3 Rules for Wowing Your Holiday Office Party

Ah, the holiday office party! For many adults it fills the function once held by Sweet Sixteen festivities or bar/bat mitvahs: an anticipated occasion fraught with both dread and anticipation.

How can you ensure you emerge by the water cooler the next morning triumphant, rather than despairing? By keeping in mind the following three simple rules:

1. Don’t drink. 

I know many of you are trying to find a loophole in the this one—perhaps thinking, “She means ‘only drink white wine’ or ‘She means, ‘alternate every mixed drink with water.”

This is not, in fact, so. I’m saying don’t drink. Period. Full Stop.

Why do I feel so strongly about this? Because I want you to start thinking of the office party as what it is: it’s the office in a different location. Given this, it’s likely the same players will be there who are in your office day-to-day– the eagle-eyed higher ups, the passive-aggressive break-room congregants, the favor-currying upstarts. All of who are likely to be sipping fizzy water with one hand, while mentally crossing the fingers of the other—hoping against hope that somebody in the crowd does have a couple of knocks and take to the dance floor with a lampshade on their head, having checked their inhibitions in the coat room.

FYI: You don’t want this to be you. You ensure this by not drinking.

2. Observe the Not-Too Rule

For reasons beyond the scope of this article, I’ve noticed many people use the office party as a chance to ‘bring sexy back’—to let their co-workers know they have a daring, devil-may-care side. This is often expressed by showing up in blouses, camisoles, and tank tops that leave little to the imaginations of others; slapping on some cologne and unbuttoning a few extra buttons on their dress shirt; sporting skirts that could double as belts; or neglecting a belt where one is needed.  The Not—Too Rule, however, decrees: not too much cleavage, not too much chest hair, not too much leg, not too much perfume/cologne– and absolutely no visible thongs whatsoever. 

3. Have fun

I understand that, having read points one and two this might come as a surprising rule. It’s possible that you’ve come to think of me as a killjoy. I’m not. I think it’s critically important to have fun at your holiday party—not just for the benefit of those around you, but for you.

Making a conscious choice to enjoy yourself—whether by getting to know people you know better, or by getting to know people you don’t yet know—will allow you to move through your coming work weeks, months, and years with a better understanding of the motivations and intentions, obstacles and strengths of those around you. You will now know who the go-to person is in invoicing, who needs extra encouragement in sales, who thrives under pressure. Information that will help you be far better at what you do: a priceless holiday bonus.

Frances Cole Jones