Holiday Party Etiquette Tips for Young Professionals

‘Tis is the season to be jolly…and attend office holiday parties. A lot of people may sing and be merry over holiday songs, but attending holiday parties isn’t always so simple, especially for young professionals. Bosses and co-workers are still attending the event, but it isn’t a professional setting and sometimes there is even alcohol involved. That brings up a lot of questions about what to talk about and how to act, especially because it could impact your job after the holiday.

I recommend that young professionals follow these etiquette tips to wind up on your coworkers’ nice list after the holiday party:

Be mindful of who you bring to the party.

Find out in advance if guests are invited. I think it’s a good idea to bring a guest if you can. The only caution is to take someone who will leave your coworkers with a positive impression because your guest is a reflection of who you are as a person. However, companies may be on a tight budget or prefer a party amongst staff. If that is the case, honor that request.

Keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum, or don’t drink at all.

An office holiday party is still an extension of the office, so you should act in a professional manner. In college, your friends might have shrugged it off it you got intoxicated one night. Instead, your coworkers will remember your actions long after the holiday party. Note that your guest should also follow the same consumption rules.

Don’t talk shop.

This is a holiday party, not a casual boardroom meeting. Leave the office at the office for the night, and keep the conversation more light-hearted. Especially if you have spouses and partners in the conversation, they won’t know what is going on, and may feel quite excluded.

Refrain from gossip or off-color jokes.

People tend to be a little more relaxed at office parties, and if they have a few drinks they may say things they normally would not. However, alcohol or not, once you say something you can’t take it back.

Get to know your boss and your boss’s boss.

Office holiday parties are a great networking opportunity, especially to meet senior executives you may normally not have a chance to interact with. Senior executives at the office are usually extremely busy, but in a social environment, they’re more open to small talk. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Dress professionally.

Wear something a bit more festive than you might wear to work, but know this is still an extension of the office. Therefore, this is not the time to wear something provocative, like a high slit or low back. Just as during the normal work day, maintaining a conservative feeling to your attire is key.

Jorie Scholnik is an etiquette associate at The Protocol School of Palm Beach under the direction of Jacqueline Whitmore. She also is an assistant professor at Santa Fe College where she teaches career classes and leads an etiquette club. You can follow her on twitter @JorieScholnik.

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