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Company Holiday Party Etiquette 101: Common Sense?

My colleagues and I agree: Sharing advice on how to behave at the company holiday party is pretty boring stuff. You’ve heard it all before, right?


Most professionals know the etiquette. Do we always follow it? While we try, sometimes when we are out with others enjoying ourselves in a relaxed atmosphere we forget the rules that seem so simple they don’t need to be spelled out for us. But we should keep in mind that at the company holiday party our actions can have consequences. So, let’s take a look at what can happen and what we can learn from a few object lessons. All of these stories are true:

  • A colleague brings his sister to the holiday party. She drinks too much and--ends up sick in the bathroom Happens, right? This time, however, the boss’s wife was the one who took care of her. Lesson: Don’t drink too much and consider a two drink minimum to play it safe.
  • A company decided to hold two holiday parties, for two different groups of employees. One was formal; the other had a Western theme. How could anything go wrong? One employee invited to the formal party got his signals crossed and showed up at the soiree in Western gear. Lesson: Pay close attention to the invite.
  • Comfortable with her social circle in the office, one employee huddled with co-workers and began her usual complaints about the boss. Unbeknownst to her, one of the boss’s colleagues was standing nearby, listening to the conversation. Lesson: Stick to neutral topics and mingle.

We don’t want to be preachy--or a wet blanket. We want you to accept your company’s invitation to the holiday party—a gesture on management’s part to thank you for your hard work and contributions throughout the year—and have fun. Plus, being present and engaging may help you further your career. So, in the spirit of holiday giving, we want to leave you with a few words of advice on how to get the most out of the company party this year:

  • Respond to the invitation promptly.
  • Show up if you indicated that you will be attending—it’s polite.
  • Introduce yourself to colleagues in other departments and company leaders.
  • Talk to people!
  • Don't overshare on social media.
  • Thank the organizers for putting together the party.

Happy Holidays!

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