#NAMB’s Office Holiday Party Survival Guide

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Career Advice


The holidays are upon us! We’re stringing up lights and sweeping up pine needles from the living room floor. We’re making lists and checking them twice, making sure to get the perfect holiday gift for everyone who has been so good to us all year long. We’re making traditional treats to share with those we love and watching movies and listening to songs that remind us of the magic of this special time of year.

As adults, we are also attending more parties than we ever did as children and one of those soirees in particular may require the use of a very special set of skills. Holiday office parties are an annual tradition and although your work party might not be as fun as Mr. Fezziwig’s post-work bash, we’re here to get you through the merriment in one festive piece.

Deck Yourself Out Accordingly 

Unfortunately, yoga and sweatpants have no place at holiday parties and as a professional, those beloved ugly sweaters are not appropriate office party attire. If your holiday party occurs directly after work, naturally, you would not be expected to change. Why not dress up your every day work wardrobe with holiday colors so you can go from cubical to cheery?

For those accessory fiends, a little sparkle never hurt nobody! If a costume change is possible, you should dress according to the venue of your office party; which means your favorite pair of dark-wash jeans might be appropriate! On the other hand, you could bust out your cocktail-wear and add a bright bow tie, pin, shoes, or jewelry if the situation calls for it.


Go Easy on the Eggnog

While some companies will provide vouchers for cabs or other transportation fares to curb drunk driving during the holidays, the presence of alcohol should not be an invitation to overindulge. A drink or two to unwind and revel in the start of the holiday season is fine. However, embarrassing yourself in front of your colleagues and boss and endangering your job is no way to celebrate! The steadfast rule of thumb for boozing at such an event is simple: drink responsibly! It is also your duty to cut off your faithful friends who are dear to you if they’ve enjoyed too much.

Mingle All The Way

Offices are a community of people working towards a common goal. These communities may be divided according to task but share in many of the same triumphs and failures throughout their time together. In celebration of this community, holiday parties are the perfect opportunity to come together and have a little fun! Habitually, we tend to stick to the tight knit circles of those we work with directly. We are most comfortable with those we spend time with on a daily basis, but members of different departments should not be ignored. Do not be afraid to mingle! ‘Tis the season!

The Most Wonderful Time Limit

Sure, we have all heard stories of wild holiday parties–the over-drinking, the hangovers, the gossip, the hook-ups and the unexpected announcements. Sometimes, though, holiday parties are dull. Other times, they come at a time when there are so many commitments and so little time to fulfill them all. Should your office party fall under any of these categories, here is a solution you can depend on: a time limit.

In accordance with party etiquette, it is customary for guests to wait until a meal as has been served, a speech by their gracious host has been given or party-goers have had time to mingle — as previously discussed. Returning to work the following morning, shopping lists to conquer, baking and cooking to complete and family traditions are acceptable excuses ready for your use! This way, you can snack and sip but not exhaust yourself — the holidays are a marathon, not a sprint.


Holiday Feasting

As millennials burdened with student loans, car payments, rent or mortgages and a sleigh’s worth of holiday gifts to buy, what could be better than free food? From light hors d’oeuvres to diet-breaking full course meals and decadent desserts, your party is sure to have something for you to munch on. Remember, you need to keep up your strength for the wrapping and decorating ahead of you. Not to mention, stuffing a cookie in your mouth to keep from telling off that one annoying coworker is a noble sacrifice. Let your diet go for the night and enjoy!

Gifts of Good Cheer

Bearing gifts to your place of work is a tricky business. Some offices hold “Secret Santa” gift exchanges or “Yankee Swaps,” which require you to bring one present for a member of your work family. Before you panic over the endless possibilities for error, be assured these festive ice breakers almost always have a monetary limit and people are usually kind enough to provide helpful hints for gifts (for themselves or others). During this season of giving, you might feel generous and choose a gift that would benefit the whole team. A collection might be taken up to give a gift to your boss or treat yourselves for all your hard work throughout the year. Give as much as you are able. After all, it is the thought that counts.

If you feel inclined to bring something that can be enjoyed right away — like food or drink — a few things should be considered. If the party is catered, you should follow suit and bring something packaged — like treats from your favorite bakery, a bottle of wine, a fine cheese plate etc. If it is a potluck-style grub-fest and you have the time you could whip up a holiday favorite of your own (or at least pretend to…Don’t worry, Santa won’t bring you coal for calling it “homemade”). Lastly, if you are the gift opener, be grateful that someone took time out of their busy holiday schedule to pick something out just for you. No one likes a Scrooge (not even his employees or his own family, remember?)

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Milad un Nabi, Festivus or the Winter Solstice, your holiday office party should be one less thing for you to worry about. Happy Holidays and a joyous new year to all!

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