Surviving the Office Holiday Party

by | Business Success Tools

What exactly did you do to deserve this?

After working hard all year, steering your company through a difficult economy and struggling to grow in an increasingly competitive marketplace, your reward is …the annual office holiday party?


The hard part about the office party is that you’re expected to have a good time (and, who knows? Maybe you’d actually like to have a good time, assuming your co-workers are pleasant and somewhat interesting). But if you have too good of a time, they’ll be talking about you until at least Memorial Day. So you’re forced to strike this weird balance between cutting loose and maintaining your professional edge. It’s like a circus tightrope act.

The good news is, it’s fairly easy to have a decent time at the holiday get-together without blowing your reputation. It just takes some planning and good judgment. Here are a few tips to make sure you come off like the tightrope walker, and not the guy who gets shot out of the cannon.

You Gotta Go

Yes, you do.

Barring some legitimate emergency or business-related event that keeps you away, you need to make an appearance. People will notice, so don’t even think about not showing up. If you’re the host or boss, it shows appreciation for the people who helped you get through the year. If you’re a guest, you need to acknowledge the generosity of the people who put time, money and energy into pulling-off the event.

Tip: No one says you need to stay for the duration. If you’re genuinely uncomfortable, then make it a point to arrive early and leave early. (Think FIFO accounting. That’s first in, first out.) It won’t kill you show up right on time and then stay for an hour or so to wish everyone a pleasant holiday season. Make your rounds and step out before the party revs-up. And don’t worry. On Monday morning, someone will be always be glad to fill you in on everything you missed.

Plan Ahead

You have a responsibility to yourself to stay in control. One way to do that is with smart planning. On the day of the event make sure you:

  • Eat a filling meal before the party. This will make sure you don’t “pig out” in front of your co-workers, and, if you choose to indulge in adult beverages, a big meal lets you do so on a full stomach.
  • Dress appropriately. Unless the plan is for dodge ball or tobogganing, rules for normal work attire apply.
  • Plan your exit. Are you driving home? Fine, but watch your beverage intake. If you’re not driving, arrange a ride, or find out if taxis are available. And if you do intend to have someone else get you home, don’t forget your house keys in your office desk drawer.

Pace Yourself and Know Your Limit

It was touched on before, but it bears specific mentioning that letting your holiday cheer get out of control can end very, very badly for everyone.

If you decide to drink, stay with beverages you are familiar with. Tonight’s not the time to experiment with “Mind Erasers” or “Traumatic Head Injuries.”

And, of course, know your limit and stick to it. Two drinks over a two or three hour stay at the holiday bash is plenty, Sparky!

Tip: Alternate your beverage of choice with a glass of water. This both slows down your alcohol intake and helps you stay hydrated. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

Leave Work at the Office

You won’t score points on this particular occasion by asking about high-priority projects, pending proposals, or sales projections. Take the opportunity to actually get to know some of your employees or co-workers better. Ask about their families, their hobbies, or their holiday plans. Generally speaking, you’ll be more interesting to them at work if you show interest in them as people away from work.

Tip: One exception. If a co-worker has just marked some significant achievement – a promotion, a huge sale, or the completion of a successful long-term project and you have yet to congratulate him or her, it’s appropriate to do so at the holiday party.


What does that mean, specifically?

First, in an age where everyone has a camera imbedded in their phones, it means don’t do anything you don’t want to have lurking around the Internet forever.

Second, most of us are better off staying off the dance floor. Especially men….and especially men over 40. But, with that said, women should use a little discretion, too. Take it from Elaine.

On behalf of everyone at MP Star Financial, have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

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