Holiday Party Etiquette: Some Do’s and Don’ts

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By: Marie Donlon

December is often a time for celebration, shopping, overindulgence, and overall merriment as the holiday season arrives. And, of course, it is usually time for another tradition: the office holiday party.

Regardless of whether you look forward to socializing with coworkers after hours or if you dread the awkward and stilted exchanges with people that you know little about outside of the office, you definitely don’t want to be the person people are whispering about in the office the next day.

Here are just a few tips to keep in mind as you navigate the minefield that can be the annual office holiday party.

Avoid Overdoing It

By all means, if a drink will help you relax (and let’s face it, it probably will) have one, maybe even two. However, if you are behaving in a way that might draw attention, say dancing on top of the bar or throwing up in the parking lot, you might want to reconsider your limit.

A good rule of thumb, according to experts is limiting your drink intake to one an hour.

“Don’t be lured into thinking that you’re at a party with your friends,” said Dr. Patty Ann Tublin, a behavioral and relationship expert. “You might get a huge laugh if you’re the guy or lady standing on the bar with the lampshade on your head, but that can be career suicide the next day. People will view that as an absence of self-control, whether that’s fair or not.”


Instead of hiding out in a corner with your usual group of coworker/friends, consider venturing out and meeting new employees or folks you have little contact with in the office.

“It’s a good opportunity for you to mingle with people like the higher-ups and the people you don’t see every day who can be influential in your life,” said Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert who wrote the e-book The Do’s and Don’ts of Holiday Parties.

Additionally, when talking to higher-ups, don’t use this time as an opportunity to badmouth the company or to lodge complaints about pay or anything else. This is a time to celebrate and not an opportunity to air your grievances.

Also, if you do get one-on-one time with those hosting the party, don’t monopolize them. Thank them for hosting (if this is the case) and move on.

Dress Appropriately

No matter where the event is being held, keep in mind that you are attending a work function. That means nothing too revealing yet nothing overly casual. Use your day-to-day attire as inspiration for dressing for the party.

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