8 Office Holiday Party Fails

Dec 18, 2015
6 Min Read

Every few years, I write an article related to surviving – and even succeeding – at the office holiday party.  But this time around, I’d like to share a few subtle mistakes people tend to make at both formal and informal bashes. Hopefully I’ve given you enough notice to avoid these!

Not knowing your tolerance

Most people understand that they shouldn’t drink too much at business functions. Unfortunately, some overestimate how much alcohol they can consume before their judgment and attitude are impaired. Remember that you aren’t in college anymore, so one or two glasses of wine will probably do the trick.

Bringing a guest when they weren’t invited

If a party is formal (e.g. your organization rented a restaurant), chances are the cost is pretty steep per head. Do not compromise your reputation by showing up with a friend or significant other when a party is supposed to be employees only. Not sure? Check with HR before heading out.

Being the first to get there

Sprinting out of the office so you can be the first one at the event might send several negative messages, including that you aren’t that busy at work, or that you can’t wait to get to the booze. Aim to arrive at least a half hour after the official party start and you’re sure to be in good company.

Being the last to leave

You also don’t want to be a straggler. Nearly all office holiday party scandals occur in the waning hours of the event (or after hours), so depart before you’re one of only a handful of people left and trouble ensues.

Monopolizing the boss’ attention

Office holiday parties are always a terrific opportunity to rub shoulders with the higher-ups in a friendly setting.  However, you should recognize that executives want to network and have fun too, so don’t stick to any one person like glue. No matter how great you think the conversation is going, they will eventually be looking to unload you.

Dancing too close with a co-worker

If your party has an amazing DJ and a fun-loving crowd, feel free to let loose on the dance floor. But this is still a work function, so watch those moves.  You don’t want someone to accuse you of twerking or anything that could be remotely considered sexual harassment. 

Eating too much

It can be admittedly hard to control yourself in the presence of a delicious and plentiful spread. No one wants to hang out with a glutton, though, so be cognizant of your portions. Limit the amount of food on a single plate, eat slowly and remember those table manners. 

Talking during the bigwig speeches

During most office holiday shindigs, there’s the moment when the highest-ranked attendee makes a little speech or toast about the successful year. Show your respect by listening attentively.  Don’t utter any sarcastic remarks under your breath, and don’t provide a running commentary to the person standing next to you. Someone is bound to notice this, and you won’t look good.

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