Holiday party shenanigans are the stuff of legends. Who hasn’t heard tales of lampshade-wearing employee or unfortunate comments (that the person can’t remember making)?  Luckily, making the right impression is easier than you might think.

Sure, it’s a party. But it’s still business.

It goes without saying that you’ll want to avoid drinking too much (never a good idea), dressing inappropriately, or using offensive language. Other winning strategies are a bit more subtle.

RSVP (and try to say yes!)

As soon as you’re invited, check and clear your calendar. Not attending might be viewed by management as a lack of commitment. Unless you have an unavoidable conflict, you need to be there. Either way, aim to accept or send your regrets within a week of receiving the invitation.

Comings and Goings

Arrive promptly, or up to 15 minutes after the start. You don’t have to stay for the entire event; an hour and half should be fine. Shake hands with and thank your host when you arrive and again before leaving.

Dress to Impress

Lean toward attire that’s festive but tasteful. Making an effort shows you appreciate your company’s hospitality and are ready to celebrate.

Mix and Mingle

Speak to people you don’t often see. Keep the conversation pleasant and avoid controversial subjects. Focus on the year’s accomplishments and keep things professional. You never know who’ll be watching.

Shift and Shake

It’s hard to balance both a drink and a plate. Try holding both your glass and food in your left hand, leaving your right hand free to shake. If there’s no place to sit, your best bet might be to stop mingling while you eat. You can work the room more afterwards.

Don’t Guzzle the Booze

Most office party faux pas can be avoided by avoiding or controlling alcohol. Especially for office parties that include an open bar, limit yourself to one or two drinks max. Here’s a suggestion for you:  order a drink you don’t enjoy and nursing it all night. To minimize the effects of alcohol, enjoy a snack at home before you arrive.

Have you witnessed an office party gone wrong? Share your story (without naming names) in the comments below. 

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