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5 Tips to Navigate Holiday-Party Season at Work

For some, the office holiday party is a great opportunity to unwind from stressors, such as fourth quarter financial reports or performance evaluations. It provides employees the chance to socialize with their peers and create new connections in a low-stakes environment. For others, the holiday party can be an uncomfortable get-together filled with office politics and employee competition for the boss’ time. The presence of alcohol can make everything more interesting, to say the least. Whatever the case, you want to wake up the next day free from fear of embarrassment, or worse, getting fired. It is important to take responsibility for yourself during the holiday party. To ease this stress, read below for tips on how to keep the office holiday party festive for everyone.


  • The two drink maximum. We have all witnessed that one employee who has a little too much “fun” at the holiday party. Not only is this embarrassing, but it can also damage their personal and professional reputation. There are a myriad ways to contribute to the holiday spirit, without overindulging. Maintaining a level of composure is crucial, especially when a conversation with your superiors could be five minutes away. Focus on having fun that keeps you out of the Monday morning gossip pool.
  • It’s the Season of Giving! Your boss is going out of his or her way to organize a fun get-together for you and your co-workers. Bringing a bottle of wine or another small gift is a welcome gesture that lets your boss know you appreciate their efforts. This is even more important if your boss is welcoming you into their home for the party. Not only will they be appreciative, but it can serve as a unique conversation starter as well.
  • Networking. Many people are more relaxed at the holiday office party; everyone is unwinding from their week, and spirits are bright! This is a great opportunity to forge connections with people from other departments, or those with whom you haven’t had a chance to connect. Sharon Schweitzer, the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, advises: “Avoid clinging to your cubby buddy. Instead, meet customers and new faces from other departments. Introduce or re-introduce yourself by asking questions about colleagues’ holiday traditions or stories. If you work for a large organization and don’t often see the CEO, introduce yourself, state the department you work in and shake their hand. Keep your beverage in your left hand so your right is dry and free to shake” (ABC News). Monopolizing the conversation with solely work chatter might be inappropriate. Strike the right balance:  it’s year’s end; don’t be afraid to highlight your achievements in a casual manner that demonstrates your ambition, skills, and ability to be reflective.
  • Don’t get distracted by your phone. Whether at your boss’ house, a rented venue, or your office’s break room, the holiday party is your organization’s contribution to providing fun and socialization. Having your nose in your phone can come off as disrespectful. This is a chance to get to know your colleagues on a different level, and sending texts or reading emails prohibits you from focusing on them. Turning your phone off for the duration of the party is a good way to keep yourself present in the conversation. 
  • Avoid Work Talk. The holiday party is an opportunity to socialize with those you spend every day with in a non-work environment. The last thing your co-workers want to do is mull over the latest financial report at what is supposed to be a non-stressful event. This is the chance to learn more about your colleagues and their lives. Save the work talk for Monday, and enjoy the delicious food, drink, and conversations the evening has to offer!


Whether you love or dread the office holiday party, these steps will help you represent yourself in the best way possible. While they are all important, the key thing to remember is to have fun. This is an opportunity to let go of the stressors of the office, so enjoy the night while it lasts!

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