We’re already in the midst of this year’s holiday season, but the merriest is yet to come. There are at least three or four big office parties to attend until the end of December, each unskippable and each an opportunity for you to shine. Though brilliant for revealing your spontaneous self, office events can be somewhat confusing – in between appearing casual and remaining professional, one can easily get lost. Here’s how loose is too loose, at least when it comes to celebrating with your boss.
1. Always Attend
However unenthusiastic about spending a Friday evening with those you’re compelled to see every day, attending an office party is actually quite mandatory. No, your job doesn’t depend on it, and yes, there are other ways to prove your devotion, but keeping appearances is still pretty much important.
By showing up, you’re letting your colleagues know that their time is just as valuable as yours; by showing up on time, you’re respecting their professionalism and appealing to their informal, amicable side at the same time.
2. Dress to Impress
Here’s a tricky one! Particularly to ladies, getting dressed for such semi-formal occasion is nowhere near easy. Just to be on the safe side, avoid your usual weekend attire and stick to festive blazers and party pants. And, since holiday spirit are hovering in the air, feel free to choose subtle sequins, lace and leather. When paired with high heels, office wear looks both professional and sexy.3
3. Bring a Sidekick
Always double check the plus one rule. If allowed to bring a guest, invite someone who doesn’t make you nervous but, in terms of conversing, dancing and having fun, brings the absolute best in you. However easy-going you usually are, social anxiety can still creep up to you in these sorts of events, so be sure to have an appropriate companion by your side.
There’s a couple of definite office party don’ts that you should embrace without any forethoughts or objections; they are, after all, for the sake of your own reputation, both within the company and beyond. A bad name has a habit of following people around for longer than they’d like, so don’t drink if you can’t hold your liquor, don’t flirt if you cannot manage an office romance or you’re not allowed to have one and never, ever gossip around.
5. Go Beyond the Cubicle
Office parties make a perfect opportunity for meeting new, like-minded people that you can collaborate with during your career. Instead of staying close to your watercooler gang, try getting out of your comfort zone and widening your network. Who knows – by the end of the night, one of your co-workers might become a business associate, a worthy ally, or a friend to last you a lifetime.
6. Prepare Notes
Don’t come unprepared – a couple of big shots will surely make an appearance of their own, so be sure to recognize them as they enter the office. Check your company’s LinkedIn page beforehand, determine who’s who in the organizational hierarchy, learn their names and pay attention to their professional and intimate passions. Stuttering in front of your CEO will embarrass you deeply, and so will confusing him for your accountant’s plus one.
7. Keep the Conversation Flowing
Learning their interests might give you a couple of worthy icebreakers. Social mingling and engrossing conversational topics are the very heart of office events, which is why you’ll need all the help you can get for finding the best opening line possible. And, whatever you do, steer clear from work-related talks! Instead of reminding them of deadlines, seize an opportunity to familiarize with your colleagues on a more personal level.
8. Join the Fun
And now for the things you can do! Tireless chitchats are not everything a fun office event has to offer, and in case you’re lucky enough to work in an environment that values imaginative team building, by any means, do participate in party activities.
Whether a quiz, dance-off, or karaoke, try your best to shush your stage fright and show that you’re comfortable with your imperfections. Laughing about your own lack of talent is never a sign of weakness, but an opportunity to unearth the lovable, confident and witty person that you are.
9. Watch What You Post
If insecure about the social media rule, be sure to discuss it with the party committee. Unless they are socially inacceptable, publishing status updates and pics during the event is usually perfectly fine. And, when it comes to group photos, it might be a good idea to share them with your colleagues privately and ask for approval before you make them public.
10. Stick To the End
Even if you did come on time and participated in the whole shebang, try not to leave the party until the end. In case you have something scheduled for after the event, talk to the organizers about it – if there’s a celebratory speech or a toast coming up, do your best not to skip it. The reasons behind the attendance rule apply here as well, so unless you have a really good excuse, always go along with it.
What office parties really come down to is the art of balancing the causal with the formal – dress to impress, show your respect, have fun and, if conversations are not your strong suit, have a couple of notes to lean onto. And, whatever you do, never overdo it!