One of the stars of the upcoming movie “Office Christmas Party” can be seen saying during the film's trailer, “Tonight, the decisions you will make will have consequences that will haunt you for the rest of your professional lives.” Kate McKinnon, who stars in the movie that is scheduled for release Friday, issued the warning just before a major client of the company throwing the titular celebration attempted to swing from a balcony on a string of lights, only to fall head-first into a filing cabinet.
Employees’ choices at their upcoming real-life office holiday parties — or “non-denominational holiday mixer[s],” as McKinnon’s character puts it in the movie — probably won’t affect their careers as much as the workers at the film’s fictional Zenotek will be haunted by theirs.
But that doesn’t mean party-goers won’t do something they regret. A quarter of employees are likely to work less than four hours on the day after their office holiday celebrations, and a fifth are likely to call in sick, according to a survey from travel site lastminute.com. Read on for holiday work party dos and don’ts from experts on etiquette and sticking to the rules in corporate settings.
Don’t: Enflame The Office Drama
The Etiquette School of New York, which offers training to large companies, universities and individuals, provides a long list of optimal behaviors for workplace holiday parties and devotes a large portion of text to small talk.
“This is not the time to complain to your boss about your co-workers,” the school cautioned, adding that employees shouldn’t gather to “talk shop” but should keep the conversation light and positive. “The best topics to talk about are to ask what the other person thinks about local changes or events, about national trends, about current culture, books and movies, or something you read in the daily newspaper. Steer clear of controversy, however.” (Translation: The Nov. 8 election should probably be off-limits.)
Do: Expand Your Network
Mingling outside of the team you interact with on a day-to-day basis could help you take away something positive from the event — a longer-lasting benefit, at least, than free drinks and hors d’oeuvres, Susan Bryant, a contributor to job search engine Monster’s career advice section, opined.
“Your company party may be the only time you see the president, CEO or VPs in person. Introduce yourself,” Bryant wrote. “This is a great opportunity to become visible to your organization’s higher-ups. At the very least, don’t spend the entire evening with your regular office buddies — get in the holiday spirit and mingle with people from other departments.”
Don’t: Try To ‘Keep Up’ With The Heavy Drinkers
No one likes a hangover, but it can be easy to go overboard at office parties, especially if an open bar is involved. Stick to one drink per hour, and two in total if you can help it, manners blogger and author Maralee McKee advised in a post.
“If people (even the boss) are urging you to ‘keep up with them’ (it really is awful when people do that), say something along the lines of, ‘I’m fine, thanks. Plus I’m the designated driver,’” McKee wrote, emphasizing the importance of keeping “your wits about you.”
Do: Avoid Staring At Your Phone All Night
Employees are better off forgetting about social media and should resist the allure of going to town on selfies and status updates, Joanne Blake, the president of Canadian etiquette consulting firm Style for Success, told CBC News.
“Less is more then it comes to social media,” Blake said, according to the broadcaster. Like many common sense pieces of advice for such occasions, it can be difficult to keep these things in mind when everyone is drinking and “in the moment.”
“Common sense,” she said, “is not always that common.”