The countdown to the holiday break is on, and whether you’ll be celebrating on Dec. 25 or not, we’re confident that at the very least, the upcoming holiday will present you with the opportunity to take at least a day or two off from work — and we’ll toast a boozy hot chocolate to that! Before it gets a little too rowdy with the beverages, though, let’s turn our attention to a staple of the season that you’re likely preparing to navigate before that sweet, sweet OOO time: the office holiday party.
While there may be lessons to be learned from the movies about company holiday parties, we’ve turned to a few other experts in order to put together a quick refresher on what not to do when you’re rockin’ around the Christmas tree with your coworkers. Keep scrolling for seven office holiday party don’ts from LinkedIn career expert Blair Decembrele and international business etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer.
1. Don’t forget to RSVP. Whether the invite for the office party comes through as an email or paper card, be sure to let the host know if you’ll be attending. And as much as you might be tempted not to show up — according to a recent poll from The Tylt, 66 percent of millennials classify office parties as “lame” — making an appearance is really important. “Attendance is practically mandatory,” Schweitzer says. “Failing to go to the annual holiday party sends a negative message. Executives and upper management will take note.”
2. Don’t guess when it comes to gifting. If you’re new to your team or company and this is your first go at the office holiday party, take note! See what you can find out ahead of time about the way gifts have been handled at the same event in the past. When in doubt, Decembrele suggests that you ask a trusted work colleague or HR. And if giving gifts to colleagues is the norm, consider baked goods or something else homemade.
3. Don’t automatically assume you can bring a guest. We know you want to enjoy as much quality time with your partner or your BFF as possible during the holiday season, but the office holiday celebration probably isn’t the place to do it. Some companies will allow significant others to be invited to their parties, but Schweitzer urges you to pay close attention to any language on the invitation that indicates that the event is “Employees Only.” If you’re still not sure, ask!
4. Don’t forget to network. Don’t behave at the office holiday party the way you did at the middle school dance. These parties are more than just the means to an open bar. They’re also great opportunities to network with colleagues you normally don’t get to chat with. “While your instinct may be to stick to your work BFF’s side all night, don’t get stuck in your comfort zone,” Decembrele says. “Holiday office parties are the perfect opportunity to network.” According to a survey from LinkedIn, 47 percent of US professionals have seen a positive impact at work from attending a holiday celebration. Take advantage of the face time!
5. Don’t show up hungry. That buffet might look delicious, but it’s not there solely for your enjoyment — and treating it as though it is will make it difficult for you to socialize freely with your colleagues. Have a snack before you arrive so you won’t be desperate for the cheese plate the minute you walk through the door. Schweitzer also reminds us of basic food etiquette: “Avoid walking around with a full plate, do not double dip or eat over the chafing dish, and properly discard toothpicks, napkins, and plates.” In other words, don’t get caught tucking a half-empty plate behind a centerpiece!
6. Don’t be a cliché. It’s a tale as old as time — a little too much to drink on the company tab and suddenly you’ve transitioned from work mode to party mode faster than the speed of Santa’s sleigh. Holiday party faux-pas are common (according to LinkedIn, more than two-thirds of professionals cop to one), but that doesn’t mean that drunken antics should fly. An easy rule of thumb? “If you’re trying to decide whether or not an outfit or conversation topic is right for the party, ask yourself if it would fly in your cubicle,” Decembrele advises.
7. Don’t clap for yourself. Congratulations! The boss is raising a glass to you and your hard work this year! So, what’s the right move as your coworkers applaud? According to Schweitzer, it’s best so simply raise your glass quietly. Clap for your colleagues as they’re recognized, but play it cool when it’s your turn.
Do you have any office holiday party horror stories? Tweet us @BritAndCo!
(Photo via Getty)