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Be Merry (but Not That Merry): A Guide to Office Holiday Parties

By Daniel B. Kline – Updated Nov 5, 2018 at 4:07PM

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You want to have fun without becoming the person people talk about for the wrong reasons.

Most companies (93%) plan to have some sort of year-end festivities this year according to a survey of more than 2,800 senior managers from OfficeTeam. Those parties will be equally split between parties taking place at the office and parties at off-site locations. The survey showed that 41% of companies plan to spend more on their parties this year, while only 7% expect to spend less. And whether the event is fancy or informal, you're probably expected to be there: 66% of managers surveyed said there's an "unwritten rule" that employees should attend.

"Hosting holiday parties is a great way to recognize employees for their hard work throughout the year," said Stephanie Naznitsky, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Celebrations don't have to be elaborate to be enjoyable. Companies that go the extra mile to plan meaningful events that bring teams together will be rewarded with higher engagement." 

People celebrate in an office wearing Santa hats.

Be careful when it comes to drinking at an office party. Image source: Getty Images.

Attend, but be careful

Holiday parties are a chance to relax with coworkers and celebrate another year gone by. It's an opportunity to thank your bosses, the people you work with, and anyone else you might otherwise not get a chance to celebrate with.

There are limits, however. If you're in a situation where alcohol is served, it's OK to have a drink or two -- but keep it well within your normal tolerance. You don't want to be the person with a lampshade on his head, the guy doing an unflattering imitation of the boss, or the lady who passes out in the punch bowl. You want to leave the party with people feeling warmly about you, not laughing at what a fool you made of yourself.

Have a plan

Holiday parties aren't all about having fun. They're also a time to connect with coworkers and share moments as you reflect back on the year.

Make sure you go in with a plan as to who you absolutely want to connect with. If there's a colleague who made your year better or a boss who did something wonderful for you, make sure to seek them out so you can have a moment.

Look the part

In-office parties tend to have the same dress code as a normal day at work (perhaps with a festive touch). If you're offsite or people plan to change for an in-office party, make sure you have appropriate attire. Don't be the person wearing jeans to a formal affair and, while it may not be as bad, don't wear a tuxedo or a ball gown to something casual.

Have fun

It should not be that hard to attend a holiday party, have a good time, and not be the story everyone talks about. Enjoy yourself and have fun with your coworkers. Just remember that a work party is not your friends letting loose -- it's still a professional setting, and you should act accordingly.

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