Holiday Office Parties Are Back: 8 Ways to Play it Safe
Some do's and don'ts to avoid embarrassing yourself
In the December following the financial crisis of 2008, many companies decided to forgo their holiday office parties altogether. But four long years later, things are looking up, with a recent report from executive search firm Battalia Winston finding that of 105 companies surveyed, 91 percent planned to throw a party this year -- a significant jump from last year when, at 74 percent, the share of companies hosting celebrations hit a 25-year low.
But before workers use this good news as grounds to get looser than usual, they should consider what else has changed in the last four years. Social media and mobile apps -- ones that can document your every move and misspeak -- have become increasingly available and omnipresent, giving partygoers pause as to whether they can (or should) enjoy the night with abandon. Here are 8 tips on how to keep holiday cheer in check.
"It may be frowned upon to not," says business consultant Teri Aulph. And don't be late. "Arriving late to the party—even after meal service begins—reflects badly on you. It demonstrates a rather nonchalant and uncaring attitude to make appointments on time, and also communicates that you can keep your boss waiting," says professional party planner Gregory Jenkins.
DON'T: Talk too much
"Even if your boss engages in risqué dialogue, avoid conversations that are political, religious, or that get into office gossip," says Jenkins. "Don't complain about your significant other, the long hours at work, or try to sell your boss on getting a raise or promotion." Aulph adds, "No matter who you are talking to at the party, keep conversation light."
DON'T: Drink (to get drunk)
"Work is work even though it's camouflaged in soft lighting, a bar and a buffet," says radio host Jaybeau Jones, author of "Heroes, Mentors and Friends." "Do we drink on the job? No. So skip it, or have one glass of water for every drink. I'd sip it slow and keep it to one. It's a Facebook world. Once the mistake is out there, it's forever."
DO: Dress appropriately
"Err on the side of conservative; you can be festive without exposing too much," says Aulph. "The short, short skirt is likely to garner a lot of attention, but the wrong type," adds Jenkins.
DON'T: Become a spectacle
"If there is dancing or karaoke at the party, don't get wild and crazy on the floor or try to become the next 'American Idol,'" says Jenkins. "It's a sure way to get you on the boss' radar in a bad way. And some colleagues or their guests are likely to turn your spectacle into a YouTube video."
DON'T: Tweet, text, upload, update, post, pic, etc.
"A holiday party gathering is the perfect opportunity to get some face time with prospective clients and higher-ups," says Aulph. "Be present."
DON'T: Give gifts (inappropriately)
"It's inappropriate to give your boss an individual gift," says Aulph. "It's almost impossible to do so without looking like you are sucking up. The only time gifting a higher-up would be acceptable is when the team chips in to give a collective one."
DO: Show appreciation
"Volunteer to assist with next year's holiday party," says Jenkins. "That demonstrates initiative and a proactive approach. And be sure to thank your boss. No company is obligated to provide employees with a party -- especially as the economy continues to rebound."