8 Holiday Party Faux Pas to Avoid

8 Holiday Party Faux Pas to Avoid

by Heleigh Bostwick, November 2010

It comes around once a year and it's not your birthday—it's the office holiday party. Whether you look forward to it or dread it, it's the one party you usually have no choice but to attend, especially in this economic climate. It's also the one party that comes with some dos and don'ts, especially if you want to maintain good working relationships with your employer.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid embarrassing holiday party faux pas and make it the best holiday office party ever.

1. Arriving Late

Yes it's a party, but remember, your boss is attending. The holiday office party is really a work function and not a social function—it's important to arrive on time or, at least, soon after the party begins. The only thing worse than showing up late is not showing up at all.

2. Dressing Inappropriately

Unless the invite says black tie, men usually wear similar attire to what they wear to the office everyday. Women, on the other hand, usually like to dress up. For women, it's best to stick to understated clothing—like a simple black dress. Save the sequins, frilly lace, plunging necklines and cleavage-revealing outfits for clubbing or a night on the town.

3. Drinking Too Much

It's easy to let loose at the office holiday party, especially if the party's on a Friday night after a long week at work. But resist the temptation. Having a drink or two while you mingle is fine, but stop yourself from going any further. No one wants to see a coworker dancing wildly or making a fool of him or herself. Save it for your New Year's Eve party with friends!

4. Eating Too Much

Along with drinking too much, although not quite as bad, is eating too much. It's best to eat a little at home before you arrive so you aren't starving. That way, you can spend more of your time mingling rather than eating. Eating can sometimes be a way to hide from talking to people you might not know well. Use the opportunity of the holiday party to get to know people you might not normally interact with in your job. It's a good idea to cultivate new friendships when possible.

5. Complaining

Whether it's about the food, music or lack of a bonus, keep the complaints to yourself. Remember, the office holiday party is your employers' way of showing appreciation to employees for all the hard work they've done all year, not a discussion group on what you don't like about the company. Don't be seen as a whiner.

6. Talking About Your Personal Life

Although you may be at a party, it's a good idea to remember you are with coworkers and not friends. Avoid discussing your personal life with your colleagues—no one wants to hear about problems with your spouse. Rather, stick to conversational topics such as books or films, sports or hobbies.

7. Gag Gifts

Not all office parties include a gift exchange, but if yours does, be sure to choose the right kind of gift. Avoid giving a gag gift—and especially avoid giving a gift that is suggestive. Not everyone has your same sense of humor and you never know when someone might take offense. Stick to gifts like plants, gift cards or tickets to be safe.

8. Being a Grinch

Last but not least, no one wants to be around a grinch who spoils the mood, so while you may not enjoy going to the office holiday party every year, you still need to attend, so put on a happy face and just do it.