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The Definitive Do’s and Don’ts of Office Holiday Parties

The holiday season is quickly approaching and that means an onslaught of party after party. Some you look forward to, like your Friendsgiving dinner. Some you dread, like your weird second cousin’s ugly Christmas sweater party that you only attend to be polite. But there are some that are harder to navigate, like the office holiday party. When in doubt, here are the definitive Do’s and Don’ts of the annual office holiday party.

Don’t dress too revealing…

Holiday parties are appealing because it’s an opportunity to dress up in something nicer than your coworkers normally see you in. But even if you think that low-cut dress is tasteful and on-trend and therefore acceptable, it’s not. Save revealing outfits for non-work related parties, and choose something more professional for work shindigs.

…Do dress up

But that doesn’t mean you should dress in the same old pantsuit you wear to the office! Whether you work in a business formal environment or at a super laid-back startup, you should make an effort to dress to impress, always.

Don’t be on your phone the whole time…

Snap a couple photos then put your phone away for the night. That means leaving your Snapchat and Instagram stories alone. Why? You don’t seem approachable or in the moment if you’re constantly on your phone and ignoring people. Also, it’s not very professional and can make you appear vain and immature. So tuck it away. You’ll be OK.

…Do network

Forego social media for in-person social networking! It’s the perfect opportunity to talk to your coworkers about whatever outside projects they may be working on, and a chance for your boss to get to know you more outside of the hustle and bustle of the workplace.

Don’t get drunk…

Obvious, right? A few free drink tickets or an open bar may sound like a good opportunity to load up on alcohol, but it’s not. Remember that even though you’re off the clock, you’re still at a work function. You don’t want to get tipsy and say something inappropriate.

…Do enjoy a drink or two (if you want)

By all means, have a drink or two. Just know your limit and be cognizant of when ‘having a good time’ turns into ‘speaking a little too loudly’. Getting a little buzzed may be acceptable on a night out with friends and family, but remember that at work functions, it’s your professional reputation on the line.

Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want your boss to hear…

With the drinks, the food and the loud music, it might seem like an acceptable time to let your guard down and make a few off-color jokes. Keep in mind that these are still your professional peers and just because you’re off the clock doesn’t mean you’re off the record. A good rule of thumb is to not say anything you wouldn’t be OK with your boss hearing.

…Do loosen up

It’s a party, after all! While you should take your setting into account, it’s also important to loosen up and have a good time. Don’t hide in the corner with your date the whole night. Take it as an opportunity to get to know your coworkers. You might be surprised to find out that Shy Sheila from HR does roller derby on the weekends.

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Ashley Kim

Ashley Kim recently graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Film Studies and a minor in Sociology and is now working as a copywriter. Currently living in Southern California but originally from Seattle, her time is spent writing, staying current in the world of entertainment, and dreaming up her next travel adventure. She can be found on her blog and Twitter.