Navigating a social event with people that you work with can be an interesting experience. For some people, any party is a source of stress, let alone one where you might be seated with your boss! Just because someone is a work colleague, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy interacting with them casually as well. As long as everyone conducts themselves appropriately, there is no reason that office parties can’t be fun! In case you’re still feeling nervous, here are some helpful tips and things to avoid at your workplace Christmas party!
Attend the party!
You’re a part of the office community, which means you should actually go to the party! Don’t let tales of uncomfortable workplace events discourage you from socializing with your colleagues, particularly when your office has put effort into organizing something nice for everyone. If you skip every office party, you lose an opportunity to get to know the people you work with on another level. While your coworkers bond and build stronger relationships, which can be beneficial professionally, you might find that you start to feel out of the loop by not attending. These are people that you see almost every day so try not to treat them like strangers, especially around the holidays!
Remember to RSVP
Once you know whether you can attend the party, be courteous about responding to whoever is planning so that they can keep track of numbers. Try not to forget and leave your RSVP unanswered until the very last minute. Planners need responses as soon as possible so they can account for your attendance when organizing place settings, prizes, or food quantities. If the invite includes a date that they’d like you to respond by, make sure to respect it.
Usually, office Christmas parties are open to guests. Your invitation should specify whether guests are encouraged or whether the event is for employees only. Similarly, the invitation should tell you whether it extends to your whole family or just one additional person. If you work for a small company that is hosting an afternoon crafting party with Santa, employees might be encouraged to bring their children along for the day. If, however, the event is a Friday night dinner with musical entertainment, you’ll likely be instructed to limit your guests to one adult. If you’re not sure, ask for clarification rather than assuming and doing the wrong thing! Also be sure to RSVP for guests when you respond for yourself, out of courtesy for the person planning.
Check the dress code
The expected dress code will be different for an afternoon tea in the company owner’s home than it will be for a fancy dinner at a hotel downtown. Make sure to check your invitation for a dress code so that both you and your guest can dress accordingly. If the invitation isn’t clear or you are unsure, ask the person planning what their expectation is. You want to avoid showing up to a formal event in your jeans, or a casual event in your Sunday’s best! Dressing to the same level as everyone else will let you feel more comfortable and give you one less thing to worry about during the party.
Arrive on time
Being a little bit early or fashionably late isn’t usually a big problem. The chances of having everyone arrive right on time are very low. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should actually plan to show up before or after the time on your invitation. Aim for the correct hour, and do your best to meet that time out of respect for your hosts. It won’t reflect well on you if you come in very late after speeches or activities have already started, or if you arrive so early that you’re in the way while the finishing touches are still being put on the event. Everyone understands that things happen, but do your best to arrive on time, just like you do for a regular day at work!
Work parties have a unique dynamic! You are suddenly in a social situation with people that you might have only been around professionally before. Don’t let that make you nervous! This is an opportunity for you to get to know the people around you, and vice versa! You can use this fun setting to meet new people, network, and settle into the office community a little more comfortably if you’re feeling shy. Try not to exclude yourself from conversations by hovering around the edges or avoiding your coworkers. Introduce yourself to people that you haven’t met yet and strike a balance between listening to people and contributing to conversation yourself. Chances are that you’ll forget your shyness in no time once the festivities are under way!
Some office Christmas parties will feature fun games or friendly competitions for prizes. Even if you think it’s silly to have games at an adult party, you should consider participating. These things are meant for lightening the mood and bonding with the people around you. Particularly if you’re shy about conversation, taking part in games or activities gives you an opportunity to engage with the people around you, but with a focus that saves you from having to make small talk! Being an active part of the festivities can be a lot of fun, and participating helps you come off as personable. Did your office choose an ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ theme for your holiday party? Even if you feel silly wearing one, try using that as a chance to bond with your coworkers by getting the ugliest Christmas sweater you can find. If nothing else, it’ll be a good conversation piece!
All things in moderation
Christmas parties are full of great food, yummy deserts, and drinks to help you unwind. Remember, though, that moderation is the key. This is a social gathering and you’re supposed to have fun, but you’re still in the presence of your bosses and coworkers! They won’t be impressed if you take large greedy handfuls of food, regardless of whether other people have served themselves yet. Similarly, it won’t make the best impression if you have too much to drink. Having one or two glasses of wine with some food to relax and calm your nerves is acceptable, and maybe even encouraged, but don’t go overboard on the liquid courage! You’ll be less embarrassed later if coworkers noticed that you were a little shy at the party than you will if coworkers noticed that you fell down the stairs on the way to the bathroom. Remember, the purpose of the night is just to have fun!
Get home safely
There’s nothing wrong with toasting a drink or two with your colleagues at the office Christmas party, but make sure that you can get home safely! Organize a carpool with a designated driver or take a taxi if you decide to enjoy the rum and eggnog. A great holiday party where nobody is hurt is the best kind of send off at the end of the year!