Ah, December: a month filled with festive decorations, hot chocolate, and the long-awaited company holiday party.
Company holiday parties are a fun occasion to celebrate the season with your friends, family, and colleagues. However, even if the party has all of the trappings of an event you would throw at your home, such as food, alcohol, and party games, it’s still a work function. We're aware that last bit can be easy to forget, which is why we put together this post.
To help you have fun at this year’s holiday party without embarrassment, check out our top 10 rules for things to do (and to avoid) with your colleagues, direct reports, and managers.
10 Dos & Don'ts for Your Company Holiday Party
1) Don't skip the party.
Whether you’ve been invited to another function on the same date or you're simply feeling antisocial, avoid turning to your backlog of excuses to get out of this year's party.
Social work functions are great opportunities to get to know your teammates, meet and network with people you don’t work with directly, and have fun with the people you spend 40 (plus) hours a week with.
At the risk of sounding cliché, don’t be a Grinch -- go to the party.
2) Don't talk about work excessively.
The holiday party is a work event, but that doesn’t mean you should talk shop the entire time. You’re there to have fun, so mingle with colleagues. Ask about their plans for the holidays, meet friends and family members your coworkers brought with them, and don’t forget the cardinal rule of conversation in mixed company: avoid politics and religion.
Ask questions, don’t monopolize the conversation, and if you get stuck, here are some networking tips to check out.
3) Don't bring an inappropriate gag gift to the swap.
If your office plans a gift swap or Secret Santa for your company party, remember that your coworkers and supervisors will be witnessing your gift being unwrapped. You can purchase something funny, but not inappropriately so. Our advice? Stick to the price limit and grab something thoughtful for your deskmate. (Here's a list of Secret Santa gift ideas to inspire your search.)
4) Don't appear bored or antisocial.
Everyone is glued to their phones these days, but try to resist the urge to constantly check texts and social media at the office holiday party. Hiding your face behind a screen sends the message that you don’t want anyone to talk to or approach you, and that’s not the way to make connections with your colleagues. Leave your phone at your desk and you’ll appear more engaging and have better conversations with people.
5) Don't drink too much.
With parties comes alcohol, and we highly encourage that you drink in moderation at the office holiday party. When supervisors and executives are around, you’re better off erring on the side of cautious. You don’t want to cause a scene, discuss anything inappropriate, or make coworkers uncomfortable, and those can happen if inhibitions are lowered.
If you don’t want to come into work the next day wondering if you jeopardized your job, drink wisely -- and be sure to sample the snacks, too.
6) Dress festively (but not inappropriately).
Use good judgment and stick to the office’s dress code policy when you’re getting decked out for the company party. Here at HubSpot, we’re huge fans of ugly holiday sweaters, but generally speaking, avoid wearing anything to the work party that could double as an outfit for a night out at the club. Office parties are fun, but should still be professional.
7) Be careful with what you share on social media.
You may be tempted to live-tweet your office holiday party or post videos to your Snapchat Story, but keep what you’re sharing on social media innocuous. Your colleagues likely wouldn’t appreciate you posting candid photos of them without them knowing, so stick to posting group photos you all posed for.
Additionally, make sure you’re not inadvertently posting sensitive company information visible on computer screens or white boards if the party is held at your office.
8) Meet new people.
Have fun at the party with your work buddies, but don’t miss opportunities to meet new people. You may not have the chance to mingle with other teams very often, so take advantage of the fun atmosphere to make new friends, too.
If someone introduces you to a client, an executive, or their partner, have an interesting follow up ready after they inevitably ask you what you do at your company. HubSpot Staff Writer Aja Frost put together a comprehensive list of conversation starters for every occasion -- my favorite is “Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or Slytherin?”
Remember: You’re more than just your job title, so come ready to chat with a story, a joke, or a question to get the ball rolling.
9) Skip the dancing. Or just avoid "getting it started" like Elaine.
Dancing is fun, but read the room before you start busting out your signature move like poor Elaine on “Seinfeld.” If people are dancing on a designated dance floor, you should feel free to join in, but remember that you’re at a work event. Always refer back to number five on this list (don’t drink too much), don’t make people uncomfortable, and when in doubt, skip it altogether.
10) Thank the host.
If you can’t thank them in person at the party, be sure to follow up with a thank-you note or email for your events manager. It’s hard work to plan an event for an entire company -- make sure it’s not thankless work, too.
Every company is different, so these are flexible suggestions. When in doubt, abide by your company’s culture whenever you’re at a work event. Be respectful, engage with your colleagues, and have fun. We hope you have a warm and happy holiday season this year.
What’s your advice for company holiday party etiquette? Share with us in the comments below.