Office Party Etiquette

By Ellis Friedman , last updated January 24, 2012

Office parties can be etiquette landmines, as it is a time for employees to relax and socialize, yet it is still in the context of business. As long as you follow some general rules about office party etiquette, it is easy to avoid making a faux-pas that impacts your career. Here are some of the dos and don’ts of office party etiquette.

Do Attend

It is always good etiquette to attend the office party. Not attending is seen as anti-social and disrespectful. So even if you’re not into it, put on a smile and try your best to enjoy the party.

Don’t Drink Too Much

The most important rule when attending the office party is not to drink too much alcohol. Drinking lowers your inhibitions and though it is a social event, it is still a business function, and getting rowdy reflects poorly upon you. On the other hand, if your office has a culture of drinking, start with one drink like rum and Coke and make all your subsequent drinks just plain Coke. If you or a co-worker do drink too much, do not drink and drive. Instead, ask for a ride or taxi home, or offer a tipsy co-worker the same.

Do Dress Appropriately

Make sure you find out if the party is formal or casual, since you don’t want to show up for the office holiday party in a holiday sweater while everyone else is in suits and dresses. Find out the dress code ahead of time and plan accordingly. Since it is an office function, don’t dress like you’re going out to a club. Playing it safer with a bit more modest and understated attire is the best way to go.

Don’t Stress

Though it is an office party, don’t stress so much that you don’t enjoy yourself. Mingle and chat with your co-workers and their spouses. If you enjoy yourself, others will enjoy themselves and you will make a better impression. Don’t talk about heavy subjects or consistently talk about business. Instead, keep conversations to small talk and pleasant subjects.

Do Be Prepared

If you are nervous about the prospect of making chit-chat the whole night, make a mental list of a few topics to talk about. People love talking about themselves, so asking other people questions is a great way to get the conversation rolling.

Do Know the Guest List

Ask ahead of time whether spouses or dates are permitted to attend the office party. If guests are permitted, don’t bring someone who has a history of acting inappropriately.

Do Be Gracious

Make sure you know who is responsible for planning and throwing the party, and thank them graciously during the course of the evening or before you leave. Also, consider sending a thank you note to the management or to the boss. Thank you notes always leave a positive impression.

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