The jolly season of winter is upon us and that means that everyone gets to cut loose and indulge themselves with brownies, cream puffs, cocktails, and gifts, including the tiresome office workers who are probably reading this right now.

One thing to bear in mind, however, is that this is a business event first and foremost.

Don’t take this the wrong way, while you may enjoy yourselves, it is more of a formal get-together with your colleagues and supervisors.

In short, have a good time while keeping it professional as well.

Besides, by learning about business holiday etiquette, you can navigate the upcoming season like a pro.

This way, your company may even take advantage of the winter sales competition.


1. Do: Respond to the Invitation

Be sure to respond to the party invitation within 24-48 hours. It shouldn’t matter whether it comes by email, Evite, Paperless Post, telephone or traditional ways, you have to give your response within the given that timeline.

Even if you didn’t want to attend the party for whatever reason, it is mandatory to the point in which failing to do so would send a negative message to the executives and upper management, who very likely will take note of your absence.

2. Don’t: Drink Too Much

If your employer is offering you a drink and you don’t mind, then go right ahead.

Though since the drink is intoxicating, which evidently drops your inhibitions and twists your judgment, you should limit your intake of it.

If there’s one place you cannot afford to lose your senses, it is at an event that’s hosted and attended by your boss as well as your co-workers.

Under the influence, you may end up doing something that could make you a target of workplace gossip or controversy, or worse, unemployed.

You should consider your limits with better precaution and never go beyond them. Be sure to carry a refreshment in your left hand and leave your right one for the shaking hands of the party guests.

Although, if you want our honest advice, it’s probably for the best if you don’t drink at all considering the innumerable catastrophes that often result from this drink.

Safer alternatives for you would be tea, club soda or even water.

3. Do: Arrive And Leave On Time

Just as you’re punctual when you usually arrive for work, you should be just as punctual for when you get to an office holiday party and leave at the very moment it is scheduled to conclude. It is inappropriate to arrive ‘fashionably late.’

You also shouldn’t arrive early, but just plan on getting there within the first 15-20 minutes.

Even if you don’t plan on attending, don’t arrive 30 minutes right before the end of the party only to make an appearance.

4. Don’t: Treat an Office Party Like a Singles Bar

A workplace party gives you the chance to interact with your fellow co-workers in a manner other than the way you normally do in your usual office days.

Getting to know them in a different life may even make you look at them differently. Though this may end up being a bad thing.

For instance, you may find Jessie from accounting to be far more attractive under bar lights than cubicle lights.

It is human nature to have desires for the opposite sex, which is exactly why you should keep your instincts under control before your reputation sinks to the endless bottom of no-return.

Workplace romances or God forbid, one-night-stands, are bringers of disaster.

5. Do: Read the Invitation Carefully

A great way to avoid an unpleasant evening is to read the office party invitation carefully. It is essential to know the company’s policy on guests, or whether the invitation is ‘Employee Only’ or ‘Plus One.’

You should also check whether spouses or dates are welcome.

Much of the planning decisions have been meticulously considered, including scheduling and expenses.

Just remember that this is an official company-sponsored event.

6. Do: Dress Appropriately

Robin Schooling, vice president of human resources for Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge, says that if your office is having a formal event dress up.

If it’s a casual potluck that’s being hosted in the break room, then dress as you do for work.

Even if the theme is ugly sweaters, then Schooling recommends wearing the ugliest work-appropriate sweater that you can find and wear it with pride.

When attending an office party, it is pivotal to look at what your office is doing and follow up with it.

Don’t be the sore loser who wears an ascot or a cocktail dress to the lunch hour Secret Santa gift swap.

So leave anything that is too-short, too-tight and too-revealing in the closet.

7. Don’t: Flirt

It’s like Step #4 but it doesn’t go that far.

Even so, it’s best not to flirt with co-workers of the opposite gender, even if you intended it to be entirely innocent.

The reason for this is because it might send a negative message to your co-workers.

At best, flirting or acting in a sexually provocative manner could make colleagues lose respect for you on a personal level.

But at worst, it could slap you with a possible sexual harassment allegation.

8. Do: Greet Colleagues, Hosts, and Party Planners

When you arrive at the office holiday party, be a professional and shake hands with the party planners and hosts.

In fact, if it is a company or partnership that is owned by more than one person, be sure to thank all of them.

You don’t have to be a chatterbox or pretend to completely enjoy everything about the party, but at the very least, try to chat briefly or compliment any aspect of the party that you really enjoyed, such as music, food or the decor.

And be sure to limit your conversations to only five minutes before moving on to the next person.

9. Do: Remember That This is Still a Business Event

While it is okay to relax and have fun when you’re at a workplace party, you must never forget that this is still an office event sponsored by your boss.

The setting may be different to the casual parties back at home, but your boss is watching your move, as are your coworkers.

What we’re trying to say is that you should never expose any side of your personality that may come off as unsettling to your boss and coworkers to the extent where their opinion of you may change for the worse.

A perfect example of this is not sharing any personal information or details in a professional setting.

10. Do: Mingle

Be very careful of your movements as they are being monitored from the entrance to every room you enter by your boss and coworkers.

That means that you must refrain yourself from heading towards the bar or the buffet the moment you step foot into the party.

As an employee of the event sponsored by your company, you have to give a good impression to the party planners, hosts and guests that are there, by greeting and shaking hands with them.

To this with everyone that is there, including your colleagues and boss.

Since executives enjoy being at parties, a company party may be one of the few times where you get to meet them in person.

So go over to them, introduce yourself, state the department that you work in and then shake their hands.

This is also a great opportunity for you to become visible to your company’s leadership.

Greet and interact with as many of your colleagues and supervisors who are present at the event, even the ones you don’t know very well.

Be sure to greet the attendants with the warm smile on your face. But don’t just spend the entire evening with your usual office buddies – try to mingle with co-workers that belong to other departments of your company.

But more importantly, please resist the urge of getting bored or giving hints to your boss and coworkers that you’re making a run for the exit door.

11. Do: Talk About Something Other Than Work

There are other sides to your co-workers than just office partners and work.

They also have families, hobbies and other interests that may be in line with your own.

Yes, this is an office-sponsored event, but it is still a party. So don’t be afraid to let your colleagues know a bit about your life outside of the organization and avoid bringing stuff that has anything to do with your regular office responsibilities.

Also, abstain from having to include sex, politics or religion as part of your conversations.

Connecting with your colleagues on a personal level can take you very far in the business. Plus, the management appreciates it when their employees show their social side.

Keep your discussions positive and ensure that they do not exceed more than 5 to 10 minutes. Avoid complaining, bragging or gossipping as well.

12. Don’t: Tell Off-Color Jokes

You’re free to tell jokes if you want because office parties are usually light-hearted anyways.

Just that all may stop if your jokes end up offending your colleagues or boss (or worse, their own boss).

It is a well-known fact that not many people enjoy off-color humor, so do your best to avoid coming under such fire.

And with that in mind, you should also refrain from using foul, offensive or perverted language.

13. Don’t: Binge at the Buffet

Professional workplace demands you maintain manners and etiquettes as we’ve been reiterating for the entire article.

So if you’re a food person, we’d advise you to eat a small amount of protein to sate your appetite instead of hogging the food table as much as you want.

You didn’t get invited to the party for the sole occasion that you’re hungry.

Be considerate of other party attendees as well, while also keeping your hands clean at all times when it comes to food.

Do not walk around with a full plate, overeating or double dipping the chafing dish and please remember to properly discard napkins, toothpicks, and plates.

14. Put Your Phone Away

Your boss went through a lot of trouble to put this party together so you can mingle with your co-workers and get to know them better.

But this can’t be accomplished if you constantly check your phone.

Just bear the urge to inspect your social media status and focus on the matter that is right there in front of you: socializing with your colleagues and boss.

If you want to check on your phone occasionally, then do so where no one can see you, but only for a little while since your boss is still monitoring the event.

If you wish to make your phone of good use, then start taking pictures and share them on social media.

15. Don’t: Gossip About People Behind Their Backs

Whether you’re at work or a work-related event, it is absolutely distasteful to backbite or gossip about your coworkers or supervisors.

Some people take it upon themselves to engage in a little malicious talk about those who are never present at the scene.

A loose tongue is quite common at parties, especially if you’ve had one drink too many. If left unchecked, you’ll be in for a regretful Monday morning equation.

For the sake of the company’s reputation and that too your own job, you must prevent yourself from committing this heinous act.

Also, you may even want to consider the feelings of the person you’re gossiping about, especially if gets back to them later on.

16. Don’t Clap for Yourself

This term is often used to describe drinking right after a person in your company who has been recognized for their outstanding achievements has offered a toast.

Office parties often hold parties to laud someone’s great work in the organization and if this is the reason your employer’s hosting this party, then the CEO or executive may offer a toast sometime during the evening.

So when a toast is being raised for your colleague, be sure to raise your glass at the end of the toast, when the host raises their glass.

Be sure not to touch your glass to everyone else’s as it is distracting and unnecessary.

Then pause and observe as this is when the star worker offers a toast in response to their achievement.

And if you’ve been a star performer as well, you may be honored with a toast as well. So be sure to stand up and thank the person who toasted you, as a symbol of your appreciation.

17. Do: Offer Your Thanks

After offering you a drink, some food, music and a chance to really let loose after doing most of your hours for the year, we believe that it is only fair and courteous to express your gratitude to the party planners, organizers as well as your boss for putting together a great office party.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be elaborate; just a quick ‘thank you’ before you leave is more than enough.

18. Don’t: Bring Uninvited Guests

When your boss throws a party, they may intend it to be only for employees.

Therefore, you must always consult with them and ask whether it is permissible to bring a significant other or not.

Bringing an uninvited guest may not only end up frustrating your boss but also embarrass or upset your guest if they feel unwanted.

So always do a preemptive check to see if you can bring spouses, dates or Plus Ones from your side.

19. Don’t: Undermine the Importance of Your Guest’s Behavior

If your office party does allow you to invite a guest from your side, then you have to choose wisely who you should bring.

If let’s say, the guest is your significant other, bring them with you and don’t be shy about making introductions.

But don’t bring in some “best friend,” who happens to be a woman that you’ve only interacted with on platonic occasions, just because you can’t handle going alone.

It would only defeat the purpose of the party, which is to get to know your colleagues better.

You must also never bring anyone who might display inappropriate behavior – even if they may be your significant other. Their bad behavior will, in the end, reflect poorly on you.

That’s why it is important to have your guest adhere to the same rules that you are expected to follow for the party.

20. Do: Show Up The Next Day

Even if you’ve overindulged yourself or stayed late afterward, nothing is worse than calling in “sick” the day after the office party.

Still, if you’ve managed to make it to this point after all of the tips mentioned above, you shouldn’t have that much of a problem.

But even if you do, there literally is no other way out for you except to suck it up and show up for work.

When an office party is celebrated in a respectful and appropriate manner, it creates a sense of mutual trust among your co-workers, shows employee appreciation, develops stronger office relationships and is great for overall employee morale.

Comments are closed.