Tuesday, December 14, 2010

5 Things You Must Know Before the Office Party

I've written about the workplace for a long time, and I know that when the calendar hits December there's going to be a flurry of advice about what you should and shouldn't do at the office holiday party.

Among the do's:
* Dress appropriately
* Network with people you don't know

Among the don'ts:
* Get so drunk you puke in the parking lot
* Dress like Lady Gaga

I think it's a time we got real. Most of us know not to get drunk at office parties, but some of us do it anyway. For those of you who do this, your career is probably headed for the toilet anyway, so I won't waste my breath telling you to lay off the bourbon shots at the party.

What I'm going to focus on in this post are those more subtle things you need to know about holiday parties. Here they are:

* Don't wear a holiday sweater. Anyone who wears one -- man or woman -- ages another 20 years. Wait. Make that 30 years.

* Have Tic-Tacs in your pocket or purse. After munching on cheese and crackers and knocking back a few beers, your breath could peel the paint off the walls. If you want to have a friendly conversation with your peers and business colleagues, you don't want to send them into a coma with one exhale in their direction.

* Eat before the event. There's nothing more off-putting than the person who bellies up to the buffet with the single-minded focus on trying to pile food in a pyramid that rivals something in Egypt. The party should be a chance to mingle and talk to people, so eat beforehand if you're starving. That way, you'll pay more attention to conversing than nabbing more cold cuts.

* Prep your guest. If you're taking a spouse, chances are this person has had to listen to every bitch, moan and complaint about everyone at work. Chances also are good your spouse has forgotten who you said was sleeping with whom, and why you don't want to sit next to Bob (who has never heard of Tic-Tacs -- or mouthwash.) So, the car ride to the party is a good time to go over a few things before arriving so you're on the same page.

*Leave problems at home. If you've had a fight with your teenager before the party, the dog peed on your new carpet or your new girlfriend cancelled coming to the party with you at the last minute, don't share that information at the party. It's a chance to let people see you away from work, to have fun and relax. Don't be thought of a party pooper.

What other suggestions do you have for this year's holiday party?


Scot Herrick said...

The absolute best "how to handle the holiday party" post I've seen on the Internet.

It is about time someone hit the second level of realism instead of all the standards out there.

(Wish it would have been me, but I hate work holiday parties...!)

Anita said...

Many thanks for your kind words. And it just triggered another suggestion:
"Even if you hate work holiday parties, don't say it at the work holiday party."