9 Ways to Ensure Your First Office Holiday Party Isn't Your Last

Published: Dec 06, 2015

Spreading Holiday Cheer or Ruining Your Career?


The office holiday party can be a great time for new employees to mingle with colleagues, network with senior management, and build strong relationships. But according to several business etiquette and workplace experts, inappropriate behavior at corporate holiday functions is one of the fastest ways an employee can sabotage his or her future at their new firm. While the office holiday event may seem like a good time to let loose, these experts warn that behavior at holiday parties can make or break an employee - especially one newly hired. Here are some tips to ensure that your first holiday party at your new job isn't your last.

1. Show up.

It may seem obvious, but according to our sources one of the most important things for new hires to do this holiday season is to simply show up to these types of functions. "Don't even consider NOT going unless you have a justifiable conflict," cautions Lydia Ramsey, business etiquette expert and president of consulting firm Manners That Sell. Even if the office party is not your idea of a good time, Ramsey says all employees should still make it a priority to attend. She says that by simply showing up for the event you are showing your gratitude to those who made it happen.

2. Arrive on time.

According to Greg Jenkins, partner at corporate event planning firm Bravo Productions, tardiness is one of the biggest etiquette blunders a new hire can make. "Arriving late to the party speaks about one's consideration of others," Jenkins says. If you are running late or something significant deters your attendance, Jenkins advises that you be gracious and apologize as soon as you arrive. "When the late arrival is nonchalant and expresses an uncaring attitude, it's greatly offensive to the host," he warns. Jodi Smith, president of business etiquette consulting firm Mannersmith, adds that there is more to arriving early than just being polite. "Most of the big-wigs tend to arrive and leave early," Smith says, so although you may be apprehensive about arriving earlier than your colleagues, it is one of the best times to make connections and build relationships with your superiors.

3. Put the phone away.

Wendy Febbraio, training manager at Stew Leonard's, the world's largest dairy store, advises party revelers check their phone at the door, as the holiday party is a time for mingling with co-workers and connecting with colleagues. "You may believe that being on your phone shows your dedication to getting things done, but the message you are conveying is quite the opposite," Febbraio says. She stresses that putting your phone away and being present in the moment is an exercise in common courtesy.

4. Dress for success...NOT a nightclub

Our experts say too many make the mistake of wearing inappropriate attire to company sponsored events. "While it is okay to dress festively, avoid anything too outrageous or revealing. Find out what the dress code is in advance and stick to it,"advises Karin Katselis, division director at marketing staffing agency The Creative Group. Katselis stresses that the dress code applies to any guests you may bring as well.

5. Don't be a wallflower.

Katselis also advises that the holiday party is no time to be timid. Instead, she recommends mingling with those you may not interact with on a daily basis. "Use this time to build rapport with people in other departments. Forging connections in different corners of your workplace can help you be more effective in your role," she says. Katselis further recommends taking the opportunity to get some face time with the higher-ups.

6. Avoid gossip, drama, and controversial conversations.

The holiday party is often a place where rumors start and reputations are damaged, warns Roxanne Peplow, professional development instructor at Illinois-based Computer Systems Institute. Peplow cautions that any and all forms of controversial conversation are "off-limits" for the evening. "Just because you are not physically in the workplace does not mean that you should discuss taboo topics like politics, religion, sex, or office gossip," Peplow advises.

7. Remember this is a company function.

"The holiday party is not the time to let down your hair or throw caution to the wind. What you say and do will live on for a long time in the minds of your associates. If your behavior is inappropriate, your career may be shorter than everyone else's memory," Ramsey warns. Instead of earning the reputation as the office partier, Ramsey advises that new hires conduct themselves with charm and savvy, and use this event as an opportunity to strengthen their professional image and leave a positive impression.

8. Celebrate with caution.

"Alcohol and business rarely mix well, so limit how much you consume," adds Ramsey. "You will want to keep your wits about you, because your after-hours conduct will have a direct bearing on your business future at the company," she warns. Ramsey advises consuming alcohol in moderation, keeping a level of professionalism, as well as keeping in mind that the event is still about business.

9. Say Thank You.

Michelle Roccia, executive vice president of employee engagement at northeast recruitment firm WinterWyman, says employees often forget how much time and effort is spent planning these types of office gatherings. "Thank the event planners for planning," says Roccia. "One or several of your colleagues spent a lot of time planning the party, so make sure you know who was responsible and thank them for their efforts." According to Roccia, a simple thank you can go a long way.

Happy Holidays.
The Team at AllCountyJobs.com    

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