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Corporate Christmas party etiquette

Is it time for your office Christmas party? Navigating your way through a work party can be tricky, so here are some dos and don’ts to help further your career and ensure you’re not the subject of the water cooler gossip come Monday morning.

office christmas party

Don’t consider not attending

The office party might not be a mandatory function, but attendance is generally expected. Your employer has planned it as a team celebration, and management won’t look at your blowing it off without a good reason very favourably. Add it to your schedule early so you can plan all your other events around it, and remember that a Christmas party is a great opportunity to network with your colleagues and senior management, so why would you want to miss out on that?

Do arrive on time

Depending on the type of event, there might be some flexibility in this area, so read your invitation to know what is expected. For instance, it might be acceptable to arrive 30–45 minutes late for a large, casual party in a bar or pub, but when attending an intimate gathering or structured event, being on time will show your boss you are responsible and efficient, not uncaring and disorganized.

Don’t overindulgebeer

Sure, it’s the office Christmas party, but the key word is “office,” not “party”! Your manager will be watching, so keep your composure by limiting your alcoholic drinks to one or two. You can always substitute bubbly water with a twist to do a toast or when someone is buying a round.

Do dress appropriately

Miniskirts, revealing tank tops, backless shirts, excessive sparkle or sequins, a multitude of bracelets, heavy perfume and thick makeup are not only things we see in a nightclub; they are also some of the things we shouldn’t see at a corporate party. Avoid baring a lot of skin or overdoing the festive dressing, so you can maintain the professional image you’ve created.

Don’t be a flirt

Even if you’ve had your eye on that cute guy in sales for a while now, the corporate party is not the place to make your move. Others will be watching — and judging — so save the flirting for another time. On a related note, don’t leave with someone you didn’t come with, or you might end up on the bad end of the rumour mill.

Do chat with the boss

Mix and mingle with everyone, not just your closest work friends. Now is the time to help further your career by introducing yourself or chatting with the boss, senior managers and colleagues from other departments.

Don’t over-share, gossip or complain

Believe it or not, not everyone wants to hear all the stories of potty-training your toddler, all the details of your close co-worker’s recent hookup or all your complaints about middle management! The holiday party should be about fun, not awkward conversation, so remember to keep it light and easy for everyone.

Do respect the privacy of your co-workers

Social media makes it possible to share moments of every aspect of your life with the rest of the world, but keep in mind that not everyone wants to share every moment of theirs. Be respectful, and don’t publish photos or comments without your co-workers’ approval.

More on party etiquette

Manners to always mind as a guest
Is there such a thing as “fashionably late?”
10 Dos and don’t of being a guest

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