Avoid Holiday Office Party Blunders


We have all heard the horror stories of holiday office parties gone terribly awry. The best holiday parties are packed full of surprises. Whether you are a new hire or have a tendency to get a bit over-zealous over drinks, monumental mistakes among co-workers and management can make or break your reputation.

Whether you work for a small business or a large corporation, you will likely be expected to attend some sort of holiday soiree. Expectations for these social events can be quite perplexing. On the one hand, there is the hope that employees will take the opportunity to relax, mingle with coworkers, and have a good time. On the flip side, there is also a social and professional expectation that you not relax too much, mingle too intimately, or have too good of a time.

As Epictetus once said, “If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.” Keeping this in mind, have come up with some rules of thumb for how to restrain yourself at your office holiday party without looking like a dud.


Err on the side of caution when it comes to dressing for a holiday office party. This is not the time to reveal your private assets. If you are a new hire, feel free to ask around. Determine what the expectations are for dress. When in doubt, go with the established workplace dress code. Just because it’s called a “party” doesn’t mean you should expose yourself in ways that would be deemed unacceptable at the workplace.

Limit Consumption

Over-indulging on alcohol is at the top of the list for primary work party blunders. Some employers opt for a holiday brunch to avoid such blunders. While evening parties tend to revolve around beer and hard liquors, brunches typically are alcohol-free or call for Mimosas and Bloody Marys, greatly reducing any drunken anticsAvoid doing something you will regret by limiting your alcohol consumption. Or, you could always abstain.

Drink Slowly

Not only should you limit your drinks, but you should remember to drink slowly. The faster you drink, the more drunk and more sick you get. Avoid looking like a lush by sipping your drink while mingling with coworkers.

Eat with Care

There are very few things more embarrassing than walking around with food down the front of you. Use proper etiquette when eating with coworkers. There is no rush. Holiday parties where meals are served are meant to be a social opportunity. Eat slowly and enjoy the flavors and your company.


Regardless of your personality and rank in the company, use this opportunity to mix and mingle. Holiday office parties may be one of the scarce opportunities you have to mingle, get to know coworkers, and most importantly, network. Some claim that your success is determined by who you know.

Be Mindful

Keep in mind that while you are there to relax and get to know your co-workers, there are some facets of your personal life that are better kept to your more intimate circle of friends. Sure you can tell stories and jokes, but leave out the inappropriate stories. Be mindful that what may be funny to you may be offensive to someone else.


photo credit: william couch via photopin

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