Attending holiday events such as the office holiday party is a great way to get involved and contribute to creating an inclusive environment. Although it’s an opportunity for everyone to let loose and connect on other levels besides work, keep in mind that the event is still a part of your professional career.
show up. While spending time outside of work with colleagues may or may not be your cup of tea, keep in mind that it is important to attend to major events such as the yearly holiday party. For one, it shows respect to your employer, especially if they are footing the bill for the event. The atmosphere they are trying to create for their staff can only be achieved if employees are present.
limit your indulgences. The office holiday party is a great way to relax after a possibly stressful year. Each company has its own unique relationships and ways of letting loose, but it’s important to keep in mind that however wild the event becomes, you are still expected to act professionally. By all means, drink wine, dance, eat and enjoy yourself—just make sure that you are always in control and not acting in a way that would make you want to hide your face in the office the next day.
dress the part. Although most parties are held after work hours, keep in mind that it is still an “office” party. This means that although you may not be expected to dress as conservatively as you would at work, you are still expected to look professional both inside and outside of the office. Clubwear would not be an appropriate choice. If you’re feeling stuck, rely on the invitation to help gauge what the dress code is. Pay attention to where the event is being held; the type of venue and its dress codes can help you select an appropriate outfit.
mix and mingle. Take the time to socialize with colleagues you may not know very well. Your employer has organized this event to increase staff engagement and create an inclusive environment. It would be polite to take the time and mingle with everyone. In our business etiquette courses, we discuss the importance of mingling in a U shape versus an O shape to allow an opening for others to move in and out and avoid feeling left out of the “circle”.
be thankful. Make sure that you take the time to thank your employer for the event. This can be made even more personal by picking something specific that you appreciated. By being specific, it shows that you noticed the details and are not just thanking them generically. An example could be: “Thank you for putting on such a great event—I especially loved the dessert selections.”