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The Company HO HO HOliday Party: How to Stay Off the Naughty List

Ah yes, the holiday party. For some, its one of the perks of the job, for others, about as painful as a root canal. No matter what your feelings about this once-a-year shindig schedule, we have the scoop to help you navigate these holiday minefields with grace, poise, and dignity; you may even come out of them one step ahead up the career ladder!

Here are some of the essential Dos and Don’ts of the annual office Christmas Party that will determine whether you come out of it all on Santa’s naughty or nice list:

THE NICE LIST (ie. the ‘DOs’)

  1. If there is a scheduled office party… go! Respect that your employer has invested time, money, and energy in hosting this gathering. It can provide you with good exposure, networking opportunities, and visibility if you attend.
  2. Arrive on time or, better yet, 10 minutes early. The least stressful time to make yourself known to your senior staff is before festivities get in full swing. Remember these folks make the key decisions about your future. Be smart and don’t monopolize them.  Maturity is the watchword. Also, early on is when the big brass make some decisions on whom they will potentially socialize with later on during the party.
  3. Remember that everyone is a subordinate to someone at an office gathering. The reality is that this is a business gathering. Someone is always watching you and noticing your behaviour.
  4. Do go out of your way to meet new people but don’t talk straight business. This is a chance for you to grow your network, to meet people you may not always work with, and to find out about peoples lives and interests outside of work.
  5. Keep a level-headed approach. Look at the party as an opportunity to develop and increase socio-office networks to further streamline and improve workplace relations across all levels of the organization.
  6. Consider the company newsletter. Be totally aware of ALL pictures being taken. We cannot emphasize this point enough: you don’t want to be captured in a compromised position, be munching on a chicken wings, doing the lowest of the limbos, or have two cocktail glasses in your hand. Be aware, because those pics WILL live long after the company newsletter meets the web. Keep your head up and prepare for a calm and collected pose.
  7. Remember that the holiday party event can often be a toss-up of who will prove to be the biggest jackass this year. Don’t let it be you!

The NAUGHTY LIST (or the absolutely, positively DO-NOTs!)

  1. DO NOT OVERINDULGE! This may seem like a no-brainer, and yet there are enough pictures floating around the internet the prove that every year, people do not heed this warning. Overdoing it with the alcohol can make you the subject of office gossip, the target or ridicule, and, yes, can even lead to your termination from your job. Alcohol loosens sexual inhibitions and can lead to inappropriate sexual interactions that can get you in A LOT of trouble.
  2. PLEASE leave the kooky reindeer sweater with the blinking nose or the Santa Baby outfit at home. It will be remembered, but most likely not in a good way.
  3. Don’t avoid other holiday parties. Your spouse, significant other, or friend may need an escort. Use that opportunity to network as well (just remember that your behavior reflects on your date!)
  4. This is not the place for flirting! Never troll for affection at the company event—it erodes reputation, can damage your work relationships, and hurt your career. If you need two words to cool your jets, consider these: sexual harassment.
  5. Holiday party hook-ups are NEVER a good idea. Too much fun, too much booze, too much skin, and too many loose tongues can leave you the next day with a hangover, a tarnished reputation, and possibly even a job on the line. You don’t want to become fodder for office gossip (made worse if you’ve temporarily forgotten you’re married), so if you’re crushing on somebody, don’t use the holiday party as your excuse to make a move. The function is, at its core, a business gathering. Hook up with your desired hottie another time.


WHAT SANTA DOESN’T KNOW CAN’T HURT YOU

If you just can’t resist the urge to make merry with your office-mates, it is often suggested that the best alternative is a Happy Hour. It should be organized by someone in the office, with an offering of inclusion to all, thus making it fully optional and non-obligatory. This kind of dutch treat, buy-your-own-booze event means that you are self liable. But remember, you are still with your co-workers, so know what is still at stake. From flirting to fornication, you could still end up on Santa’s Naughty List.

The holiday office party IS your chance to remind your boss and co-workers why you were hired, not what jobs you’re suited for after hours…and after a few drinks. You want to leave with your dignity and attire in tact, not with people recommending you for AA.

Always remember this piece of HR wisdom courtesy of Claire Knowles of Lights On! A Reflective Journey: “The special person you are going home with after the office party…should probably be ONLY your cab driver!”

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Fiona Fine

Fiona Fine is an Author, Speaker and the Editor-In-Chief of “Women Who Run It: Your Life – Your Love – Your Terms”, an in-box magazine that advocates for and empowers strong successful women around the world; women who are used to running the show at a high level and know how tough and often isolated it can be as a top professional juggling career, relationships, family, health & fitness, and community, while still finding personal time. After a long, unfulfilling and unsatisfying relationship and years in the traditional male world of engineering, IT and corporate recruiting, she decided to put the pleasure back into her existence and to start living life more on her own terms. Now she advocates for women (like her) who wonder how to keep it all from unravelling but still have a harmonized life of love, work, passion and …fun! She is the founder of Goddess Connections (Where Women Create Their Footprint in the World). She is also growing a movement: “How To Put The Fun Back Into Dating” to help women who are at the end of their dating rope to reignite the excitement and fun and create amazing love lives. You can find her at www.goddessconnections.com, www.fionafine. com or on www.facebook.com/fionafine