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How To Avoid Disaster at the Office Holiday Party

“Your behavior always matters,” says business-etiquette expert Barbara Pachter, author of Greet! Eat! Tweet!  “It doesn’t mean it’s time to let loose just because you are out of the office.”
Among the gaffes she points out are:

  • A saleswoman brought her dog to her manager’s holiday party, held at his home. The dog proceeded to do his business on the dining room rug. 
  • A young man got drunk at his company party, cursed out his boss and was fired on the spot.

Pachter suggests that an employee view the holiday party as he or she would any other business event, and provides 10 tips for success:

1.  Attend. One may not want to go, but attendance at the company holiday party isn’t optional. An employee’s absence will be noticed, and most likely, noted by one’s boss and other higher-ups.
2.  Dress appropriately. It is a party, but attire needs to be suitable for a business event, not a nightclub.  
3.   Prepare one’s significant other. Many times significant others are included. Let them know about appropriate dress and topics of conversation. His or her behavior will reflect on the employee.
4.  Bring a hostess gift. If the party is held at someone’s home, a small gift is appropriate. Examples include cocktail napkins, a box of chocolates or a small candy dish.
5.  Plan conversation ahead of time. “One always speaks badly when one has nothing to say.” (Voltaire)  Don’t just talk business. Be up-to-date on current events and happenings in the community. Read the newspaper, online news sites, newsmagazines, company publications and professional journals.
6.  Schmooze.  Talk to people one knows and doesn’t know.  Don’t tweet or text. The person one meets at the party may turn out to be the interviewer for one’s next job. Keep the conversation upbeat. Complaining about the company or the economy is a downer.
7.  No flirting. This is not the time to hit on the boss’s spouse.
8.  Stay sober.  It’s easy to do something outrageous when one has had too much to drink. Set a self-limit before going to the party. It is much easier to limit one’s intake that way. Or order a disliked drink and sip it slowly all night.  
9.  Say “goodbye” and “thank you” to the host or party organizers. One will want to send a thank-you note, also.  
10. Don’t post negative opinions/photos about the party on social-media sites. Someone’s unbecoming behavior should not be discussed or shown on Facebook.

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