Dos and Don’ts for the Office Holiday Party: Employee Edition

Dos and Don’ts for the Office Holiday Party: Employee Edition

Dos and Don’ts for the Office Holiday Party: Employee Edition

Is the holiday office party a perk or a pest? It’s hard to say, as I never much cared for them, but I will say that there is definitely a right and wrong way to celebrate at work. Here are my top dos and don’ts for the office holiday party: employee edition:


  • RSVP. From the perspective of a boss, it drives me nuts when I don’t know how many people to prepare for, how much alcohol to buy, how many mini-weiners to prepare, etc. So do your boss a solid and RSVP right away and stick to it, preferably within 24-48 hours. Believe me, your boss notices when you don’t and makes note of it. Seriously.
  • Arrive and LEAVE on time. We love you, but again, do your boss a solid and arrive when the invitation specifies and leave at an appropriate time. There is always clean-up after a party, so you want to leave before the cleaning crew arrives (or before your boss has to forcibly call you a cab).
  • Read the invitation. Is there a dress code? Are you expected to bring a white elephant gift? Does the event have more than one venue? Are you meeting at the docks? These are all details you could learn from actually reading the invite.
  • Dress appropriately. If the invitation specifies cocktail attire, don’t show up in your Christmas-themed jammies. If you are unsure, just ask! But above all, remember that this is still a work event, so avoid anything too tight, too controversial, too anything … if you look in the mirror and wonder if it’s appropriate, the answer is no, go change!
  • Mingle. Maybe you only like two people in the entire office (I get you). That doesn’t mean you should stand in a corner mocking everyone from a distance (I also get you). Make it a point to get out there and mingle a little with everyone, even if it’s just a boring comment about the venue or the best hors d’oeuvres.
  • Show up the next day. Do not, I repeat, do not, call in sick the next day unless you are actually sick. Don’t be that employee.


  • Drink too much. Free drinks! Whooo! Just because they are free, doesn’t mean you should take advantage or get so drunk you are Xeroxing copies of your butt. Save that for the movies (and save your job in the process).
  • Binge eat or pull out to-go containers. I have definitely been here! So much food goes to waste at these events, so why not sneak a bit of prime rib for tomorrow? I’m not going to stop you, but it’s uncouth. It just is. So is overloading your plate, taking all the puff pastry, and double dipping. Just saying. My advice? Eat a little something before the event so you aren’t a ravenous beast when the food table appears.
  • Treat the office party like a speed dating event. Office parties often include a plus-one scenario, but please refrain from turning a company event into your own personal dating pool. It will only lead to making people feel uncomfortable and sending the wrong message to your peers and superiors.
  • Gossip. It can be sooooo tempting to sit back with your work bestie and talk trash about Becky from Accounting, but refrain. You never know who is listening and who brought whom to the party. Keep it contained.
  • Bring uninvited guests. If this is a small, sit-down dinner, don’t bring your three friends (at least, not without express permission). If your event allows plus ones (see “Read the invitation” above) then feel free to bring someone, as long as you tell your boss in advance (see RSVP). A lot more planning goes into holiday events than you think and you don’t want to put your boss out or make your guest uncomfortable.
  • Forget your guest is an extension of you. Assuming your guest is welcomed to the event, don’t forget that they are a reflection of you. If your guest gets hammered and pukes in the koi pond, you bet your bottom dollar that’s going to come back on you.

An office party should be a chance to let loose a bit and acknowledge all you have accomplished (or survived) over the course of the year. Have fun … but not so much fun that you no longer have a job to celebrate.

Do you have any office party stories to share? Let us know!

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