If you're used to nibbling on your lunch in between keyboard strokes or having the luxury of preparing home cooked meals while in your pajamas, you may have forgotten the rules of dining etiquette. But you'll need etiquette reminders if you receive that sparkly invitation to a holiday party this year.
Don't worry: we have you covered. Here are five things you need to keep in mind before your corporate holiday party.
1. Choose Appropriate Attire
You've probably been wanting to show off your new Beyonce-inspired apparel, but your holiday party isn't the best place to reveal it. Leave that outfit at home until your next outing to the bar downtown.
It's a holiday party and I know you want to jazz it up a bit above your safe business casual apparel that you wear from 9-5. You can search your wardrobe for your sparkly outfits-there is nothing wrong with a little glitz and glam during the holiday season; just don't over do it. Make sure your clothing has appropriate hemlines and tasteful décolletage. Make sure that you can move abundantly in your dress and that the dress is suitable for your physical frame; you don't want your apparel to receive more attention than your recent work deliverables.
2. If You Bring a Date, Make Sure They are Corporate Approved
You are a reflection of the company you keep, so make sure your date is the best representation of you-or just go alone. If your date looks and acts like he has never been around working professionals, you can forget about your chances of getting that year-end promotion.
Make sure your date is appropriately dressed, speaks in a clear and audible tone, and understands proper dining etiquette procedures. Everything your date does or doesn't do can be held against you. And if you're thinking about breaking up with your boyfriend next month, he is not the one to invite to your holiday party- no matter how attractive he is.
3. Have Fun Dancing, but Remember Where You Are
This is not the time to show off your best Nicki Minaj dance routine. No twerking, no floor splits, and no showing off your teenage acrobatic skills. Don't do anything that you would want to appear on the front page of your company's intranet.
The best rule of thumb is to think about the impact your dance moves will have on your image when your colleagues approach you on Monday morning. Will they be saying, "You can dance!" or "We saw you on the dance floor last night...What a show." And if your coworkers decide to play show and tell by sharing incriminating iPhone footage of the party, you want to make sure that you aren't the center of all the laughs or raised eyebrows.
But don't let the potential consequences keep you off the dance floor. After all, it is a holiday party. Just use your best judgment. So, when your favorite dance slide comes on, join the crowd. Check YouTube for all the latest dance moves so you won't be the one in the corner watching while everyone else is bonding on the dance floor.
4. Remember Proper Dining Etiquette
Don't find the nearest table by you, sit down, and start sending messages on your cell phone. Show respect to those around you by introducing yourself when you arrive at the table. Then, unfold your napkin-without waving it like a flag-and place it neatly on your lap. Don't become overwhelmed by all the silverware surrounding you and don't make the mistake of taking your neighbor's silverware.
Here are some basic rules when dining in the United States: eat to your left and drink to your right. When using utensils, work from the outside in. The silverware furthest from you should be used first. Make sure you wait until everyone has received their plate before you dig into your meal.
5. Keep the Conversations Conflict Free
Holiday parties are a time for celebration, so don't be the Debbie downer of the party who ruins everything with your negative vibe and disheartening comments.
If you see the co-worker that you've been complaining about come your way, don't start rolling your eyes and whispering inappropriate comments to your other co-workers. If you see the one girl who just got an unexpected promotion, don't start sharing the latest gossip about how you think she rapidly moved up the corporate ladder.
And if you even think about bringing up politics, think again. Leave your political views at home; don't get into a political war at your holiday party unless you're asking to have that double chocolate frosted cake thrown in your face. You never know what can happen when people who have been drinking are emotionally outraged.
Bio: Charlene is a Freelance Writer, Keynote Speaker, and Entrepreneur. She helps people get featured in major publications all over the web and provides corporate and blog writing services. Download your free copy of the Ultimate LinkedIn Cheatsheet. Stop by and introduce yourself on Twitter and Instagram.