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Work Holiday Parties: How to Navigate the Season Like a Professional

With this year coming soon to a close and 2019 waiting in the wings, the season of the work holiday party is upon us. It’s a time to unwind and celebrate your achievements together, all usually at your employer’s expense.

On average, we spend 40 hours a week with our colleagues, for a grand total of 2,087 hours a year. Compare that number to a British study of 2,000 families that found the average time spent with family, “undistracted”, weekly, was just over 6 hours and you’ll start to wonder if the concept of the “work family” is really such a stretch.

With all that considered, how we present ourselves – and how we’re perceived by our coworkers – matters. This is especially true of holiday celebrations, where a lowering of workplace formalities and the introduction of alcohol into the mix can either be great for office or shop morale or a recipe for poor decisions.

In today’s blog, we’ll provide you with some helpful tips that’ll help you plan and/or navigate your workplace holiday festivities like a professional.

Celebrate Diversity

For many employers, the end of the year party is often billed as the “Christmas Party”. While there’s nothing wrong with celebrating the holiday, it’s important to be mindful of your workplace’s diversity of cultures and religions in doing so.

That means making sure the party doesn’t focus on religious elements associated with the holiday that could make your colleagues from different backgrounds uncomfortable. Stick to decorations and themes that celebrate the seasonal and secular elements and substitute the nativity scene for a nutcracker. This will help ensure that your party is inclusive and doesn’t alienate anyone in attendance.

At the same time, make sure that your catering options accommodate different dietary restrictions. Include vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal options and make sure to also accommodate those with allergy restrictions as well.

Alcohol: Keep Within Your Limit

The cliché of one-too-many drinks at the office holiday party is one because it’s a mistake committed far-too-often. There’s no easier way to tarnish a good year and reputation with colleagues than to imbibe past your limit and to say things that you may not remember but will most certainly regret. There are a number of strategies to handling libations, including imposing a two-drink limit, subbing in water every other drink or most effective, leave the drinking for another time. That way, you’ll wake up with a clear head and an unburdened mind.

Another important alcohol related note to consider: if you’re drinking at the party, don’t drive. There’s no better way to ruin your career, your life and potentially, someone else’s than by getting a DUI and not showing up for work the next morning. Many employers today offer taxi-chits for employees to get home. Besides looking after their employees, there’s a good reason to do so: employers could be held liable for overserving employees at parties.

 

Keep Conversation Light and Cheery

One of the joys of the workplace holiday party is enjoying a holiday party with a minimal focus on the workplace. You have the next day or the Monday after to discuss the finer points of the new report or project – this is a time to connect with your colleagues and learn more about them and let them know about what you’re passionate about.

Keeping things light and cheery also means avoiding meanspirited gossip. Avoid talking negatively about another colleague, the party or something related to your job. Not only will this keep people merry and in festive spirits, but you’ll also be able to steer clear being labelled a holiday Grinch and have it come back to haunt you like it did to Mr. Scrooge.

Show Up and Know When to Leave

You might be thinking, “I could avoid all of these potential pitfalls and problems if I just skip the party”. While you could stay home, you might want to think again about whether you’re really playing it safe. Many companies look at events like these as mandatory – unless you have a valid reason, like a religious holiday conflict or a prior obligation, you’ll miss out on establishing stronger bonds with your bosses and colleagues. In turn, this could potentially affect your social relationships and ultimately, your career.

In terms of timing, don’t arrive too early or party too late.  Too early and you might aggravate those setting up (or get enlisted into doing the job yourself) and too late and you might overstay your welcome and running afoul of tip #2. Stay for the speeches and toasts and find an appropriate time to leave after you say your goodbyes.

Conclusion

There are plenty of other strategies to handling the holidays gracefully. Employ them so that you stay employed, just the same!


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