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Published:December 3rd, 2009 12:03 EST
Top Ten Office Holiday Party Survival Tips - Party Etiquette

Top Ten Office Holiday Party Survival Tips - Party Etiquette

By Kate Zabriskie (Mentor/Consultant)

Every year hundreds of people across the world make bad decisions when office party time comes around.  Their antics are the backbone of corporate gossip and great for a lunch-room laugh.  But let`s face it: most of us want our reputations to be based on our work, not on December-induced party drama.

Surviving an office party is not as hard as it could be if you reset your expectations ahead of time.  What?  You heard me.  Work parties are still about work.  By following a few simple guidelines, you should be able to keep your reputation intact and still have a pretty good time.

1.       If alcohol is served, resist the urge to overindulge.  That piece of advice should be a no-brainer, but every year almost every office party has an attendee who forgets this rule.  Something else to watch out for is overindulging dates.  They may not work with the crowd they are tossing back tequila with, but you do.  Your date is a reflection of you.

2.       If Britney Spears would wear it, you probably shouldn`t.  Revealing clothes, snakes, etc. are best kept for purely social functions.  You`re still at work even if you are not technically in the office.  Your coworkers do not need to know about your affinity for reptiles.

3.       Unless you are already known as flamboyant or the creative one in the office, don`t view the office party as your opportunity to try a new hairstyle, fake fingernails (if you`ve never worn them), a new toupee, etc.  The goofy drugstore antlers that light up more than likely should also be left for another occasion.  In many an executive`s mind, strange party attire equals poor decision-making ability. 

4.       Be prepared to socialize, mingle, and talk about something other than work.  Read the paper the day of the party so you have at least a small clue about current events.   If you don`t know about geography, but world affairs do come up, don`t fake it.  You will get caught.  Just practice your listening skills and ask good questions.  Sooner or later the conversation will turn to something you do know about.

5.       Unless you are planning to audition for a part in the adult version of Mean Girls Two, don`t stay with the same five or six people all night.  It "s rude and just so totally seventh grade. "

6.       If someone is making small talk with you, throw him a bone and give more than a one-word answer.  Very few party experiences are more hateful than putting a good effort forth and getting nothing in return to the point that you might as well be talking to yourself " at least you`re engaging. 

7.       Keep your dancing PG.  If they`re doing it on MTV, or if it involves a lot of bottom shaking or writhing on the floor, and/or you find yourself grinding into your dance partner, your moves have crossed the line.

8.       If you are a big eater, practice your talent before leaving home.  Nobody likes a party pig.  And yes, people will notice if you stand by the shrimp and stuff your face as if it is your last meal.

9.       Leave with your date, not the cute woman from accounting who came with someone else.  If there really is a love connection (or lust connection), it will still be there on Monday when you can get your thoughts in order and consider being more discreet.

10.   Don`t be the last to leave " especially if you are a junior employee.  Good guests know when to go home. 

By following the above advice, you will avoid having to look at yourself in a mirror hung over in an apartment or hotel room you don`t recognize (or worse) and lamenting that you should`ve made better choices.  At that point it`s too late.  Your coworkers with cell phone cameras have already sent your pictures to other office mates and posted your antler-wearing mug on  And to top it off, your seventy-five-year-old, techno-savvy mother has probably stumbled across photos of your moment of disgrace as well.

Office Etiquette