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Office holiday parties can be fun, but they can also be more dangerous than an icy sidewalk. The relaxed atmosphere and often-unlimited spirits can lead to anything from embarrassing slip-ups to career-compromising blunders.

With this in mind, it’s important to brush up on your manners and use your best behavior at these company-sponsored events. You want to maximize your professional image and minimize the chance you will commit a faux pas that could tarnish your reputation and undermine a whole year’s worth of great effort.

In addition, how you interact with others at these events gives senior management a chance to determine how you represent the company with clients and potential customers.

8 Ways To Present Yourself Professionally

Here are eight holiday party etiquette tips to help  you Fa-la-la-la-la with your coworkers and still present yourself in a professional manner.

RSVP—an acronym for those little French words that mean “Respond If You Please.” Whether the invitation was group emailed or snail-mailed, it’s important to respond within 24- 48 hours. This helps your host know how many batches of artichoke dip to order. If you commit to attending, be there. Don’t commit and then not show up.

Make an appearance. Attendance at office holiday parties may be optional, but do plan to go if you can. It shows respect and loyalty to your company and lets your boss and other higher ups know that that you appreciate their efforts. Plan to stay for at least an hour or two, and don’t be the last to leave.

Brief your guest. If it’s appropriate to take a guest—the invitation will say so—then brief him or her about others they may meet at the party. This helps guests feel more comfortable if they are prepped about a few of your coworkers with whom they may enjoy getting to know. Remember, too, that the conduct of your guest is a reflection on you.

Dress for the occasion.  It’s still a work event. So, if the invitation says business attire, don’t show up in cocktail clothes. If it states “festive,” then bring out the sparkles, sequins, and seasonal tie—but use discretion and leave the revealing outfits at home.

Mingle all the way. Holiday parties are a great way to meet those from other departments. Greet your peers, but try to introduce yourself to at least two new people by saying your first and last name and your department name. Be sure to introduce your guest or spouse, as well.

Bone up on your small talk skills. It helps break the ice and puts others at ease. Ask others about their holiday or travel plans…and keep the event social and civil by trying not to talk “shop,” politics or office gossip.

Eat and drink with moderation. Nothing says unprofessional like imbibing too much or piling your hors d’oeuvre plate like it’s your last meal. Eat a little something before you go so you don’t appear too hungry and switch to something non-alcoholic after one or two drinks.

Show appreciation. Before you leave, locate your hosts, thank them, and say goodbye. To stand out, even more, send a handwritten thank you note the next day.

Interested In Learning More?

Your good manners and social graces will help you give a positive impression on everyone there—and you can ring in the New Year with no regrets. If you are interested in any of my business or etiquette seminars please contact me or call me at 918.970.4400!