As the holidays and its accompanying holiday parties approach, good etiquette means, first and foremost, being yourself and behaving within your comfort zone. There are no hard and fast rules about party etiquette. Different companies have different cultures and tolerances for things like drinking, showing leg at a holiday party, etc. That said here are a few specific thoughts:
- Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway: if alcohol is being served, it’s best to drink in moderation. Obviously, you need to use some common sense, and to have access to that common sense, you shouldn’t drink too much. Take notice how much bosses and peers are drinking as a guideline; it’s best to keep on the soberer side of everyone else. If you’re NOT a drinker—or if you’re not comfortable drinking around colleagues—well then, don’t drink! Since the corollary to being yourself at the holiday party is letting others be themselves, try not to judge others and their own fermented predilections. This means not rolling your eyes when a colleague orders their sixth Jack ‘N Coke or passing comment when he or she later throws up in the CEO’s lap top bag.
- If you don’t like bowling, then don’t bowl! You can always participate in some other way at office party games: for example, you can watch others bowl and cheer them on. Don’t sulk in the corner, waiting impatiently for your associates’ fun to end.
- Walk and dress on the less-wilder side. I’m not sure what historical moment it was that holiday dress changed from bright colors and frills to elf ears and mini-skirts, but unless it’s the norm at your company party to show up three-quarters naked, wear something festive but conservative.
- Network? But, of course! However, there’s no need to go for the kill at the holiday party. Just talk… laugh… and enjoy yourself. Be comfortable. Keep in mind that this is not the last time you’re going to have access to these people… after all, you work with them! Use the opportunity at a party to build bonds with your colleagues. Does this mean that you should never talk shop at a party? Of course not. But it’s too easy to fall over the cliff… to inadvertently be the guy or gal who crushed the holiday cheer by talking too much business. Tact and consideration say such party-pooper behavior is just not worth the risk.
- Then again, don’t “over-bond”. One-night stands with colleagues have a tendency to bring disharmony to the office come Monday morning. ‘Tis the season to flirt, but keep your shirt…on’ (worst holiday poem ever). Though it might be difficult to restrain your libido in a party-like atmosphere, especially if a punch-bowl is one of the guests, try to do so anyway.