How to Survive the Company Holiday Party

The holidays are coming, and so are the holiday office party invitations. Holiday parties are wonderful occasions where you get to celebrate another year of hard work and success with your colleagues. However, it’s important to remember that they’re a business function above all else and it is essential to maintain proper etiquette when attending such an event. It’s an opportunity for you to make a lasting impression on your co-workers and higher management, and can potentially help advance your career.

Business Holiday Etiquette

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Remember the following etiquette tips and you’re more than likely to see next year’s festivities:


One of the most important things you can do is RSVP for the event. For the experienced party planner, it’s always frustrating to be in the dark about who is attending. The company needs to make important planning decisions and account for expenses, so be considerate and RSVP as early as possible.

2. Arrive on time and stay for the duration of the event

While most may not realize it, people will notice when someone arrives “fashionably late” or sneaks out early. Your presence, or lack thereof, during a company get-together can influence how your colleagues perceive you. Arrive on time and stay for the entire event. It’s not only good manners, but you can also make the most of a valuable opportunity to get to know the company and the people you work with.

3. Dress to impress

How you present yourself can make all the difference and you never want to be caught over- or under-dressed for such an important occasion. Read the invitation carefully to determine the appropriate party attire. The little black dress for the ladies (avoid anything too revealing, shiny or over-embellished) and dark suit for the gentlemen can cover multiple dress code categories and are great solutions for when you are having difficulty figuring out what to wear. Just add some stand-out accessories such as a clutch bag or patterned tie and you are ready for a night of fun and conversation.

4. Eat but don’t overdo it

Food is usually a given for such a joyous affair and, let’s face it, can arguably be one of the more exciting aspects of the party. However, be smart and utilize this important get-together to get to know that co-worker who works down the hall or strike up conversation with your direct supervisor.  You don’t want to be seen lingering at the food table all evening or be caught with double plates when your boss comes over to shake your hand. It helps to eat something small before the party to ward off excessive hunger so you can spend less time indulging and more time mingling.

5. Be engaged

There’s no better time to meet company employees than when you are all conveniently in one place. It’s always great to catch up with the individuals you interact with on a regular basis, but take this opportunity to form new relationships and introduce yourself to important colleagues and supervisors you haven’t met before. Acknowledge and converse with higher executives; say hello to your boss. Keep interactions brief and do your best to greet as many people as possible. You never know where these relationships will lead to next.

6. Converse appropriately

It’s very easy to get caught up in the social atmosphere and bring up topics that may be unsuitable in the work environment. Bear in mind that these are your professional colleagues, not your best friends.  Avoid gossiping, complaining or excessive talking. Negative conversations can spread through the company like wildfire and you do not want to be associated with any harmful rumors. Instead, try discussing some of the great things the company has managed to accomplish over the last year or if you’re a newer employee, what the company is looking to accomplish in the years to come. Mention some of the great experiences you’ve had at the company so far and perhaps what you are looking forward to most. Preparing some topics before the party can help make conversation flow more smoothly.

7. Watch the alcohol intake

For those who are able to, having a celebratory drink or two throughout the evening is acceptable. However, excessive drinking will undoubtedly be noticed – and not in a positive way. Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink per hour maximum to avoid over consumption.

8. Thank party hosts and organizers

Do not forget to thank the individuals who dedicated their time and efforts to putting together a successful holiday event. Complimenting them on the delicious food or beautiful décor is a great way to start conversations and create new relationships. They will be flattered you noticed their efforts and will be more likely to remember you in the future.

9. Enjoy yourself!

While it’s important to present yourself appropriately and demonstrate proper etiquette, you are also at an event that is meant to be fun and engaging.  The office holiday party is a time to celebrate, socialize and enjoy the company of your colleagues. So relax and enjoy yourself, you deserve it!

Have some etiquette tips of your own? Share it with us! Comment below and let us know your most important company holiday party do’s and don’ts.

About the Author

Melissa is a guest blogger for FindSpark. You can find her on Twitter @mwhui and LinkedIn

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