Like them or not, office parties and celebrations are here to stay.
The same goes for all the regrets, shame, and not-so-flattering nicknames that might result if things get out of hand while you’re sipping on your eggnog.
And yes, such a booze-filled scenario is more than possible – 26% of people have done something they’re not exactly proud of at a company party, while 16% are so embarrassed that they decide to call in sick the next day.
Here are a couple of tips that will keep you safe from compromising your business reputation.
Do Show Up
Approximately 90% of people aren’t thrilled when they receive an office party invitation.
However, unless you absolutely have to skip it due to some family issues or important appointments, it’s more than desirable to show up. In that case, don’t forget to RSVP as early as possible so that the company can plan their catering and entertainment accordingly.
It’s particularly rude to say that you will come and then fail to show up.
Your potential absence can seem as if you’re not committed to the company and you can bet that your boss and the people from the management will notice this.
An office celebration is a great opportunity to build relationships with your co-workers and present yourself as a team player, all of which can come in pretty handy when it comes to making it in the corporate world.
Dress for Success
It’s OK to look sharp and stylish at an office party, but a sequin dress which will make you look like a chandelier while a shiny, over-the-top suit simply won’t cut it.
Also, keep in mind that looking festive can be achieved without showing too much skin.
Remember that it’s still a business event, as well as that your co-workers and higher-ups will be in attendance, so play it safe by opting for something elegant.
It’s best to check with your boss whether there’s a certain dress code that you’ll have to adhere to because some venues require the black-tie attire.
So, clothes that are too tight, too short, too revealing, or anything beginning with the “too” should stay in your wardrobe for some other occasion, preferably not a business one.
Naturally, a T-shirt and jeans isn’t the best choice either.
Mind Your Drinks
Many companies have an open bar, which means that it’s pretty easy to get carried away and start downing your drinks one after another.
The next scene usually pictures you laughing out loud and spilling your scotch on yourself, or even worse, on somebody else.
The trick is to take that “moderation in all things” quote to heart and limit yourself to no more than two drinks.
Instead of booze, you can refresh yourself with water and non-alcoholic beverages.
Go Easy on Hors d’Oeuvres
Who doesn’t love free food?
But, those delicious canapés or meatballs will undoubtedly leave some grease on your fingers which can be pretty awkward when you need to greet and shake hands with someone.
Also, speaking with your mouth full of food not only isn’t the prettiest sight, but it’s also a crime against good manners.
To prevent yourself from wolfing down all those crab cakes from the buffet, it’s a good idea to eat something before the party.
Finally, don’t double dip your food (it’s gross!) or ask for a doggy bag (it’s plain weird.)
Guests or Not?
Before you decide to bring your plus one, ask the people who plan whether it’s ok.
Don’t simply think that if your spouse knows your co-workers and boss that they should tag along.
Although many companies allow spouses and dates to accompany their employees, don’t forget that sometimes there are budget constraints which limit the number of guests.
Besides, it would be totally inappropriate to bring someone to a party intended for employees only, not to mention how uncomfortable it will make everybody feel.
In case you can bring your significant other, let them know what topics are off-limits and how they should dress.
It’s important to emphasize that their behavior will reflect on you and your career.
Don’t Talk Your Colleagues’ Ears Off
While it’s a good idea to be friendly, don’t exaggerate and hold your co-workers and people you want to connect with hostage by making them listen to your endless stories about that particularly annoying customer or the new product which is about to be released.
A good rule of thumb is to limit your conversations to five minutes and stay on the safe side.
Parties are for mingling, small talk, and entertaining topics, so don’t try to talk business.
Cracking jokes is fine, but being the life of the party carries the risk of unwittingly offending somebody or saying something inappropriate.
Forget about sensitive topics such as politics or religion.
Many people, after spirits lift their spirits, reckon that a little innocent flirting won’t hurt anyone.
The next morning, their commute to work turns into a walk of shame.
Having an affair with a co-worker is always a bad thing, not to mention that many companies frown upon office romances, so keep your eyes/hands/lips to yourself.
The same as the above goes for posting “funny” pictures of the other guests behaving inappropriately or leaving public comments about how the office party is a yawner while the food is barely edible.
What Should Employers Know?
Just like employees need to follow some guidelines when it comes to the business-party etiquette, there are a couple of things employers have to bear in mind.
- Allow plus-ones. If you want your employees to feel comfortable and accepted, encourage them to bring their partners. That way you’ll ensure that even shy and introvert people have a familiar face in the crowd.
- Attendance shouldn’t be mandatory. No matter how much you want people to attend your company celebration, don’t make it a requirement.
- Hire an experienced event planner to help you throw a great company party and make things run smoothly.
- Don’t host your parties during the weekend. It’s much better to opt for a work day and let your employees have weekends for themselves. Also, try not to make it too late of a night, and even if that happens, let your employees know that they can leave earlier.
So, regardless of how you feel about company events, you should always try to be in attendance and try to put your best foot forward. Maintaining a healthy balance between partying the Lindsay Lohan style and standing aloofly in some distant corner of the room is what you should aim at.