Dreading the office holiday party? You’re not alone. In one study, 47% of participants were excited to attend the annual holiday party — meaning, of course, that 53% were not.
And let’s face it, some office parties are more fun than others. A lot depends on the company culture. Plus, some people enjoy attending these kinds of gatherings, while others really don’t. But, no matter where you and your company fall along this spectrum, it pays to think beyond the goal of simply enjoying yourself when it comes to these gatherings. There’s a lot more positive potential in these events than is immediately obvious.
This year, aim to do more than just have fun at your company’s holiday party. Vow to maximize the experience to benefit your career.
Office holiday party tips:
1. Dress appropriately
Organizations have their own cultural norms. It’s a good idea to consider the event you’re heading into ahead of time and think about what you’re going to wear. If you’re new to the company, ask about dress for the holiday party ahead of time. And, be sure to comply with the advice you’re given. Some gatherings are definitely more casual than others.
You’ll feel more comfortable, and therefore more able to be at your best, if you feel as though you’re dressed appropriately. And, you’ll be sending the message to others, too.
2. Stay off of your phone
This probably isn’t the first time that you’ve been given the advice to stay off of your phone, or at least cut back on your usage. Limiting screen time can go a long way toward helping you to be more productive and more content. And, you’ll probably sleep better and be healthier as well. However, while this advice is sound as a general rule, there are some times when it’s extra important to stay off of your phone. And, your company’s holiday party is one of those times.
Nothing interrupts a conversation as abruptly as someone taking out their phone. It can be tempting to sneak a quick peek while you’re standing and talking with a small group, for example. It might feel as though there’s no harm if you aren’t directly involved in the conversation at hand in that moment. But, taking out your phone separates you even further from the thick of the action. Remember, listening is essential to good conversation. So, save the phone checking for the parking lot or the coat room.
Also, keep in mind that staying off of your phone doesn’t just mean avoiding taking phone calls or composing and sending lengthy emails. Even just “sending a quick text” is disruptive. And, so is scrolling through your photos to find the picture of that thing that just came up in conversation. Think about it this way. Do you want to continue talking to someone when they start to do that?
Staying off of your phone is essential if you really want to maximize the positive potential of your holiday party this year.
3. Change it up
It might be tempting to primarily, or even exclusively, hang out with your work friends during your office holiday party. After all, it’s been a long year, you’re exhausted, and it would be nice to kick back and have some laughs with your pals. But, here’s the thing. You can do that anytime. At least, it’s best not to spend the whole holiday party with folks that you regularly hang out with outside of work. Instead, plan to have fun with your crew the following weekend. That way you can spend your holiday party time talking with people who you don’t usually socialize with outside of the office.
Your work party provides the opportunity to forge new and deeper connections with colleagues. Maybe talk with a manager who you get along with but who’s often too busy to really get to know. Or, spend some time chatting up a new coworker who you haven’t had the chance to interact with much just yet.
Forging new relationships at your office holiday party helps you to broaden your relationships and expand your professional network. And that could come in quite handy in the future.
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4. Have fun (but You Know, not too much fun)
You should enjoy your holiday party. By all means, plan to have a good time. Remember, when you’re having fun others will too. If you enjoy the party you’ll be encouraging others, by your example, to do the same. And, that’s a great thing. However, you don’t want to do or say anything that you’ll regret come Monday morning. So, be sure to keep your wits about you.
Plan to keep your drinking to a minimum. If you enjoy a cocktail, it’s probably all right to have one. At least, 70% of HR professionals said it’s acceptable to drink at a work holiday party. However, you don’t want to take it too far. So, decide beforehand how many drinks you’ll have, and then stick to your limit. One or two is probably best. You’ll also want to consider your company’s culture around drinking when planning your approach.
5. Talk business (but not too much)
It’s only natural to want to talk shop with the people you work with. And, there’s nothing wrong with doing that at the holiday party. There are just a few tips related to this that you should keep in mind:
- Now is not the time for heavy lifting. You shouldn’t bring up new challenges or problems for the first time during this occasion. And, you also shouldn’t expect to solve any either. Keep in causal.
- Do feel free to show and share your enthusiasm for the business, and your work, with others during this time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with demonstrating some sincere excitement about what you do.
- Be sure to talk about subjects aside from business, too. Holiday parties are rare opportunities to connect with people from work about other things. So, maximize this occasion. Talk about common interests or experiences when possible. Share information that helps others get to know more about you, and your background and hobbies. Just be sure to keep it professional.
6. Consider going it alone
Be careful about who you bring as a date to your company’s holiday party, if you really want to maximize the potential of the occasion. If you’ve been dating someone for just a few months, this might not be the right event to debut your new relationship. Even if you know your partner well, and you know they’ll be act appropriately, you still might want to consider flying solo.
Bringing a date serves as something of a social buffer. That’s a good thing, in some ways. You may feel more comfortable. It might even help you to have a better time. But, in other ways, it’s really not in your best interest. If you’re there alone, you’ll have to socialize with work people. You won’t be able to spend an hour tucked in a corner with your spouse. Instead, you’ll move around and make conversation. Also, going it alone means you don’t have to worry about anyone else’s comfort during the event. You can just focus on the party.
7. Take special care if you’re an introvert
Not everyone looks forward to their work holiday parties. This kind of experience can be especially challenging for introverts, for example, who aren’t usually their best selves in unpredictable social situations. So, if you consider yourself an introvert, or even if you just have introverted tendencies when it comes to parties, you’ll want to take special care as you prepare for this event.
Introverts need time alone to recharge their energy. So, be sure to schedule some downtime both before and after the holiday party. Also, consider limiting the time you stay at the gathering. If you can have fun and be comfortable for a couple of hours but then need to excuse yourself, go ahead and do that. It’s better to maximize the time you’re there than suffer through the whole thing. Also, try to connect one-to-one at the party. You might not belly up to the bar for a shot with that rowdy gang. But, you can enjoy a quiet conversation with someone you’d like to get to know better. Finally, plan to ask a lot of questions. Introverts are often great listeners, so be sure to play to that strength.
8. Don’t forget about Monday morning
One of the best ways to maximize your holiday party experience is just simply to avoid taking actions that you’ll regret later.
Hopefully, you’ll have a good time at your office holiday party. If all goes well, you’ll have some laughs, eat some delicious food, and have some great conversations. Just always keep one eye on Monday morning. In other words, don’t lose yourself so much in the fun and flow of the night that you lose touch with your better judgement. Keep it professional, in your words, actions, and interactions with others. You don’t want to be a part of what everyone is talking about when you all get back to the office next week. So, always remember that’s where you’re all heading and make good decisions.
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