Opinion: How to behave at an office party

5 etiquette tips for a holiday business event

Credit: MarinaMays/iStock

5 etiquette tips for a holiday business event

Attending holiday events such as the office holiday party is a great way to get involved and contribute to creating an inclusive environment. Although it’s an opportunity for everyone to let loose and connect on other levels besides work, keep in mind that the event is still a part of your professional career. 

1. Show up

Spending time outside of work with colleagues may or may not be your cup of tea, but remember that it’s important to attend to major events such as the yearly holiday party. For one, it shows respect to your employer, especially if they’re footing the bill for the event. The atmosphere they’re trying to create for their staff can only be achieved if employees are present.

2. Limit your indulgences

The office holiday party is a great way to relax after a possibly stressful year. Each company has its own unique relationships and ways of letting loose, but don’t forget that however wild the event becomes, you’re still expected to act professionally. By all means, drink wine, dance, eat and enjoy yourself—just make sure that you’re always in control and not acting in a way that would make you want to hide your face in the office the next day.

3. Dress the part

Although most parties are held after work hours, keep in mind that it is still an “office” party. This means that although you may not be expected to dress as conservatively as you would at work, you’re still expected to look professional both inside and outside of the office. Clubwear would not be an appropriate choice. If you’re feeling stuck, rely on the invitation to help gauge what the dress code is. Pay attention to where the event is being held; the type of venue and its dress codes can help you select an appropriate outfit.

4. Mingle

Take the time to socialize with colleagues you may not know very well. Your employer has organized this event to boost staff engagement and make everyone feel included. It would be polite to take the time and mingle with everyone. In our business etiquette courses, we discuss the importance of mingling in a U shape versus an O shape to allow an opening for others to move in and out and avoid feeling left out of the “circle.”

5. Be thankful

Make sure you take the time to thank your employer for the event. You can make this even more personal by picking something specific that you appreciated. By being specific, you’re showing that you noticed the details and are not just thanking them generically. An example: “Thank you for putting on such a great party—I especially loved the dessert selections.”

Sunita Padda is a masters-level B.C.-certified teacher and the founder of TableSmarts. To inquire about TableSmarts’ Dining + Social Etiquette and corporate classes, please contact: info@tablesmarts.ca