The Holiday Office Party Survive-&-Thrive Guide

It’s that time of the year. Ugly sweaters get their 15 minutes of fame. Malls echo with endless loops of holiday muzak. Folks are planning what food to prepare/bring/cater. And planners are getting headcounts for their annual holiday parties. Here are some survival and safety tips.

The upcoming (Dec. 9) movie Office Christmas Party highlights how management would probably not want your company party to turn out this year. (Typically, trashing one’s office is frowned upon.) I’d suggest letting management know that you would like to have an office party before throwing one before attempting to throw it without them.

There’s more to the holiday party than drinks, holiday songs, and gift giving. Too often, it’s a missed opportunity for team building. A poll by CareerBuilder suggested that only 2 in 5 employees attend holiday parties. That’s unfortunate, since it’s a perfect time to get to know people you typically don’t interact with.

The annual party is also another time to brush up on your professional communication skills. It’s a more relaxed environment than your average work day, so communicating can be easier.  Communicating with your boss (or your boss’s boss) could be a great chance to network and build relationships in a more relaxed work environment.

If you’re someone who despises holiday parties, here are a few tips to get you through, and actually, help you enjoy the office holiday shindig:

  1. Take some time to reach out to coworkers you don’t normally get to talk to or see.  This is a great way to broaden your horizons and make yourself feel like part of the company family.
  2. Try to talk about something other than work.  Topics outside of work will lighten the atmosphere and draw in more people for discussion. Great topics for discussion can be a sporting event, a new movie, a restaurant, or anything of personal but casual interest. (Politics and religion are probably not as great.) In general, it’s a good way to sharpen your professional communications skills.
  3. Eat something before you go. Don’t “Pregame,” though. We’ve all seen the Snickers commercials about how you can’t be yourself if you are hangry. Even though food and drink will be served at your holiday party, fuel up before you get there—so you aren’t sloppily chowing down, or acting hangry. What you don’t need to do, is “pregame” with alcohol. Calm your jitters with a glass of water or a few deep breaths.
  4. If it is a plus-one event, bring your significant other or a friend to hang out with.  This will guarantee you won’t be by yourself. Don’t lean on this person for networking or hang out help though. Make sure you are engaging in new conversations together and/or separately.
  5. Steer Clear of Shenanigans. The person acting foolishly or sloppily at an office holiday party is not a good look. (The person who records the act via social media video is no saint either.) Just don’t participate in shenanigans. Period.

It’s a great idea to attend company events—to gain some visibility, make (or renew) connections, and feel like part of the team. Take part in your company get-together, and spend some quality time with the people you work with this holiday season. It’s a time to bring people together and take part in holiday cheer.

Enjoy the festivities—and have a safe holiday!


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