Leadership & Strategy | November 28, 2016

How to Not Get Fired at your Office Holiday Party

For some, the office holiday party sparks fear of unbearable social awkwardness. For others, there’s a real threat of getting too drunk and dancing on a table or flirting with a boss. Let’s be clear, the purpose of the party is to unwind and enjoy a team-building experience. Businesses don’t throw parties to roast the boss or find out who has the best dance moves.

Here’s some advice to help you enjoy your office party responsibly and appropriately. With a straight-laced attitude, you won’t get fired or ruin your career by making people afraid to promote you.

Dress the Part

Years ago, dressing for the party was simple. Everyone wore suits by day, so you simply took it down a notch for the party. Now, the lines are more blurred and your office might have no dress code at all. However, that does not mean that ripped cargo shorts and a Linkin Park tee shirt are appropriate.

Avoid outfits that are too revealing or more appropriate for a night out clubbing. If your office is casual, don’t get any more casual for the party. Still unsure? Look in the mirror and ask yourself if coworkers will walk away saying, “I didn’t know he was into that sort of thing.” If there’s a chance of that, just put on a tie.

Don’t Come Hungry

If you show up on an empty stomach, you’ll embarrass yourself by stuffing your face with hors d’oeuvres. At worst, it may even look like you are filling up on free food because of financial difficulties.

Sample the food to be polite, but come satiated enough that you aren’t desperate to eat a meal’s worth of mini empanadas. You don’t want to talk to your boss with spinach in your teeth or miss a bonding opportunity because you’re chewing nonstop.

The Anti-Drinking Game

Infrequent drinkers may be more susceptible to getting drunk at the office holiday party. You aren’t used to pacing yourself and that punch bowl or pitcher of cocktails might be stronger than anything you typically drink.

Be safe and limit yourself to one drink. A second drink is only appropriate if the event lasts many hours. Make your goal to be the soberest person attending, and you’ll be fine.

Come Alone

If people are bringing their spouses and you are unmarried, err on the side of going alone. Your long-term, live-in significant other is welcome, but do not bring a date for the sake of bringing a date. If the fling you met online last month gets drunk and falls in the cake, you take the blame.

Be Funny but Appropriate

Your co-workers might be your peers or even younger than you, but your jokes should be appropriate for your own grandmother. Besides avoiding sex, politics, religion and other non-starters, avoid making fun of your:

  • Boss
  • Underlings
  • Clients
  • Customers

It’s an office holiday party, not a roast.

Tips for Hosting

When selecting an off-site location for your office holiday party, make it fairly generic. Restaurants should serve a cuisine that would be suitable for all and be able to accommodate food allergies. Pool halls and dive bars are a bad idea. And if it’s your own home, you better figure out parking and make the home look absolutely immaculate.

Stick to these tips and you won’t have to worry about making a bad impression on your boss or co-workers that could put your job at risk during your next holiday party.

Build Your Company Culture

Are you looking for ideas to improve your office culture? Check out these ways you can engage your team.