Unless you work at a company dedicated to the crushing of dreams and suppression of fun, you probably have an office holiday party coming up this month. You've already got your outfit picked out, and you're practicing your hair DIYs nightly. But, what about your behavior? This is no warehouse kegger, and there's more at stake than your potential appearance on the street-style blogs.
These things can end in one of two ways: new friendships or horrific scenes of sloppiness followed by a stern meeting with your HR rep. If the former sounds more like your bag, well, read on for what NOT to do. This is your go-to guide if you like your stellar reputation the way it is: intact.
Don't be cliquey.
This isn't high school. Well, maybe it sort of is. Cool kids, nerds, loners, freaks, and geeks all still exist in an office environment — but, we like to think they can all get along just fine. Plus, what good is some out-of-office bonding if you're not going to hang around with people outside of your usual crowd?
Don't drink to kill time.
Obvious? Yes. Still worth saying? Unfortunately, also yes. There is always that one person knocking back tequila shots and making everyone else feel uncomfortable. But, the truth is, they're probably the most uncomfortable of all. It's easy to get carried away with the sauce when you're not feeling totally at home, and while a few is just fine to loosen up, try to keep a note of how much others are having. Every party is different, and in some scenarios, getting sloshed is just company policy. Just be sure to be aware of where you stand in comparison to everyone else, and you'll be fine.
Like drinking, talking smack about your coworkers and complaining about the office environment are very easy ways to break the ice and pass the time with someone you don't know well. It's natural — you're both clinging onto the one common subject you have. We've all done it, and it can be a very strong impulse, especially if you really do have something to gripe about. Think about it this way, though: If you turn off your loudmouth and actually do some smart talking, you might just get to know someone new and form a friendship that goes deeper than just mutual loathing of your boss.
Don't talk shop.
Of course, it's inevitable that you'll talk about work a little bit. But, can we please put the laser pointer away and focus on socializing, here? Your mom probably mentioned this when she was trying to get you to take up golf in middle school, but socializing is actually an extremely important part of getting ahead in the office, and even a few minutes of completely informal chitchat can go a long way toward making your 9-to-5 life a lot more fun. Consider it an investment.
Don't brag about your fancy holiday.
Going to Paris with your darling children, who also speak French, to stay in your little pied-à-terre on the Left Bank? Good for you. No, really. Good for you. But, don't assume that everyone else has the resources or the time to do anything more than host a small gathering at their own homes. It's okay to bring up your holiday plans, just try to be sensitive and thoroughly non-patronizing in the event that you're the most lavishly traveled of the group.
Don't talk about your bonus.
For the love of God and all that is holy, do not talk about your bonus.
Don't ditch the dress code.
Ah, party outfits. We've got about a million articles on that subject (and more to come). Especially if you work in a more conservative environment, office get-togethers are a wonderful time to show off your amazing personal style. But, especially if you're new or if the venue is being changed from last year, make sure to ask around to get a handle on the level of formality expected for the event. This goes without saying, but we're huge advocates of the theory that feeling confident and comfortable with your appearance can really put a shine on your personality and make you the brightest star in the room.
Don't be a constant complainer.
You might be unhappy in your job — and for that, we are truly sorry. However, be careful with whom you share that knowledge, especially after a few drinks. You don't want to assume someone shares your opinion about the company and end up offending them or risking your 'tude making its way back to the higher-ups. Also, hello, buzzkill?
Don't bring presents.
Unless there's a common understanding or some kind of planned Secret Santa exchange, keep your gifting away from the party. You'll make others feel bad if they aren't on your list, or if they haven't gotten you anything, and the recipients will be stuck carrying around the gift all night.
Don't forget about your date.
Plus-ones often end up in a weird, lonely huddle in the corner. That, or you're clinging to each other all night like Jack and Rose to a floating door. Not only is this sure to start a fight later, it's a great way to ruin the party for one or both of you. Make sure you keep introducing your friend to everyone, and especially if they're shy, try to find ways to bring them into the conversation. If you're less comfortable with your colleagues, don't use your date as a crutch — and consider the fact that your desk mates are probably eager to meet this person you're always going on about!
Reprinted with permission from Refinery29. Want more?