Holiday Office Parties: What to Wear and How to Act
Is there a better month at the office than December? Paid vacation days are around the corner and the holiday party is on the books. As everyone counts down to the big event, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and forget that there are a few unwritten rules about holiday party protocol.
You’ve probably heard some infamous holiday party nightmares – the person who arrives in a very un-PC outfit, the person who declares their love for a coworker, the person who somehow ends up stripping to a Katy Perry song. As The Guardian puts it, holiday office parties are “a sack of regrets waiting to happen.”
Yet, there is hope to have a genuinely entertaining time, look good, and not make a giant ass of yourself. Here’s how:
What to Wear to a Company Holiday Party
The key thing about picking your outfit for the holiday party is to follow the dress code. Yeah, you might want to pull out that statement Hawaiian shirt you’ve been saving for months, but if the theme of the party is “ugly holiday sweaters,” it’s not quite a match. And you just know that Angela of the party planning committee will remember your clashing colors for the rest of the quarter.
If there isn’t an obvious dress code, keep your aesthetic smart-casual. Opt for chino pants, a button-down shirt, and clean sneakers. Of course, if you really want to commit to the season, put on a holiday sweater – it doesn’t have to be overly garish either. Try our Redford Sweater which has all the warmth with a thick cable knit to keep things elevated.
Work Party Etiquette
The holiday office party can be a behavioral minefield. Everyone wants to let their hair down and suddenly the conversation isn’t just about reports and client satisfaction… but getting carried away can have real consequences the next day. Follow these simple (and necessary) party etiquette tips and you won’t compromise your eligibility for a promotion, nor be forever known as that guy from the holiday party.
Actually Attend the Party
First things first – actually go to the party. Even if it’s not mandatory, showing up tells your colleagues and company that you’re a team player and that you’re open to participating in the culture. You don’t have to stay for the full event, but have at least one drink and chat with a couple of people; you can always have an exit plan if you really aren’t feeling it. That said, you may be surprised at how fun holiday parties are. Your coworkers and bosses will likely be more relaxed, letting you get to know them on a more personal level.
The golden rule of holiday office parties is not to drink too much. We’ve all been there, where our glasses magically keep refilling and we think that we’re the life of the party, but there’s a fine line between being a social butterfly and a liability in HR’s eyes.
There’s no problem having a few drinks to celebrate the occasion, just be mindful to eat prior to consuming alcohol, and set yourself a maximum limit and stick to it. Not only will you save yourself a hangover, but you also won’t have to avoid eye contact at all costs during the next company-wide meeting.
Don’t Bring a Guest, Unless Welcomed To
While it can be tempting to bring along a partner or friend for moral support, don’t make assumptions about having a plus one unless you’re explicitly told that’s the case. Things will be seriously uncomfortable if you show up with an extra guest and there’s not enough food or drink for them, or if they can’t join in on the activities.
If you do have the green light to bring a guest, think carefully about who you invite. You probably don’t want to bring your best friend from your fraternity if he’s going to challenge people to chugging contests and recount the time you nearly got arrested.
Office party gossip can be dangerous (even though sometimes it’s just so good). Whenever you have a group of people who spend so much time together, there’s going to be some dirty laundry aired. Resist the urge to share or get sucked into conversations about people and their business. Think of it this way – if you get caught up in others’ secrets, there’s a risk that you find yourself on the end of rumors one day too.
Be the Switzerland of holiday office party gossip – stay neutral.
Keep Your Guard Up
Everyone is looking for a good time at the office party, however, you’re still in a professional setting and with people who can make decisions about your career. Don’t be afraid to unwind and discuss things outside of spreadsheets, but do be conservative with how much you share. You don’t need to go into full stealth mode, but be wary of conversation topics that could get you in trouble down the line – for example, salaries, sex, and politics are generally best kept off the table. And if you can sense that Dave from the IT desk is going down one of these routes, maybe it’s time to head to the bathroom or check if there’s any more eggnog.
Show Up Ready to Work the Next Day
Whatever happens at your holiday office party, you gotta show up to work the next day. No matter how hard you’re cringing at yourself or how hard your head is pounding, chug some water, swallow your pride (and maybe a couple of Advils), and head in like normal. You’ll have to face things at some point, so best to do it early on and show your team that you can laugh at yourself and still be a reliable worker. You might even get some brownie points for being such a trooper.
There you have it. The survival guide to a holiday office party. Enjoy, be merry, dress well, and if all else fails, do the opposite of Michael Scott.