How to Act at the Corporate Holiday Party

This time of year is filled with joy, family, and corporate holiday parties.  These parties are far more important than most people think, and avoiding a few big mistakes can help keep one's career moving along the right path. This article by Rob Hard highlights eight of the pitfalls that employees and managers can make when attending a company holiday party, and links to some tips for success in these areas as well. Take a second to read this article and make your company party appearance successful.

There are three major categories that these mistakes fall into: consumption, interaction, and appearance.


Within consumption we have two focuses: consumption of food, and consumption of alcohol. Both of these items need to be consumed in moderation, and for some of the same reasons.  Your food intake should be limited in a situation like this because you need to be ready to greet people at a moments' notice. Having greasy hands from those last hors d'oeuvres or a mouth full of food is very unappealing to any boss or coworker you may be greeting. Too much alcohol consumption speaks for itself. You do not want to be presenting yourself as a person without control of their faculties, and you want to remain sharp enough to have an intelligent, professional conversation with each person in attendance.


Interactions with coworkers, managers, and guests are a necessary part of the holiday work party experience.  These interactions are constant throughout the party, and must therefore be properly done.  Two of the most common pitfalls associated with interactions are talking too much and inappropriately complaining about the workplace.  Talking too much, especially to a manager or superior, can often make you sound over-confident or pompous, while maintaining a two-sided conversation allows you to get to know everyone in your office while keeping the conversations from droning on far longer than necessary.  Complaining about either the company's policies or the working conditions can only lead to bad situations.  As Hard says, "A stray comment can be quickly taken out of context and become this year's rumor mill, and your name is on it."  Be careful with your word choice, and make sure to keep with the idea that this is a celebration of the company's successes this past year, not its downfalls.


Appearance is not only about the attire you wear to a party, but also the amount and quality of the time you spend there.  When it comes to attire you may be unsure as to the dress code or professionalism of the event.  In this case look to the invitation to find specifications. An article by Cynthia Nellis titled "Party Definitions: Black Tie, Formal, Dressy Casual, and More!" is a great article to help with any confusion about the dress code based on the description.  If you are unsure beyond this point it is always appropriate to ask the hosts of the party, or in this case your bosses, what you are expected to wear.  The other side of appearance deals with active participation in the party.  Hard says, "Know this: attendance at the annual company holiday party is practically mandatory." This being said, you want to make sure that your time spent at the party is quality time, not simply a five minute appearance. Talking with coworkers, managers, and guests is extremely important, and may help to further your career if you play your cards right.

When it comes to holiday parties there may be more rules to follow than you think.  Paying attention to your consumption, interactions, and attire will help you have a very successful experience at the party, and may help to boost your career possibilities in the process.  If you remain professional and confident you are sure to have a successful holiday business party.