November 19, 2021

Professional Partying: A Guide to Office Party Etiquette This Holiday Season

By: Eileen Messana, VP of Operations

For many companies, the 2021 holiday season marks the return of office holiday parties after over a year of social distancing. According to Tripleseat, 66 percent of employers will be holding a holiday celebration this year, and 84 percent of those events will be in person. The workforce is eager to interact socially once again, and office parties are a great way to reward the hard work of employees with good food and good conversation.

While these parties are a great way to strengthen culture and build personal connections with peers, it’s important to keep in mind some best practices to avoid regretful behavior or uncomfortable situations with your coworkers.

Below are some answers to common party etiquette questions that will ensure you get the most out of your holiday celebration while maintaining a positive reputation and healthy professional relationships.

Should I Attend My Office Holiday Party?

This is a common question for executives, especially those that prefer to keep their personal life and professional life separate. While that is a good rule to abide by in most situations, attendance at holiday parties shows that you are committed to your organization and fostering a positive culture.

Interacting with your colleagues in a social setting can create stronger bonds amongst teams. For managers, holiday parties often present opportunities to humanize yourself to those you manage, making them more comfortable with approaching you in the workplace for advice or help.

Of course, given the ongoing pandemic, if you are feeling uncomfortable about group gatherings, don’t hesitate to raise your concerns to your leaders. There may be opportunities to engage you virtually or adjust the structure of the celebration to accommodate those with reservations.

What Should the Party Include?

Office holiday parties should be focused mostly on “downtime” as a show of appreciation for employees’ hard work, but it is always nice to incorporate a recognition of corporate wins to mark the end of the year.

This can include bonus announcements, sharing final earnings projections, and award presentations. These announcements will boost morale heading into the new year and give your team an extra reason to celebrate.

Another fun idea to promote personal connection between your employees is to incorporate a gift exchange. White Elephant and Secret Santa exchanges are typically well-received and serve as an icebreaker for employees that may not interact on a day-to-day basis.

How Should I Carry Myself?

The three cardinal rules for office party etiquette that will ensure you won’t harbor any regrets include:

1. Don’t drink too much: We all have a good idea of our tolerance. A casual drink or two is completely appropriate for an office party setting, but if you feel yourself approaching your threshold, put the drink down. One glass of water per alcoholic beverage is usually a good idea.

2. Dress appropriately: While most holiday parties are casual celebrations, you should still wear a work appropriate outfit. If you wouldn’t wear it to a meeting, don’t wear it to the holiday party.

3. Remember that these are your coworkers: Drinks are flowing, music is playing, and it’s easy to forget that you’re surrounded by your colleagues, managers, and corporate leadership. While sharing a glimpse into your personal life is what these events are all about, keep your conversations clean and appropriate. The people you are conversating with are people that you want to respect you and trust you in professional settings. Don’t give them a reason not to!

 Office holiday parties are an important annual opportunity to get to know our colleagues and peers on a personal level while celebrating the successes of our hard work over the past year. By following the above best practices, you can ensure that your 2021 office holiday party is memorable for all the right reasons.

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