10 Rules You Must Follow at Your Office Holiday Party

By Robert Half on November 18, 2019 at 2:04pm

The office holiday party can be a great opportunity to mingle with colleagues in a fun setting and network with executives. However, we've also all heard horror stories about employees who've had a poor showing at these events. Who could forget when Jennifer passed out under the table or when George fought with the boss?

“Year-end holiday parties are a great way for companies to show their appreciation, and celebrate their team’s achievements collectively,” said Greg Scileppi, president of Robert Half, International Staffing Operations. “While these events encourage employee engagement and comradery, embarrassing stories from the evening tend to live-on around the watercooler, and can have longer-term career implications as word spreads.” 

Is your employer planning to hold a holiday party this year? If so, this party etiquette list is for you: 

  1. Be there with bells on (but not literally): While there typically isn't a rule forcing you to attend the holiday party, you should do your best to show up to the festivities.
  2. Have a pre-party snack: Eating a bit beforehand will help you focus on those around you and not on the buffet table. Plus a little food in the belly pre-eggnog is always a good idea.
  3. Consider your "plus-one" carefully: If guests are allowed, choose wisely. Your guest's behaviour is a reflection of you. 
  4. Keep it classy: Find out the dress code and stick with it. Avoid anything that is overly festive or revealing.
  5. Limit shoptalk: Come with conversation starters in mind so the focus isn't on business the entire evening.
  6. Take it easy on the eggnog: Exhibit good judgment. Don't overindulge in alcoholic beverages.
  7. Branch out: Use the opportunity to mingle with people outside your department. Try and mingle with executives if you can.
  8. Leave the bah-humbug attitude at home: Keep discussions positive and upbeat; avoid controversial topics like politics.
  9. Know when to go: Don't be the first - or last - to go. Make your exit with the bulk of the crowd.
  10. End of a high note: Show your appreciation to the host or those who worked on the event by thanking them in person or sending an email afterward.

Interested in hearing more about those horror stories mentioned earlier? In a Robert Half study, Canadian CFOs were asked about the most embarrassing thing they have seen or heard about a manager doing at a company holiday party. Check out the slideshow for some of the worst.


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