It’s the holidays and you’ve been invited to a very important party. You dust off the ornament-adorned sweater or break out the candy cane-imprinted tie and you’re ready to go, right?
It’s not only your holiday-themed clothes that need a quick brush up, so do your holiday manners. Even though parties may not be as lavish as they were in the past, or your group of entrepreneurial friends is small, you still need to shine. Here are some quick guidelines to help.
Do dress professionally.
The holiday party is an extension of the office environment, so stand out by dressing up. Avoid clothes that are too casual or too provocative. You can be festive, but be more conservative than if you were heading out to a night at the club.
Do keep things light and fun.
We attend holiday parties to celebrate a profitable year, a gathering of friends, or things to come. Keep the conversation festive as well, with light topics, avoiding politics or work. Talk about all the things you have to celebrate this year…outside of work. When in doubt, almost everyone loves to talk about travel, happy memories and great food.
Do get to know people personally.
Use the holiday party as an opportunity to get to know your boss, mentor, colleagues or co-workers on a personal level. Introduce yourself to their spouses and families if they are present, and talk about hobbies, interests, or holiday traditions. This may be the ideal opportunity to interact with those you don’t see throughout the year.
Bring a guest, if they are invited.
If the invitation includes a guest, do invite one. Others at the party will get to know a personal side of you and learn more about who you are as a person. But bear in mind that it's better to go alone versus bringing someone who will embarrass you.
Don't bring an uninvited guest.
Smaller holiday parties may not have the room or resources to include outside guests. If you’re not sure if you can invite someone, definitely ask, and honor that request.
Don't be inappropriate.
Since people are a little more relaxed at holiday parties, they may say things they normally would not. Be mindful of what you say, and hold off on the off-color jokes or comments that may offend others. Also, don’t gossip about others. Office parties are not the time to let loose too much and let the good times roll. Always maintain a sense of professionalism.
Don't talk shop.
This is the time to relax and enjoy. Remember, you’re not at work. Find topics outside of the everyday grind or complaints to talk about, keeping the chatter light and fun. Be sure to include guests and spouses in the conversations. Don't be a wallflower. If you see someone sitting alone, introduce yourself and start a conversation.
A holiday party is not the place to show others how much you can drink. Remember that the office party is still an extension of the office, and you certainly don’t want to be the topic of conversation on Monday or turn off those you’ve tried so hard to impress throughout the year. Don’t question people who choose not to drink, as well. Remember your manners and don’t overeat or overload your cocktail plate with food. The food should not be your main focus. Concentrate more on the other guests and less on the chicken wings. It’s okay to eat heartily, but neatly. You can always return for seconds.
By all means, enjoy yourself, learn a little bit about some of the people with whom you work, and toast to a wonderful New Year ahead.