The first step in using the party to your advantage is just simply going. Not going to the party is a big mistake! Whether you like it or not, your company’s holiday party is a must-attend event. This means that you shouldn’t schedule anything on the night of the party. Obviously, there are a lot of things going on during the busy holiday season, but blowing off a work function to have fun with your friends or family isn’t going to help your career. Your holiday party is just one night, once a year – you have the entire rest of the holiday season to spend with your loved ones. Absolutely keep your calendar clear so that you can be in attendance.
Just because your holiday party is at night doesn’t mean that you should treat it like a night out on the town with friends. Keep the same dress standards that you would for going into the office on a regular day. Your attire should be respectful of the fact that it’s still a work setting, which means that you shouldn’t wear anything too revealing or scandalous. If you want to make a statement with your outfit, do it with your accessories, make-up, or hair. For instance, either gender can don a fashionable hat or great-looking watch to make an outfit that will stand out in a positive way.
Don’t arrive wearing something too casual either (especially if your work atmosphere tends to be a little more formal). A lot of work goes into planning the company holiday party, and you want to show that you’re thankful and appreciative for the gesture.
You don’t have to be the very first person there, but you should show up reasonably on time. Showing up too late implies that you might be squeezing the party in around other, more important, commitments. Sure, getting to some parties when they start might not be the coolest move ever, but getting to your company’s holiday party on time gives you the opportunity to have some great conversations with people before it gets busy and loud.
If possible, take your spouse, significant other, or good friend to introduce to your coworkers. Bringing a piece of your personal life with you humanizes you and makes you more approachable. Just be sure that anyone you bring is going to be an asset to your career and not a liability. The last thing you want is to be known as the guy who brought his crazy conspiracy theory brother or the woman who brought her lecherous boyfriend.
Just talking to your work friends all night is easy and comfortable, but they already know you. The holiday party is a great chance to get some face time with people that you might not have an opportunity to interact with otherwise. Seek out and socialize with management and c-level personnel. These types of people can help advance your career by acting as mentors, giving you additional responsibilities, and recommending you for a promotion.
A lot of company parties are open bar during the holidays, which means that there’s a significant potential for over indulgence. While having a couple of drinks may make you feel more relaxed or seem more social, you should never drink to excess. Know your limit and stick to it. If this means not drinking at all, that’s perfectly fine as well. Just remember, being drunk at your holiday party is the worst thing you can do because you’ll probably end up doing or saying things that you’ll regret! To illustrate this point, here’s a story:
Early in my career I was working at a tech startup and my first year there we had a holiday party. It was a casino theme with tables where you could gamble for chips and then trade in the chips for raffle tickets to put towards a whole slew of awesome prizes (like gaming consoles and flat screen TVs). One of the sales ladies hit the bar hard and before long she was sloshed. She proceeded to awkwardly hug the woman running the craps table while declaring that they were best friends and intermittently throw chips at her coworkers like she was starting a food fight. Afterwards, she tried to light up a cigarette inside before being reprimanded and went missing for a time when she got lost trying to find the bathroom. The entire spectacle culminated in her collapsing during the raffle draw and taking an elderly man out with her on her way to the floor. At the end of the night she tried to drive herself home, necessitating that the CEO of the company pry her keys out of her hand and call her a cab. Needless to say, she only worked at the company for about a week after that debacle!
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!