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"Uh oh...Carol is doing her Elaine Benes impression...'tis the season."

Holiday Party Do's and Don'ts

December 15, 2015

Tis the season for holiday parties at work-- yay! It’s a festive time of year no matter what holiday you celebrate, with the lights and songs and jingle bells everywhere reminding us there is so much to celebrate. While work parties can be fun, there are some etiquette things to keep in mind so all goes well.

Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind at your company holiday parties:


  • Celebrate the season and all of your hard work. This is a time to look back at the past year and remember all that you and your coworkers accomplished. Pat yourselves on the back! It’s the end of a calendar year and a great time to feel proud of your accomplishments and revel in them before the new year.
  • Ask your coworkers about past parties if you haven’t yet attended one. “Your colleagues can offer their insights into what is expected of you in terms of gifts, alcohol consumption if there is any, and other types of ideas on how to act,” Ashley, hiring expert at Textron Inc. says. “If you are uncomfortable about asking an older colleague, I would suggest reaching out to other colleagues who are also new to the company and ask how they are going to act at the holiday party.”
  • Check with others about the expectations for gifts (or not). “I highly suggest asking co-workers what they usually do,” Archer Daniels Midland hiring expert Sonya says. “Sometimes "teams" will throw money together and get their boss something all together. If not, you are always safe with getting your boss a gift card (maybe from Starbucks or their favorite restaurant).”
  • Have a good time...just don’t go overboard. There is nothing classy or professional about somebody who overdoes it at a work party, and you don’t want to be that person. Take your cues from the people around you. Is your boss just having one drink? That’s probably a good example to follow. If you want to act rowdy, save it for a different party where that behavior won’t be frowned upon by HR.


  • Have more than two drinks. Cassandra from Verizon gave this advice for the context of a networking event, but it applies to holiday parties as well: “If drinks are provided, have a glass but remember the main focus of the event is to network and you want to be your best and sharpest self when talking to others especially about your skills, experiences and qualifications.  If ever in doubt,  get a non-alcoholic mocktail to drink as you network.” While the focus of holiday parties isn’t necessarily to network, you are still building relationships with your coworkers, so it’s best to stay professional and in control. You don’t want to accidentally say something inappropriate or rude just because of alcohol in your system!
  • Act flirtatious or inappropriately toward your coworkers (or your boss). If it isn’t appropriate in the office during the work day, it’s best to assume it isn’t appropriate around the same people even after hours. We aren’t trying to be a total buzzkill (we know people can have crushes at work!) but it’s a good idea to stay on your best behavior while at any kind of work function, since your actions reflects back on your character.
  • Assume you can bring a plus one without asking first. Some work parties are meant for just the employees of the company, and some are open to all employees and their significant others or families. Be sure to check with somebody who is organizing the event to make sure before you assume you can bring others with you!

We want you to have a great time at your work parties this season (and we’re sure your company does too) but be sure to keep these things in mind so you don’t embarrass yourself, do something inappropriate, or worse, risk your job. Cheers to all of your hard work! Have a wonderful holiday season!

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