Whether you work for a larger company or a smaller one, there's a good chance your employer is planning some type of shindig during the holiday season. That party could entail a gathering with food and drinks at a restaurant, or it could mean cramming into your office's largest conference room to eat, drink, and be merry.

But while company holiday parties should be fun in theory, new data from Monster.com reveals that 60% of workers aren't looking forward to them at all. But not attending that gathering can have unfortunate repercussions. Unless you have a valid excuse, like being a parent without child care, your employer might regard your absence as a slap in the face. And that, in turn, could affect your ability to land a raise, get promoted, or generally enjoy a good experience at the office.

Group of adults in Santa hats clinking glasses


Since you most likely have to attend your company holiday party whether you want to or not, here are some tips for getting through the night -- and preserving your reputation at work in the process.

1. Don't drink too much

Indulging in too much alcohol in front of your manager and colleagues is a giant recipe for disaster. Once your inhibitions are lowered, things might slip out of your mouth that should really be kept under wraps, like your distaste for your boss's micromanaging habits or your frustration with Sally in Accounting who never seems to get her numbers right. Not only will drinking too much make you seem unprofessional, but it could compromise your relationships with the people you work with on a long-term basis. Therefore, limit yourself to a drink or two, and make sure you know what it is you're drinking. A cocktail loaded with vodka will pack a much more powerful punch than a glass of wine.

2. Buddy up with a colleague who's on the same page

Chances are, you have at least one co-worker who's also dreading that company holiday party. Teaming up with that person could help make the night better for both you. Essentially, all you really need to do is agree to stick together so you each have someone to talk to, but also, have a code word you can use to bail each other out of an awkward conversation with someone else. For example, if John in Operations goes off on a 20-minute tirade about office supply availability, you can use your code word to let your party buddy know that he or she must interrupt with an important question about an ongoing project -- and whisk you away to discuss it.

3. Leave on the earlier side

Though you may be obligated to attend your company's holiday party, that doesn't mean you must force yourself to stay till the very end. This especially holds true if you have an easy excuse for bailing out early, like a child at home who's waiting on you for a bedtime story or a dog who desperately needs to be walked. That said, you don't want to leave too early. If the party is at a restaurant, don't take off before the main course is served. But you can exit gracefully just before dessert.

Like it or not, company holiday parties are a job-related obligation you can't avoid. The good news? They only happen once a year, so once you get through that single night, you won't have to do it again until the following December.