Long long ago, in a world before live streaming and constant social media posting, what happened at the holiday office party stayed at the holiday office party. In those olden times, you might have done something at the party that got you clowned by your coworkers the following week. What you didn’t do was worry about the whole world weighing in on your behavior. But as one young Midwestern girl once said to her dog… “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” In the digital era, you could be trending all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube before you ever realize you had one drink too many. One of the biggest concerns in today’s work environment is how much fun can I have without getting canned in the process? We hear your pain. You work hard all year and you deserve at least one event to play hard.
Now we’re not suggesting that anyone go and get loose like you’re the Wolf of Wall Street (especially if your boss isn’t Jordan Belfort). Yes. You can let your hair down a little and have a good time, but keep in mind it’s still an “Office Party” and with today’s sharing technologies, your company’s image is as much on display as your own. Whether you’re an independent contractor, an employee in a local establishment, or a large organization, it’s a good rule of thumb to know some basic ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ when it comes to office party etiquette. So to help you out, we’ve complied our own 7 Cool Tips for surviving your company’s holiday party in the digital age.
NTO’s 7 Cool Tips For Surviving Your Holiday Office Party
1. Keep it Classy
No one knows better than the employees, when it comes to what kind of company they work for. Maybe it’s a very casual ‘party with the boss’ type of environment or maybe it’s straight corporate and formal. Either way, how you and/or your date dress for the party should ultimately reflect that vibe. If you have to question, rationalize, or justify the type of outfit you plan to wear, it may not be appropriate for this event. If you’re unsure then try this simple trick. In your mind, picture a coworker, colleague, or random guest showing up dressed in what you’re planning to wear. If you’d talk questionably about them, it’s likely that others might just talk about you the same way. Obviously, there are a number of variables to this equation, but it’s a good start point. You can always ask a good friend or coworker for their opinion. But keep in mind, just because they may not give you the feedback you want to hear, it doesn’t necessarily make them haters!
2. Be Respectful of Other People’s Space and Moments
In society, we have gotten used to everyone capturing and sharing everything to social media all the time. There is nothing wrong with that, if it is your life you’re choosing to share. When it comes to sharing other people’s personal moments, try to be more considerate. Your coworker(s) may not want to be a feature photo on your Instagram or have a personal or not so flattering moment streamed live on your FB page. God forbid you accidentally do that to your boss or the company’s CEO. The new year might be a year of you exploring some new job opportunities. This year let’s give our friends and coworkers the gift of not sticking a phone in their face and making them the star of someone else’s show. At least ask first. Don’t just assume it’s okay. Giving respect is a great way to get respect and that can go a long way in the workplace.
3. Take a Cue From Jack White & Erykah Badu: Put Your Phone Down
As we stated above, everyone is capturing and sharing everything to social media all the time. Do something different this holiday season and treat yourself to living in the moment. Enjoy the decorations. Enjoy the music. Enjoy the food. Enjoy actually mixing and mingling. Are you truly living in the moment if you are more concerned with capturing and sharing everything that’s happening with the people who aren’t there? Taking & posting pics is fine, but we shouldn’t give more importance to the likes we get online over and above the actual moment we are experiencing. Putting the phone away for a while also gives you a chance to work the room. This is especially helpful in larger companies, where networking is key to making new and sometimes necessary connections.
4. Don’t Go “Deebo” On The Bar or The Buffet
For those of you who don’t get the reference, Deebo is the big, musclebound, neighborhood bully, from the “Friday” movie. He pretty much did and took whatever he wanted, simply because he could. A great buffet is always welcomed and everyone loves an open bar or having a pocket full of drink tickets. Add a cool DJ or live band to that and you’ve got the ingredients for a really good time. Once again, keep in mind it’s still an “Office Party”. Don’t be a Deebo, trying to get everything there is to get (at least not all at once). Small plates & small portions look way better. Unless you haven’t eaten in a month, there is never reason to crash through a buffet or bar as if rescuers just found you in the woods. This is yet another area to keep it classy and if not classy, at least keep it in moderation. Most holiday party etiquette rules say to not consume more than 2 drinks. At the risk of keeping it a little too real, in my opinion that figure depends on what you’re drinking and how you hold your liquor. One persons’ rum & coke is another persons’ 3 beers. My suggestion is know your limit and then cut it in half. If you don’t know your limit then ask the last person who had to drive you home how much you had to drink, then cut that by 75%.
5. No Dirty Dancing
Now in the extended era of backing that thang up and dropping it like it’s hot, some will read this and say… “C’mon! That’s like a normal thing in the club.” Listen. No one is trying to be the ‘Groove Police’ over here. We’re just saying there is a time and space for everything and your holiday office party may not be the right place to start bumpin’ and grindin’. What we do off hours, after hours, and away from the potentially judging eyes of those that oversee our jobs and careers is one thing. Putting it right in their faces is another. And depending who you work for, they may find that type of interaction uncomfortable and unprofessional. Just remember. Not only is your coworker who live streams everything probably catching this, but so might that HR rep who’s gonna call you in on Monday to go over what policy you just violated. Use good judgment. This is another reason why you do not want to go all Deebo on the bar.
6. Don’t Be “That Guy” or “That Girl”
If you’re already laughing at the title, then you know what we mean. At every party, no matter whether it is in a house, backyard, nightclub, or event venue, there’s always that one person who shows out like they haven’t left the house in years. Sometimes it’s a friend. Sometimes it’s a stranger. Sometimes it could even be us. That “Don’t Be” person can come in a variety of flavors such as:
- The Competitive Dancer – Like the shows “America’s Got Talent” or “Hit The Floor”, this person wants to show everyone how great of a dancer they are or at the least all the new moves they just learned in their Zumba class. Unless there is an official contest with prizes being offered at this party, try to avoid turning the dance floor into a battle zone. Another word of advice… If you’re dancing really really hard and you hear the crowd repetitively chanting GO! and then your name, you’ll probably be on YouTube in the morning.
- The Jokester – We all know the feeling of cracking jokes at a party and having people laughing their butts off. It’s a truly great feeling to catch that comedians high, but there is such a thing as taking it too far. Just like drinking, know your limits. Things can go from edgy and funny to upsetting and offensive, in a heartbeat. Be like a boxer. Stick and move. Otherwise, you might be the one who gets hit. Another rule of thumb, if everyone tells you you’re not funny, you’re probably not. Cut your losses. Don’t try to own the room.
- The Flirt – Once again, sometimes it’s a friend. Sometimes it’s a stranger. Sometimes it could even be us. There’s a thin line between cute and creepy. Respect it. This is yet another reason for adhering to the moderation rule. Every company and their dynamics are different. But for the majority out there, you probably do not want to come off as promiscuous or pervy. Classy is timeless.
- The Carry Out (Pt.1) – This tends to happen when people violate Tip #4 and go Deebo on the bar. You never want to be the last ones to leave and you sure enough don’t want to be the one who had to be carried out. If this somehow does happen, the best you can hope for is that your coworker who likes to live stream everything would’ve already left.
- The Carry Out (Pt.2) – This applies to folks who loved the food so much, they just gotta take some home. At a non-formal event this may not be an issue, but for a more formal company function, asking the servers for paper plates and plastic bags may not be the best look. Now I’ve been to plenty parties and events over the years and have left with my fair share of doggie bags. I’m guilty as charged, but I won’t do that at any formal function. For one, they usually don’t have paper plates and two, I don’t make it a habit of bringing plastic bags with me to other people’s parties. Rule of thumb, if the host or caterer doesn’t offer it, don’t take it.
And The Most Important Tip of ALL…
7. Avoid Talking Politics or Religion
Nothing takes the wind out of a party’s sail faster than a screaming match that started over opposing political or religious views. Do yourself a favor, keep it light and fun. Don’t let a truly unnecessary conversation kill your night or cost you your job. You didn’t get all dressed up for a party just to come back home mad. If someone else brings it up, that’s okay. You don’t have to engage. Simply try to change the conversation. If you can’t and they want to dig in, there is no shame in excusing yourself and moving on. Hey, it’s a party. There are a dozen other conversations going on. Choose one.
Obviously, we’re having some fun with the etiquette rules for office parties, but seriously no one should ever lose their job at the holiday party. End the year not your career. We wish you all a wonderful and safe holiday season and an amazing new year!