Office Party Etiquette
Follow our tips to ensure you won’t be Monday’s gossip topic
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: December 6th, 2011
With the holidays fast approaching, your company is probably having some kind of holiday party. For people who have never been to one or will be attending this year as someone’s guest, it might seem like a daunting event, but fear not: the office party is a painless endeavor—at least, it is when you follow these tips.
Do you have to go?
Of course you have to go. While you might think you have better or more fun things to do, ditching your job’s holiday party says, “I’m not a team player.” Your attendance is mandatory if you want to keep working there—unless you have a real emergency or conflict on your hands, you need to attend.
Staying for hours and hours, however, isn’t necessary. To avoid looking like you only came to the party because you were expected to, stay at least an hour. However, pay attention to the invite’s listed times. For example, if the party is scheduled from 5-9 PM, don’t stay after 9 PM to mingle more. Take the conversation elsewhere.
If you’re attending as someone’s guest, it’s important not to look bored while you’re there, even if you may not know many people (if anyone).
Your behavior: who to bring, what to wear, how much to drink, etc.
If the party’s invitation expressly suggests that you should bring someone (i.e., “Your Name plus Guest”), then it’s totally fine to bring someone. However, if a plus-one or guest isn’t mentioned on the invite, it’s best to go it alone.
As far as what you should wear, if the party is right after work, you can get away just fine with wearing what you wear to work everyday. If the party is during off-hours, say, at night or on the weekend, you might want to put a little more creativity into your outfit. Remember, though, that although you’re not technically at work, you’re still at a work function and should dress accordingly. Keep your look professional and classy—ladies, that means not showing too much skin. Guys should look presentable—groom your facial hair (if you have any), iron your shirt, etc.
As far as drinking, tread lightly. Again, this isn’t a casual night out with friends. You’re still with colleagues and most likely your boss(es), so maintain your composure. Stick to two drinks and you should be fine, or if it’s a longer party, follow the lead of someone you trust within the company. As always, if you’re driving, be responsible. Remember that your actions during post-work hours will be remembered, so don’t be the one dancing on the bar with a lampshade on your head. If you don’t drink or don’t want to be questioned about not drinking, stick to something like Coke or tonic/soda water with a lime, and no one will be the wiser.
If you’re a guest, ask your date/host what he or she will be wearing to the party, then tailor your outfit accordingly. In most social settings, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed, but it would be a tad awkward showing up in a floor-length ball gown when your date is wearing khakis and a polo shirt. Respect your host’s job, too—just because you don’t work there, doesn’t mean this is a free pass to get crazy. Be polite to the people you meet, and keep the drinking in check. Remember, we’re judged by the company we keep, so your behavior is important.
Be prepared for small talk, and make an effort to strike up conversation with co-workers you may not know very well. The office party is the easiest way to get to know everyone in your office, without being bothersome by stopping by their cubicle to chat when they may be very busy. Avoid controversial topics like anything relating to religion or politics, and make sure not to gossip about your colleagues.
Overall, remember that although the “office party” does have the word “party” in it, it’s more office than it is party. Keep on your best behavior and act professionally, and you should be just fine.