Office Holiday Party Etiquette: 8 Tips for Putting Your Best Foot Forward

By  | 

It’s that time of year again…

Time for eggnog lattes, holiday music, visiting family members and (dun, dun, dun) your office holiday party. I may be a fashionista, but I’m also a Human Resources (HR) professional and when it comes to office holiday parties, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ratchet shameful. In a 2010 survey, 40% of people either saw or HH-3-D-227x300experienced a major indiscretion during a work-sponsored holiday event while 14% of them actually knew someone who got fired as a result of inappropriate behavior during a company holiday party. Don’t let that be you!

My new Ebook, Haute Holidays is a how-to guide for attending your office holiday party and still having a job to come back to afterward. Here are 8 tips for putting your best foot forward:

1. Be merry in moderation: Even if your company is generous enough to offer an open bar, don’t overindulge. Resist the urge to drink like a fish and simply sip a glass or two. If you cannot hold your liquor, please DO NOT have more than one drink. Try having a mixed drink on your first trip then omit the alcohol for each refill. You don’t want to be the person who lost it to alcohol and end up the hot topic at the water cooler the next morning.

2. Keep your dance moves rated PG: When the DJ is jamming, you may just feel the urge to bend over and shake it like a salt shaker. Don’t. You can be sure that someone is playing paparazzi, so keep it simple and decent. It is an office environment after all

3. Have fun: Make the best of your time there. Seek out fellow employees and engage them in light-hearted conversation and if you have a shy personality, a GREAT way to break the ice is to compliment the person’s outfit. You could also ask questions about plans for the holidays, hobbies etc. If you work for a large company, make it a point to seek out coworkers from departments other than your own.  

4. Have a networking plan in place: Office-organized or sponsored social events are excellent opportunities to network. Thoughtful networking might just give you an advantage over other people who may be there just for the free drinks. If possible, find out which, if any, career boosting executives will be there. Do some research and make a plan to initiate engaging yet brief chats with them. Seek them out and chat with them, try (but not too hard) to make a good first impression.

5. Don’t get handsy: The combination of alcohol and a festive environment make it all too easy to get flirty during events like these. But take heed, holiday party season breeds sexual harassment charges like rabbits and that’s one bunny you do not want. Do you really want to be branded the holiday hoochie simply because you lost control? Ah… didn’t think so.

6. Avoid office gossip: I know this is a big temptation during office party occasions but you have got to resist it. This is a no-go area in general and definitely for the office party. Trust me, the boss’s wife will not thank you for letting her in on her husband’s ‘secret moves’ after work hours and if you think such idle and potentially destructive talk will not come back to haunt you, you’re wrong.

7. Avoid expensive gifts: There’s little harm in giving gifts during office holiday parties but, keeping it simple is key. Stick to fun office supplies or sweet treats and keep the price tag below $30. The reason is simple; you don’t want to be seen as seeking favoritism from supervisors or coworkers. It’s also best to avoid gag gifts. While you may not intend to, gifts like these could offend the recipient.. Lastly, if you want to give gifts, don’t restrict it to just one person, include everyone. However, if you want to give to just one person, then it is better done outside the office.

8. Avoid posting party pictures online without permission: Pictures taken during work-related or sponsored events should not be posted on social media platforms if they are not suitable for displaying on the office fridge. So, if you think a photo is even a little inappropriate then it should not be on the internet. If the pictures feature your colleagues, make sure you have their permission to post the pictures online beforehand. 

What say you? Do you have a funny/embarrassing office party story? 

Let’s swap stories in the comments or on social!  FB | Twitter


Facebook Comments

T. Espinoza is CEO at The Style Medic. She's the Diva next door, the girlfriend who always looks Fab but doesn’t spend a bundle. She works with the active, focused Diva who wants to look fly, save time and most of all, save money. T. can help you streamline your wardrobe, maximize your budget and take your style from flat-lined to FABULOUS!


  1. Pingback: Style Rx: How to Rock Boots with Skirts! - The Style Medic

  2. John


    I don't like office parties. Even though I am the one to organize them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.