Office parties are great, no? Hanging out with co-workers outside of working hours — the people you see 40 hours a week (or more!) and whom you see more than your closest friends, family members and possibly even more than your partner. Ah, spending a Saturday night in December munching mediocre food, making small talk to the creepy IT guy and rationing your drink tickets so they span the evening will be such fun!
If you detect a note of sarcasm in the previous paragraph it’s because many of us working girls (and boys) view the forced social aspect of the holiday party as an annoying intrusion into our party schedule — during the busiest time of year. And for many of us this little shindig may be the only "gift" management doles out and it raises the question "can’t you just give us the cash instead"?
For all the hoping and dreaming, the reality is the holiday office party will roll out this year like it does every year and if you’re a smart (although disgruntled) employee you’ll be there. No pain, no gain right? It applies to that ever-elusive flat tummy and especially to your career, so suck it up, don some extra shimmer and Vaseline a smile to our gums, it’s party time! Just keep in mind this is a business function and if you don’t want to run around apologizing to your boss and co-workers on Monday morning — or worse, have to look for a new job come January — there are a few do’s and don’ts you should follow.
1. Do attend the party. You may not want to go but if you care about your career and looking like a team player your presence needs to be felt, if only for a short time. Stay for at least 30 minutes or until dessert is served.
2. Don’t drink too much. That’s just common sense you say? We’ve all seen
that girl at the party, all wobbly-footed and flirting with the cute married guy from sales. It could easily be you if you down your first couple of drinks too quickly. Pace yourself by having a non-alcoholic bevy after every hard one.
3. Be positive and upbeat. Talking smack about the boss or your coworkers only makes you look like bad. And you look so good in your flouncy Proenza Schouler blouse.
4. Make a pact with your closest coworker to look after each other. A "sister" can save you from yourself or others and step if you start going cross-eyed or are stuck in the corner chatting to that slimy accounting guy. It’ll also give you a job and keep you from sitting alone at your table chugging chardonnay.
5. Don’t talk business all night. While you may have little in common with these people being labeled the office bore is not a title you should be angling for.
Image by Leda & St. Jacques
6. Mix and mingle. If you have to be there you might as well further your career. Take this as the opportunity to schmooze with management and impress the higher-ups with your charm, intellect and kick-ass style.
7. Talking about style…wear something appropriate. Don’t let the "girls" hang out and please wear underwear. The young Hollywood jet-set can get away with going commando, you can’t.
8. Don’t be the last party girl on the dance floor. When the crowd begins to thin take that as your cue to go as well. If you’re there until the end chances are you drank too much and you’re going to get yourself into trouble — if you haven’t already.
9. If you follow the rules you’ll be fine, but there’s always the girl that didn’t follow the rules and is now making out on the dance floor with the short pigeon-toed fellow from the mail room. Help get her out of there. It’ll be your seasonal do-something-good-for-humanity contribution.
10. Send a note or a thank-you email to the people who planned the event. A little polite sucking up never hurt anyone. This is not revolutionary advice and the rules aren’t difficult to follow but inevitably that girl will rear here wobbly head at your office party this year. She seems to show up every year — and at every party. She probably always will. I guess she didn’t get the memo.
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Ryan Jennings knows of what he writes — and the pitfalls of over-consumption. He’s one helluva bartender and the author of Entertaining with Booze (Whitecap Books, 2008). Visit www.cookingwithbooze.com for more ways to navigate this holiday season.
Image by Leda & St. Jacques