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VOL. 130 | NO. 239 | Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Angela Copeland

Navigating Holiday Parties

By Angela Copeland

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Office holiday parties can often feel like a drag. There’s frequently an expectation that you must attend and bring your spouse. In addition to the stress of taking time out of your personal life for a work event, you must find childcare, pick out the perfect holiday attire and convince your spouse that this evening is important.

When you arrive at the party, there are a number of things to keep in mind. For example, you may want to start drinking right away. It’s an open bar and wine will surely make the uncomfortable evening ahead move faster. Although a little fun at your holiday party is good, it’s important to do it in moderation. The last thing you want is leave a negative impression that follows you through your career.

Keep things professional. This includes your attire, your conversations, and your manners. Although it can be tempting, try to put together an outfit that is festive without being too revealing. Your office party should not substitute for a wild night on the town. Do not wear anything you would be uncomfortable for your grandmother to see you photographed in.

Try to keep gossiping to a minimum. Sharing the latest scoop can certainly be tempting. But do your best to keep the rumor mill at bay. This will leave space for everyone to feel welcome. In fact, if you spot a quiet co-worker, take the time to speak to them. It’s possible they’re nervous in social settings.

Do not start a romantic relationship with a co-worker during the party. Admittedly, I may be a little old-fashioned on this one. But, dating co-workers is dangerous territory. First, it could be viewed as unprofessional by many people, including your direct boss, co-workers and superiors. Even if they don’t tell you, they may be thinking it. And, if your company is comfortable with dating in the workplace, you will still have to see the person each day in the office if things do go awry.

Be courteous to your host. Remember that despite how much of a pain it was to get to your holiday party, your boss is actually trying to do something nice by throwing it. If you say you’ll show up, do. Arrive on time.

Don’t get too ambitious when ordering dinner. If you are able to order off the menu, great. But, try not to select the most expensive food and wine available. At times, your boss will personally foot the bill.

Thank your host. If your boss put in an extra effort to really make the event special, consider writing a thank-you note to them for their hard work.

And, whatever you do, do not drink and drive. Getting a DUI driving home from your company party is a quick way to put yourself at risk for losing your job. Even an expensive cab ride is cheaper than a lost job and the legal fees involved with a DUI. Plan ahead just in case.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com.

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