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Party Fouls

If your company is hosting a holiday party and you want to keep your job, here are some simple etiquette rules to follow.

Preview Staff
November 28, 2018

Office holiday parties can be fun and festive if everyone is on their best behavior — or disastrous when too many people decide to let loose. Unfortunately, the latter happens far too often. Keep in mind that you’ll have to face these people at the copier or in a meeting sooner or later.

Remember that although the holiday party is a time to celebrate, this activity is still a business event and how you behave matters. People have said and done all sorts of inappropriate things that have impacted their career because they didn’t follow simple etiquette rules. It’s either going to be one of the social highlights of your holiday season or the humiliating disaster you spend the next 12 months living down.

According to a CareerBuilder survey, nearly 70 percent of employers say they’ll throw a holiday party this year. If your company is one of them and you want to keep your job and reputation intact, here are some simple etiquette rules to follow:

Don’t skip it
Unless you already have other plans that you can’t miss or change, show up. You may not want to go, but it’s important that you show your commitment to the company. Your absence will be noticed, and most likely, noted by your boss and other higher-ups. If you absolutely can’t go, you should at least RSVP with your regrets as early as possible.

Don’t fail to prepare your guest or significant other
Many times, significant others are included or you’re allowed to bring a guest. Let them know about appropriate dress and topics of conversation to stay away from. Also, make sure your guest follows all the rules. His or her behavior will reflect on you.

When to arrive
Don’t be the first one to arrive, but don’t wait until the party is almost over either. Most of the time, showing up about 15 minutes after the party starts is ideal, unless it’s a sit-down dinner with a designated time to be served. You also don’t want to be the last to leave the party. As soon as you see the event starting to wind down, it is time to make an exit.

Don’t get hammered
This is an important rule — and yet, so many people fail to follow it. You don’t have to drink, but if you do, stay in control. It’s easy to do something outrageous when you have had too much to drink. Set a limit for yourself before going to the party, and stick to it. It is much easier to limit your intake that way.

Don’t look bored
Watch your body language. Appearing bored or like you’d rather be anywhere else is just as bad as not showing up at all. Don’t frown, slouch, cross arms, or yawn. You never know who might be observing you.

Don’t be anti-social
Even if you despise some of your co-workers, or if you’re new and don’t know many people, don’t sit in a corner alone or keep your eyes glued to your phone the whole night. Talk to people you know and don’t know. The party is an opportunity to meet people.

Don’t gossip or bad-mouth your colleagues
When you do speak to colleagues, keep the conversation upbeat and positive. Complaining about the company or your boss will bring the mood down. Also avoid discussing sex, politics, or religion. And perhaps most importantly, don’t gossip about co-workers.

Have a plan
A good way to avoid defaulting to gossip is having a talking plan. If you’re hoping to chat with a new co-worker, think of a few icebreaker questions you can ask. Don’t just talk business. Be up-to-date on current events and happenings in your community.

Make sure to eat
Sometimes employees skip the food and head straight to the bar because they’re excited to drink with their colleagues, or they assume the catered hors d’oeuvres aren’t worth the calories. If you do decide to drink alcohol — even if you limit yourself to one or two glasses of wine — it’s very important that you eat something. At the same time, avoid looking like a glutton. The size of the hors d’oeuvre plates will give you an indication of what you are expected to eat. Don’t overfill it, and never double-dip anything after taking a bite.

Don’t flirt
This is not the time to hit on your boss, or his spouse. Sometimes liquid courage gets the best of us — so stay away from alcohol if you don’t think you can control yourself while under the influence. Even though it’s been a problem forever, sexual harassment is all over the news right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re an intern or the boss, the office party is not the time to confess your feelings to your office crush or act on those feelings with anyone.

Don’t post photos or comments that could get you in trouble
Avoid posting negative comments to social media about how lame the party was, or how much the food sucked. Also, do not post photos of your colleagues taking shots or engaging in other inappropriate behavior.

Don’t make a fool of yourself
Some people forget the office holiday party is a work-related event and completely cut loose. It’s OK to have fun and celebrate the season, but use your head and think about the consequences of your actions.

Acknowledge the person/people who planned the party
Your colleagues put a lot of effort into planning your workplace’s holiday party. They coordinated food, drinks, supplies, and decorations. They sent out invitations and tracked RSVPs. Make sure you say goodbye and thank you to the host or party organizers. If you’re not sure who was involved, or you don’t see them at the party, follow up with an email the next day.

Have fun
The party can be a great place for you to relax and have some fun getting to know your team better. If you stick completely to your all-business work persona, you could be missing out. Enjoy a drink or two, put those work stressors on the back burner and try to just enjoy the party.