ho-ho-how to: surviving the company christmas party

Amidst all of the Christmas parties you’ll attend during the holiday season, if you’re extra lucky (LJ would probably beg to differ with me on this one), you may even have an office Christmas party. I love company Christmas parties – maybe it’s just because I’ve never had a job that has hosted one, but either way – I think they’re an absolute blast. What could be better than dressing up for a fancy dinner and drinks?

Whether it is your company’s shindig, or you are a plus one an honored guest, it’s important not to start off on the wrong foot. (Or end up on the bathroom floor.) Yes, Susan, we all remember your story about the time you got so drunk you knocked over the punch bowl onto the CEO… Everyone remembers.

So, today I’ve gathered up some of my soundest advice on how to win over your (or your significant other’s) boss, and avoid being the topic of the water cooler gossip when Monday morning rolls around. Because as hard as we try to avoid Monday morning… inevitably, it always does.

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and engage in conversation.

This one is especially important if you’re a guest – you’re a guest! And I guarantee you’re not the only one there who doesn’t work at this company. Don’t be afraid to speak to people your date introduces you to, these are the people they spend 40(ish) hours per week with. You’ve likely heard their names, maybe you even know a bit about their stories.  Ask them about their jobs, where they’re from, about their family. You may be surprised what you have in common – for me, it was how many people LJ works with who had lived in Pittsburgh! I knew they have a plant there, but it was so neat to bond over western PA.

Dress appropriately, and for the occasion

If your company is more fun and hip, and are hosting the party somewhere that reflects that, go for it! But on the other hand, if the party is at a higher class establishment, make sure to bust out the Sunday best. (Or at least some nice khakis and a dress.) A sequin dress and high heels may not be the best choice for Dave & Busters, while jeans and sneakers may be a little bit under-dressed for a country club.

You’re not Trey Songz – you’re here for more than the ladies and the drinks

If Trey Songz is indeed reading this, please disregard. Otherwise, be mindful of your alcohol consumption – especially if there is an open bar. If you are unsure if dinner will be served right away, don’t be afraid to eat a light snack before heading out in order to avoid drinking on an empty stomach. Getting too drunk at the company Christmas party can only end poorly, whether you are the employee or the guest. Definitely enjoy that glass of Pinot Grigio (or Manhattan in my case, this year), but know your limits.

Be classy, and do your best to avoid the ‘trashy’

In mixed company, it is always best to err on the side of caution. This is one of those times to listen to the old adage, “Never discuss politics or religion in polite company,” Avoiding cursing and other… not so shiny words and phrases… is probably in your best interest as well. Now, that’s not to say that if it is your company – and that is within the company culture – that you should be uptight and stiff just because you’re out of the office. Just make an extra effort to be aware of what is appropriate.

Celebrate good times (come on)

At the end of the day, it’s a party! Enjoy yourself! Unless you work for a really horrible company, chances are no one is forcing you to attend a party being held outside of the office which also probably has an open bar. So don’t be afraid to have a good time! I know it can be weird to associate work functions with fun, but it’s great for all of us to let loose every once in awhile. Everybody cut footloose, if you will.

I’m happy to report that LJ and I successfully made it through another of his company’s Christmas parties – this year being the first annual for their company’s new name, and held at the beautiful (and impressively massive) Tryon International Equestrian Center. We ate, we drank, we had a blast. (Even if I didn’t win the spa package or $100 Lowes gift card.) I love getting to meet his coworkers and friends, many of whom have become important fixtures in our lives outside the walls of the chemical plant.

Here is to surviving your own company’s party this year, may the odds (and tap) be ever in your favor.