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Holiday Office Party Survival Guide

 I don’t know about you, but for me the holiday office party ranks just above my annual checkup check·up
1. An examination or inspection.

2. A general physical examination.

checkup See Yearly checkup.
 on the fun-o-meter. Every year, I tell myself I won’t get stressed over it; that I’ll show up, have a good time and go home with my career intact. And then the date rolls around and I start seriously considering faking the flu and staying home. It’s not that I don’t like the people I work with. I do. And it’s not that I’m some sort of wallflower wallflower, Mediterranean perennial (Cheiranthus cheiri) of the family Cruciferae (mustard family), particularly popular in Europe, where it flourishes on old walls.  at parties, either.  It all comes down to two things: 1) the small agony of figuring out something to wear to work that day that will let me make a successful transition to the after work festivities fes·tiv·i·ty  
n. pl. fes·tiv·i·ties
1. A joyous feast, holiday, or celebration; a festival.

2. The pleasure, joy, and gaiety of a festival or celebration.

, and 2) navigating the minefield of office party etiquette.

But, while I’m not looking forward to this year’s event any more than I have in the past, as a seasoned office party veteran, I’ll offer a few tips on both subjects that might help you survive yours.

The wardrobe challenge

In the fashion sense, “office party” is an oxymoron. On one hand, you don’t want to sit in front of the computer all day in a strappy little cocktail dress with Larry the Loser leering leer  
intr.v. leered, leer·ing, leers
To look with a sidelong glance, indicative especially of sexual desire or sly and malicious intent.

A desirous, sly, or knowing look.
 at you from the next cubicle. On the other hand, you don’t want wear your everyday sweater and slacks while sipping champagne with the boss. When there’s no time to change between firing off your last e-mail and grazing grazing,
n See irregular feeding.


1. actions of herbivorous animals eating growing pasture or cereal crop.

2. area of pasture or cereal crop to be used as standing feed. See also pasture.
 the buffet, you need to get creative. 

Start with the basics. Wear a black skirt or black pants with the dressiest pumps you can get away with. Add a solid-colored blouse or a cowl- or v-neck sweater. Another option would be to go with a dark camisole camisole /cam·i·sole/ (kam´i-sol) [Fr.] straitjacket; a jacketlike device for restraining the limbs, particularly the arms, of a violently disturbed patient.  underneath a tailored jacket. Any of this should be professional enough for the office while providing a platform for some glamorous embellishments.

That’s where your accessories come in. Choose the right ones and you’ll turn up the volume on your entire ensemble. A chic shawl or silk scarf can add a splash of color not of the white race; - commonly meaning, esp. in the United States, of negro blood, pure or mixed.

See also: Color
. Carry a glitzy glitz   Informal
Ostentatious showiness; flashiness: "a garish barrage of show-biz glitz" Peter G. Davis.

 little clutch, pop on a pair of elegant drop earrings, fix your hair, tune up your makeup and you’re ready to party. Remember, “this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.” You want to strike a balance between a corporate look and va-va-voom. When in doubt, always err on the conservative side.   

Playing by the rules

Now that you’re ready to face the happy throng, here are ten rules of proper office party etiquette. 

1)    Show up. Skip the company party at your peril. This is a team event. Your presence is required and your absence will be noticed. Besides, you don’t want to give anyone a perfect opportunity to talk behind your back.

2)    Eat something. Grab a snack before you get there if you can. If not, have something from the buffet when you arrive. Avoid messy foods that you might end up wearing. Salty and greasy hors d’oeuvres will make you thirsty and tempt you toward the bar.

3)    Watch what you drink. More careers have shipwrecked on this protocol reef than any other. Sail six sheets to the wind in Vegas or a cozy Dublin pub, but keep your wits about you at the office party. Never have more than two, or stick to gin and tonics minus the gin. Who’s going to know? Hold your glass in your left hand so it won’t be cold and clammy clam·my  
adj. clam·mi·er, clam·mi·est
1. Disagreeably moist, sticky, and cold to the touch: a clammy handshake.

2. Damp and unpleasant: clammy weather.
 for the next grip and grin.

4)    Mingle. While it might be more fun to just hang out with your closest work buddies, you’re better off working the room. Circulating makes your presence known and makes the best impression. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know from other departments.

5)    Try to get some face time with management. Chat with your boss (or even your boss’s boss). Keep it light, friendly and brief (you never want to monopolize mo·nop·o·lize  
tr.v. mo·nop·o·lized, mo·nop·o·liz·ing, mo·nop·o·liz·es
1. To acquire or maintain a monopoly of.

2. To dominate by excluding others: monopolized the conversation.
 their attention). Small talk is smart talk in these cases.

6)    Talk to significant others. Being a guest at someone else’s office party is usually just slightly less entertaining than standing in line at the DMV DMV
Department of Motor Vehicles
. Rescue as many friends and spouses from social oblivion as you can.

 7)    Don’t talk shop. A work party isn’t the place to give the monthly business review or discuss office politics. At the worst, people will think you’re sucking up. At best, they’ll think you’re a bore.

8)    Don’t gossip. Leave the bitch sessions and lurid details about your co-workers for the coffee room chatter the next day. (Someone who ignores these rules will inevitably provide ample conversational fuel.) You don’t want to give the impression of being the company rumormonger ru·mor·mon·ger  
One who spreads rumors.

intr.v. ru·mor·mon·gered, ru·mor·mon·ger·ing, ru·mor·mon·gers
To engage in the spreading of rumors.

Noun 1.

9)    No flirting. No matter how much you’ve had your eye on that new guy in sales, this is the worst possible occasion to kindle A portable e-book device from that provides wireless connectivity to Amazon for e-book downloads as well as Wikipedia and search engines. Using Sprint's EV-DO cellphone network, dubbed WhisperNet, wireless access is free. It also includes a built-in dictionary.  an office romance An office romance, work romance, or corporate affair is a romance that occurs between two people who work together in the same office, work location, or business. It tends to breach nonfraternization policies and is a foreseeable business expense. . Leave that to the people who break rule #3 and become Topic A in rule #8. What happens at the office party never stays at the office party.

10) Don’t be the last to leave. If you’re like me, this one’s easy. If the invitation says 6 pm – 8 pm, don’t leave a minute after 8. Get there on time, make the rounds, stay at least an hour and as you make your exit, remember to thank your hosts for a wonderful evening (even if you’d preferred to have  extensive dental surgery). 

Following these simple guidelines may not win you a promotion and accolades from your co-workers, but you’re guaranteed to be able to go into work the next day with a clear conscience and the comforting thought that you have an entire year to go before the next one.

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Author:Shannon McCarthy, Style Editor, MSN Shopping
Publication:MSN Shopping
Date:Jun 28, 2007
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