Office holiday parties are officially upon us! Working it at your office holiday shouldn't be much different than handling the holidays with friends and family. Well...there is one major difference. Instead of joking about embarrassing moments with your friends the day after, you could be in a serious meeting with HR in the New Year. So yeah.... let's avoid that outcome and instead make your holiday party an opportunity to grow your brand in a positive way. Here's how:
Come prepared! Ask what to wear or bring. This is another case of knowing your company culture. Are contributions of food or drink expected? Is work comping the whole event? Is the event formal or regular business casual? It never hurts to ask, especially if it's your first time. Are gifts expected? Find some resources like our gift-giving guide to help you with etiquette here. Eliminate the element of surprise and know what you are in for by asking.
Thank whoever is paying. Whether it's a team holiday dinner or a party for the whole office, if you are not coming out of pocket, a thank you note needs to be sent. It can be a quick email or you can go the extra mile and write a hand written one. A small intimate celebration with just your team? Then thank your boss. A large celebration for the whole company? Thank your CEO - it is a thoughtful act that will be well received.
Manage your deadlines so you can join in the fun. Office parties are not mandatory and it’s not a good look if you have actual work that needs to be done and you’re seen boozing it up with your coworkers. Get a handle on your deadlines in advance so that you can join the festivities. Don't forget that you need to actually do the work before enjoying the party perks.
Engage fully!! Don’t sit at your desk or do work. If the party is being held in-house the temptation to answer that work email may seem strong but resist it. One, you’re at a party, enjoy yourself and socialize. Two, if you’re caught doing work you may start a chain reaction for other people to do work as well. This is the time to fully engage with your peers. Put that phone down.
Know your limits. It's tempting to drink up, especially when you're not paying the tab, but don't be that person. You're grown and have a paycheck now, so you can drink all you want on your own time and on your own dime. This is still work and people are still watching. Indulging is ok, but you want to be sure you don't lose sight of where you are or make a decision that you'll ultimately regret.
Talk to your leadership. Senior leaders usually attend holiday functions and mingle with everyone. In your day to day role, do you get a lot of exposure to senior leadership or the C-Suite? If you do, here is a chance to connect informally. Never met? Get on their radar. Have a plan of what to say. Know how you contribute to the bottom line and do some research about the leaders you expect will be there, so you can make some personal connections.
Talk to someone you don't know. Networking never stops being a critical tool for ensuring your job security. So go ahead, introduce yourself to someone you don't know. What better what to make a connection then in a fun setting? You can talk about work... if you want... but also feel free to be yourself and make truly personal connection. Being authentic and personal with your coworkers especially during the holiday party will leave a great lasting impression.
Stay out of the gossip. It's cool to be more personal and loose at a party, but it's never cool to let your mouth run wild. This is where knowing your limits also comes in handy. You want to stay in control and avoid negative conversations and energy. And if someone makes a decision you disagree with, show some compassion and get over it. Don't join in the chatter about their behavior.
Be inclusive! Respect the traditions of everyone in your workplace! Remember that the holiday season isn't about Christmas for everyone. Diversity at work is more than just race and gender but also people's beliefs.
Remember to have fun. You've worked hard all year and you deserve to celebrate the work you've contributed to your team. Cheers!