It’s Holiday Party Time! How to Find the Perfect Mix of Work and Play at the Company Celebration


‘Tis the season for holiday gatherings, including the company holiday party. It’s likely your employer will have some sort of celebration: More than 90 percent of businesses held one in 2015, up from 75 percent in 2014, according to executive search firm Battalia Winston.

Many organizations today are more likely to have frequent social events throughout the year, which in many ways can relieve the pressure on the office party. However, a holiday social event is still the opportunity to up your game as you mix and mingle with colleagues. The chance to create cross-departmental allies and network informally with peers and coworkers up and down the ladder, many of whom you may seldom see, is a great reason to join the party.

It should go without saying that you should drink in moderation. Here are a few additional tips to help you get in the (appropriate) party spirit.

Be Ready With Appropriate Holiday Party Small Talk

“In addition to keeping conversations brief, event guests should also remember that this is meant to be a time when everyone can celebrate the successes of the year. That means a cheerful mood. Remember, stories are often heard by others who are nearby, and those people will add their own spin to the story. A stray comment can quickly be taken out of context and become this year’s rumor mill, and your name is on it … Tips: Compliment colleagues and managers. Identify safe topics to share before the event. Switch topics if you or someone else begins to complain.” —  Read more at The Balance.  

Business Casual Dress is Hard, But Party Clothes Can Be Harder

“Don’t pull the nightclub attire from your closet for the event — and do ask whether the attire for the party is formal or casual. The party is still a business function, so conservative party clothes are a good choice. So, do remember to skip anything too revealing or too flashy. Keep your reputation for good taste intact.”  —  Read more at LiveCareer.com.  

On the One Hand: Yes, You Have to Go

“Unless you already have other plans that night that you absolutely cannot miss or change, show up to the office holiday party. ‘You may not want to go,’ says [etiquette expert Barbara] Pachter, but it’s important that you show your commitment to the company. ‘Your absence will be noticed, and most likely, noted by your boss and other higher ups,’ she adds.”  —  Read more at Business Insider.  

On the Other Hand: Managers, Cut Your Employees Some Slack

Bosses, please recognize that not everyone likes a party. Not everyone wants to hire a babysitter to hang out with colleagues that one spends 40+ hours a week with anyway. Not everyone likes these events. Lots of people do, but coming to the holiday party vs. not coming to the holiday party does not indicate whether an employee is loyal or hardworking or whatever.” —  Read more at Inc.

Let’s hear your favorite party tip: What’s your perfect office party outfit, a fun small talk suggestion or the most creative company party you’ve been to? Share with all of us in the comments below.

Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

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