If you think the holiday office party is the perfect opportunity to eat, drink and be jolly, you may want to think again. Overindulging on the holiday jingle juice and trying to kiss a colleague under the mistletoe are obvious disasters to avoid, but there are other important details that can affect your professional image.
To ensure you keep your glowing reputation intact, follow these tips:
Eat before you go - Even though the holiday party will offer more food and beverages than Santa has toys, have a small snack before you leave the house or office so you won't appear ravenous and spend most of your time in the buffet line. Carry only one plate and go back through the line for dessert.
Prepare in advance - Putting thought into your attire and arriving on time aren't the only details to attend to before the holiday fête. Plan a few conversation topics that are lighthearted and engaging, such as asking a client about his or her favorite holiday tradition or where they plan to spend the holiday this year.
Don't bring a "plus one" - Unless the invitation specifically states that they are invited, leave your new boyfriend or girlfriend at home. It is bad form to call and ask if they may attend, or to just assume no one will notice.
Make a proper introduction - If the company party is one of the few occasions you see the CEO during the year, take advantage of the opportunity and make your presence known. By giving a proper introduction, which includes a firm handshake, eye contact and a clear delivery of your first and last name, you are setting yourself apart. Being the first to extend your hand for a professional handshake shows a confidence that is not easily overlooked.
Work the room - When you arrive, make sure to greet your host and proceed to mix and mingle with other guests. Make a point to strike up conversations with people you don't already know, or don't see on a regular basis. A good guest understands their primary role is to make the host glad he or she invited you.
Watch your liquor consumption - Conversing with superiors or making a positive impression on a client means you have to be totally alert and quick on your feet. Use restraint and your best judgment by limiting yourself to one or two drinks, even if your colleagues are taking holiday shots in the back of the room.
Dress appropriately for the occasion - You can certainly dress festive and be a bit creative, but don't wear anything that would make Santa blush. You want to be noticed for your dazzling conversation, not your lack of good taste.
Don't leave without saying "goodbye" - Slipping out the back door can prove to be a disastrous career move. Obligatory good-byes are not only polite but necessary. Keep in mind that you also don't want to be the first to arrive or the last to leave the party.
Make sure and thank those who coordinated the party - Acknowledge the efforts of those who planned and put together the holiday office party. This simple gesture is a way to set you apart from the colleagues who disappeared out the emergency exit thirty minutes after the party started.
Smile, you are on display - On the eve of the event, put on your best suit, your brightest smile and bring some holiday cheer to the party. Jump in and offer to help if you see the host struggling to keep the drinks stocked or the appetizers moving along. Make it a point to be a team player and leave a lasting impression. People remember common courtesy.
For more etiquette tips, visit my blog, connect with me here on The Huffington Post, follow me on Pinterest, and "Like" me on Facebook at Protocol School of Texas.
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