Most times when we are posting on this blog, we are directing our comments to employers.  This holiday season we thought we might speak directly with employees in an attempt to limit the number of calls we get in the next week or so from HR folks regaling us with tales of bad behavior at holiday parties.

So, you want to make sure you don’t damage your career, or worse, get fired at the office holiday party?  In the spirt of the 12 days of Christmas, we have come up with 12 rules for employees attending office holiday parties. Follow these simple guidelines and you should be fine.


1. Pace yourself — just because there is an open bar, does not mean you need to try to see just how much of that open bar you can consume.

2. Remember, this is a work event, not a party — I know the title Holiday Party is misleading, but you should think of this as a work obligation, not your friend’s party.  If it were your friend’s party, then you might be forgiven for breaking a crystal vase in your exuberance demonstrating your air guitar skills to AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.”  Save those skills for the Air Guitar World Championships.

3. You are not at a club — See above re: work obligation.  Ladies, grinding on your female friend to get the attention of the guy at the bar may be successful at a club but is not appropriate at your office holiday party.

4. Dress appropriately — See #s 2 and 3 above.  It is great if you want break out of your boring business casual or professional attire and dress in festive attire for the party.  If any part of your outfit could be described as “too,” i.e., too short, too tight, too low-cut, or simply too much, then you should rethink that festive attire.

5. Attend — Someone or some people in your office spent a good amount of time planning this event.  In addition, the powers that be have dug into their pockets to pay for the event.  If you cannot be bothered to attend (absent a good reason), you are telling the powers that be that you do not care about your company or your job.

6. Talk to people — We’re not saying talk to the 5 people you always talk to in the office.  Expand your circle.  Call it brown-nosing, call it playing politics, call it simply being polite.  Whatever you call it, it cannot hurt to say hello and a few nice words to someone that you would like to work with more or to one of the bosses who is considering you for a promotion.

7. Do not talk solely about work — It is one thing to say something quick to a co-worker you have been meaning to catch up on a project, it is another to spend an hour picking your colleague’s brain about that project.  Although not your friend’s party (see #2), this still should be a fun event.  You don’t want to force your co-workers to work during the event.

8. No talking politics or religion — This is a good rule of thumb to follow year round as it often leads to arguments or people being offended.  Individuals’ politics and religion are intensely personal.  To be blunt, no one actually cares what you think about their beliefs.

9. Do not criticize the party while at the party — see #5 above. 

10. Zip it  — Ala Austin Powers, no one likes to be interrupted.  Especially your CEO who is trying to give a holiday toast.  Keep your snide comments to yourself. 

11. Keep it zipped — We’re not talking about your mouths on this one.  For that matter, keep it buttoned.

12.  Kumbaya If you don’t know what kumbaya means, you can see the definition on Urban Dictionary.  In short, it means, at least for today while you are at the party, everything is peachy.  This is not the time to complain loudly over the DJ’s music about your boss.  Save that for Monday.

Happy Holidays!