How To Make Friends and Influence Others — At the Office Holiday Party

Navigating office etiquette is complicated enough when you are seated in an crowded conference room, or having a private meeting with the boss. But at least it all comes with structure and rules — it’s the office. It’s work. You know how to act, and what to do. And then there’s that annual high-pressure trifecta of work, socializing, and drinking: the office holiday party. It sounds so straightforward. It’s the holidays. It’s a party. It may be full of colleagues, but hey — it beats a sales meeting, right?

Right, but it’s still a veritable etiquette minefield. So, whatever your company has planned for the holidays, here are some pointers to help you navigate your way through to New Year’s.

1) Show Up

Even if your idea of fun is more “<em>A Very She &amp; Him Christmas</em> on the record player at home than the entirety of “<em>NOW That’s What I Call Merry Christmas</em> on the dancefloor, it’s important that you do show up, even if only for an hour.

2) Mingle All the Way

You get there, you’re feeling good, you see some of your closest colleagues in a huddle in the corner sipping eggnog, and you make a beeline for them, right? Resist. The holiday party is the perfect time to find people you don’t know and introduce yourself. Wear your most festive Rudolph sweater, guaranteed to disarm and charm.

3) Skip the Shop Talk

The holiday party should be a night off! Try and ask questions; talking about holiday plans, for example, is a no-brainer. That said, it’s still a work event, so maybe leave the politics, religion, sex, health problems, money worries, and all that good stuff at the door. Some appropriate topics include puppies, kittens, your favorite recent memes, whether Gritty is the greatest mascot of all time, and fun fan theories for the final season of Game of Thrones (but no spoilers, please).

4) Know Thy Limits

There’s a good chance the event will have an open bar. But it’s not the Whole Foods buffet, restrain yourself! Should you grab that fourth mug of mulled wine? Maybe at a party with your pals, but probably not at this one.

5) Don’t Make a Meal of It

The same applies to the food. If it’s light hors d’oeuvres, it’s not meant to be dinner. If it’s more substantial, it’s still important not to eat like it’s your last meal. Take it easy — free food does not mean a free-for-all.

7) Give Your Plus-One the Lowdown

The potential addition of husbands, wives, dates, and friends adds another twist to the etiquette obstacle course. Give your guests a heads up about what (and whom) to expect at the party and maybe offer tidbits during introductions. Your spouse is a competitive LARPer, your date isn’t a doctor but plays one on TV, etc., etc.

Office parties might be fraught, but they can also be really fun. It’s possible to have a good time AND maybe even help your career too. Go forth and be merry!