It’s that time of year again…already. Thanksgiving Thursday morphed into Black Friday bringing us to Cyber Monday! What’s next? You guessed it…the company holiday party. Holiday parties by the very essence of their timing – i.e. before the New Year – are well placed for end of year statements which you can use to your advantage.
A dear friend of mine worked for the happiest place on earth (figure it out) in Anaheim, California. He had been repeatedly passed over for promotions and he thought that perhaps it was because he was single and not considered a stable, committed professional. One year, he invited me to his company party with intentions of being seen dressed professionally and with a date. By chance, we happened to be waiting in line with the Vice President and his wife and after briefly greeting and laughing with them, we merrily moved on our way. The next day, my friend was called into his manager’s office and offered a promotion including a new title and salary package. To this day, he feels it was this chance meeting at the company party that magically (pun intended) transformed his career trajectory.
You too can help your career at the holiday party. However, holiday party gaffs can do an equal and opposite effect. Be mindful of the image you project. My top three holiday party etiquette tips to help you survive and succeed in the company party are:
- Dress the part. That “dress for the position you want” advice applies here. Dress per the event dress code and/or (if no dress code) dress for the level you want to be. Management will be at the holiday party so let them see you as you would like to be seen! If you are looking for promotion opportunities, dress for the position you are seeking. Avoid making a slinky outfit or cool fashion statement, particularly if you work in a conservative field. Ladies: if it is décolleté to your navel or slit past your hip bones, don’t wear it. Men: Unless you are a rap star or his manager, consider where your belt line rests.
- Avoid the office gossip. Yes, this is a company party, but spare the office talk. Holiday parties are a company gift (although they often feel like an obligation). Use this opportunity to socialize and relax with your colleagues. Be an ice breaker. Ask about your associates’ families, their travel plans, favorite sports/teams…anything but the status of their project or the latest office politics! Do NOT be the office fling! It is unprofessional, disrespectful, embarrassing and career-limiting!
- Don’t be Bridget Jones. Limit your alcohol (and or $#%!^*!). It is still a professional function. Many (many many many!) years ago, at a company holiday party, I learned (the hard way) that scotch, sake, and Asahi don’t make for a great next day. Thankfully, there was no Karaoke machine at the function! Take my advice, don’t be Bridget.
Do you have any tips or funny/cringe-worthy holiday party stories to share? I would love to hear them!
If you like my writing here, please check out my blog CorporateCulturology.com. I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.