enjoyment of the event and protect your professional reputation:

1. Attend:

Attendance is not optional. Plan your departure time in advance and stick to it. Arrive on time. Stay at least an hour before making an exit. Make sure any early exit is quick and discrete. On the flip side, don’t be the last to leave, either.

2. Dress For Success:

Be conservative in your sartorial selections. This is not the event to make a fashion statement. You do not want to be remembered the day after for what you wore (or didn’t…)

3. Network:

This is time to mingle and mix with colleagues from other departments and more senior managers. If you do this well, you can effectively begin building and even strengthening relationships.
• Do some research pre-event so you know who’s who, and think through some business relevant points you’d like to make if you have the chance.
• Be gracious and introduce anyone you bring as your guest to your colleagues.

4. Exercise self-restraint:

In this age of instantaneous social media, don’t do or say anything you wouldn’t be proud to share with the “world.”
• Don’t overdo the alcohol (e.g., pace yourself with non-alcoholic choices outnumbering alcoholic choices at least 2 to 1)
• Don’t overdo the food (e.g., probably not a good idea to stake out territory by the buffet table.)
• Don’t overdo it on the dance floor (e.g., take a pass on burning up the dance floor with your latest and greatest moves.)
• Limit “shop talk” as much as possible and engage in appropriate small talk (e.g., no gossip, off color remarks, or griping/whining/moaning )
• Do not flirt or pursue a “romantic interest” — save it for non-work related opportunities.

5. Be Present:

Turn your cell phones off and be totally present in the moment. You can do this for an hour or two. Trust us!

A company holiday party is a business function that has social aspects. If you keep this fact up front and center at all times you’ll have nothing to dread and everything to gain. Just keep “moderation” as your mantra and relax and enjoy the festivities!

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