13 Tips For Enjoying The Office Holiday Party Without Losing Your Job

December 12, 2013  |  
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If you’re working the average 9 to 5, one of the things you have to look forward to at this time of the year is the annual office holiday party.  Maybe your party isn’t as fun as the shindigs thrown by the Party Planning Committee of Dunder Mifflin on The Office, but at least you can watch your boss dance totally off beat and your co-workers make drunken fools of themselves.  There’s a balance to avoid making a fool of yourself while making your own fun.  Unsure of how to hold your own? Check out 13 ways to keep it professional while still getting the party popping:

Mingle a little with EVERYONE, even those you don’t know.

As with any party, if you spend your night in a corner tweeting about how lame your office party is, the chances are you’re looking just as lame.  You don’t want to play bouncer at the dessert table with the one co-worker you actually like either. Even I’m still getting used to this, but try to mingle and make small talk with different people. Bring up popular news topics or keep the conversation to the holidays and ask about plans with friends and families.

Limit yourself to two drinks.

This should be obvious, but all over the country around this time of year, employees get caught in the copy room getting it cracking with the otherwise unattractive mail guy because they had one Peppermint martini too many.  Have a few drinks and if you feel the slightest bit “stumbly,” stop drinking and have some water.  You will get talked about over the water cooler come Monday morning when the pictures of you hit Facebook using a stapler as a microphone while you sing the slurred version of “Santa Baby.”


Save the booty popping for the club.

In fact, just keep all club behavior (and clothing) regulated to the club.  Just because they’re playing “The Wobble” doesn’t mean your office is suddenly the place to drop down low and sweep the floor in your bandage dress.  Remember, these are the same people you have to look in the eye come Monday morning and go over PowerPoint presentations with.  You don’t want their last vision of you to be you twerking somethin’, one cheek at a time.

Get a little fancy, but understand these are still the people you work with.

There are a lot of women who have trouble distinguishing club clothes from office attire.  Here’s a hint: Your cleavage shouldn’t be standing at attention and if you find yourself tugging and tucking every five minutes so that you can keep body parts in their proper place, don’t wear it.  You want to look a little extra, but you also want to have fun without exposing all your goods.  Don’t go for the 5″ pumps that you can’t stand in for more than 10 minutes in and avoid wearing black. Black is easy and doesn’t require much effort to look good in. Go for a pop of color so you can stand out and look better than everyone else in pictures.

Don’t do a dine and dash.

It’s not enough to pop in the party for five seconds and bolt at the first sign of unnecessary small talk.  Make it a point to socialize for a little while. If it helps, bring a family member or friend if that’s allowed, preferably one who is good at small talk and charming new people.  That way you can keep busy by introducing them to new people and you’ll have someone you feel comfortable around so that you can avoid “Awkward Black Girl” moments where you’re wandering around aimlessly.

Don’t invite an entourage.

Lucky you if your office allowed you to bring a few friends along to suffer through line dances and entertaining annoying co-workers. That doesn’t mean you should bring all of your 15th street crew with you.  One of the biggest complaints I heard from employers is about the employee who brings a whole posse of people for free drinks and food and then stands in a corner all night acting anti-social and talking about others.  Be respectful, especially if there are freebies and limit your guests to no more than three people.

Be mindful of how much of your personal life to bring to the party.

If you spent the past few months talking about your trifling baby daddy or the friend whom you know catches an attitude like some people catch a cold, you might not want to bring that particular person as your guest.  The night will be filled with gossip, shade-throwing and judgment, guaranteed.  You know your co-workers best, and if they’re the type to make your business a priority in their day planner, you might want to limit how much they know about your personal life.

Prep your guest.

And while we’re on the subject of choosing your guests wisely, make sure you prep said selected guest.  Make sure they know co-worker’s real names so they don’t slip up with a, “You must be Lambchop,” to the co-worker with an addiction to five-foot false eyelashes.

Hor d’oeuvres are meant to coat your stomach, not feed you like Sunday dinner at Granny’s.

Don’t be typical and go to a holiday party with your stomach on growl, loading up plates of pigs in a blanket, shrimp, fruit and cheese.  I am a firm believer in the fact that hor d’oeuvres are simply meant to keep people’s hands busy at the party because by its very nature, cocktail hour can be awkward.  Eat a decent lunch before you head out to celebrate, enough to give your liquor something to sit on, but not enough so that you’re too bloated to do the Cupid Shuffle.

Show your face at least.

Luckily, my attendance at my office’s holiday party got counted as time on the clock, but this isn’t true for most people.  If it’s a job you enjoy and intend on having for a while, make it a point to show your face even if it’s only for an hour.  I know that these are the people you see for eight hours of the day, seven days a week, and having to spend any extra time with them may really push the limits of your patience, but it’s nice to sometimes see your colleagues after hours when everyone doesn’t have to be so uptight pretending to be busy.  Besides, even if you hate your job, you may end up making small talk with your next employer.

Don’t volunteer talents you know you don’t have.

If the most experience you have DJ’ing  is scoring seven “Euphorias” on a single song in DJ Hero, you won’t suddenly turn into FunkMaster Flex when you clock out at 5, nor does anyone care for the way you kill Beyoncé’s “Dangerously in Love” at karaoke.  I hate when the receptionist suddenly thinks she’s Whitney Houston circa 1986 at the holiday party after she’s had a few white wine spritzers.  And I love how they only sing songs they think they sound good belting out, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with the holiday, or what’s going on in the moment.  Why exactly are you belting out “Son of a Preacher Man” again?

Don’t hang out with people you’d otherwise avoid just so you won’t be lonely.

Holiday parties have a way of revealing just how socially awkward your co-workers are off the clock.  So even though you’ve ignored me for a majority of the year and tried to throw me under the bus behind closed doors to the boss, now you are so invested in deep conversations with me so you can avoid having to introduce yourself to strangers?  Psych! Excuse me while I make my way to the cheesecake and keep up what we’ve had going throughout the rest of the work week.

Don’t feel pressure to work.

Maybe you’re at a point in your life where you are grinding and using every opportunity to get noticed by the higher-ups you can, but you have the whole work week to do that.  If you can’t fall back at the holiday party, when can you?  More than likely your supervisors are feeling the same way and don’t want to spend the evening doing an interview or hearing your pitch for why you deserve a raise.  If you can’t find a way to casually and cleverly slip in why you are a good candidate for a promotion, wait until Monday morning to make a good impression.

Toya Sharee is a community health  educator  and   parenting education coordinator who has a passion  for helping  young women  build  their self-esteem and make  well-informed choices  about their sexual  health. She  also  advocates for women’s  reproductive rights and blogs about  everything  from  beauty to love  and relationships. Follow her on Twitter   @TheTrueTSharee or visit  her blog Bullets  and  Blessings .


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