Navigating the Office Christmas Party

Here are a few tips for successfully navigating the annual office Christmas party from start to finish. If the job is a new one and this is your first December on board, it's a good idea to find out everything you can beforehand about the culture surrounding this event.

Getting home safely
Before you think about seating plans or what shoes to wear, think about how you will be getting home. As always, use a designated driver when celebrating this holiday season. Otherwise, unless you live in a city with public transportation, a pre-arranged taxi service should be on call. Know when to say when and call it a night.

Dress code
What is it about the office party that makes some gals (and guys) think it is more party than office? Wrong. Ladies, do wear a work-appropriate outfit and watch that hemline. It's fine to jazz it up with a bit of extra bling, higher heels, or red lipstick; or, change your hairdo and paint your nails. Glamour says no to Kardashian-cleavage, no to Lohan-sheer dresses and cut-outs, not to mention reindeer antler headbands. If you're tired of the little black dress, swap it for a little red dress, but not too little. Dress as though you have your eyes on a promotion.

Talking points
Since you put thought into your remarks at meetings at work, keep up the effort and don't completely wing it at the party. Spouses and partners may be invited, so have some non-controversial talking points ready for easy banter. Asking how someone plans to celebrate Christmas or New Year's is probably the simplest ice-breaker and will certainly lead to comfortable chatter. As always, avoid politics, whether office-related or otherwise.

Your name again, please?
If you're accustomed to relying on name badges at corporate gatherings, you may be tested when they're absent, so concentrate on names when you're introduced. Colleagues will notice when you include their partners in conversations, address him or her by name, and inquire later as to how they enjoyed the evening.

Put your phone away
The kids have a babysitter and everyone you need to focus on is already in the same room as you. If you must check on things at home, or even with a skeleton crew back at the office, step away to the restroom or coat check to do so.

Set your limit
Yes, you've been invited to have a complimentary drink on your firm. The key word here is firm, for that is what you need to be about setting your own limit on cocktails, beer, wine, or champagne. If there is simply too much pressure to "have another," the best idea is to have a soda water or coffee. Read about the Anheuser-Busch pledge to drink responsibly and keep it in mind for an office party that makes you shine but not blush.

Content by Laurie Jo Miller Farr.