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Holiday Office Party Do's and Don'ts
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

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The holiday season is here. With a little planning and forethought, employees can attend and enjoy office parties without embarrassing themselves, their employers, or harming their chances for advancement. Here are a dozen office party tips and tricks:

  1. Plan to attend. Officially, attendance may be "optional" but you can be sure that people notice who does and who does not attend.

  2. The only thing worse than not attending an office holiday party is telling people you will attend and then not showing up. Unless you have a spectacular excuse [preferably backed up with x-rays or other irrefutable evidence that you were physically unable to attend] people are unlikely to believe whatever excuse you come up with for missing the party.

  3. Remember that there is no such thing as a "social" business event. Treat the office holiday party as you would any other company related function.

  4. Make a conscious decision to limit your alcohol consumption to at most two or three drinks --- depending on the length of the party.

  5. Do not drink on an empty stomach. Before arriving at the party, make sure you eat something substantial.

  6. Dress tastefully and conservatively. Do not be under-dressed. Do not wear anything too flashy, or worse, too revealing.

  7. Do not be the first person to arrive at the party, and never be the last person to leave.

  8. Circulate and mingle. Office parties are a chance to see and to be seen, so do not huddle the entire time with your friends.

  9. In a sense, the company President [r the senior executive present] is the host of the party. Be sure to speak to them - even if it is only briefly. Compliment them on the arrangements, and/or thank them for arranging the party.

  10. Do not monopolize your manager's time or that of any other senior executive.

  11. If there is a gift exchange, select your gift with care. Buying personal items for a co-worker [such as clothing or perfume] is risky. A good bet is a gift certificate to the local mall, or to a local restaurant.

  12. Do not ignore your co-workers guests or spouses. This means do not talk shop. Ask these guests open-ended questions, and be a good listener.

The biggest risk facing anyone attending an office holiday party in which alcohol is being served is getting intoxicated which can lead to a variety of problems...not o the least of which involve sexual overtures to co-workers.. Do not allow the informality of the occasion, or the camaraderie you may feel for your co-workers, or the fact that the party is a celebration, or the fact that you are nervous to tempt you to drink to excess.
One final thought: As with any other holiday function if you drink, do not drive! If you plan to drink, book a room at the hotel at which the party is being thrown.

Michael C. Dennis a business consultant with more than twenty years of credit management experience. His most recent book is: "Credit and Collection Handbook" available at This article is published annually in the hope that it will help save one or more careers, and possibly even save lives.

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