The office holiday party may seem like a mandatory celebration. Perhaps it is not in your tradition to celebrate Christmas. May be you are introversive, do not enjoy partying, or you feel uneasy about being around many unfamiliar people. You might even dread interacting with coworkers who you are not immensely fond of.
Despite your reluctance, the office holiday party comes with an implied obligation to attend it and enjoy it. Generally, companies consider the holiday party as a morale- and camaraderie-building occasion, not just as a mere ritual. Therefore, your management will take notice if you do not attend and may deem you negligent or arrogant if you ignore the office holiday party.
Unless you have a perfectly compelling reason—not an excuse—not to, you should partake in this celebration. It pays to attend the office holiday party, attempt to like it, exchange gifts, and make the most of it.
Great Opportunity to be “Seen”
As you move up the corporate ladder, one vital skill for your success is to be on familiar terms with the influential managers in your organization. The art of forming coalitions and winning the support is more about “who knows you” and “what they know about you” than about “who you know.” The most effective way of earning this recognition is showing up where the action is, “being there” and acting the part. For this very reason, the office holiday party is a great networking opportunity for you to introduce yourself to peers and management with whom you would not normally interact.
Office Holiday Party Etiquette
- A word on propriety for the organizers: do not call the holiday party a “Christmas Party” and alienate employees who may not celebrate Christmas. The term “holiday party” is more inclusive.
- Attend the party. Do not arrive too late or leave too early. You need not stay for the length of the party.
- The holiday party is not a social occasion. Even if the party has a festive theme and setting, it is still in the professional context. Dress appropriately and conduct yourself professionally. Do not eat excessively or get drunk. Do not pass judgment, exchange inappropriate comments and jokes, or deride other guests.
- Be Seen. Do not spend all your time hanging around familiar people. Mingle and introduce yourself to as many other guests as you can. Make sure you are “seen” by everybody important. Attempt to enjoy the party and make the most of it.
- Bring a thoughtful and practical gift for the gift exchange ritual. Stay within the prescribed guidelines for buying gifts.
- See my articles on how to start a conversation, how to help people pursue a conversation, how to introduce people to one another, and how to remember names.
The Winning Idea: Attend and enjoy the office party
Professional visibility and career success is often about fitting in and being visible to the influential managers and peers. Unless you have a perfectly compelling reason not to, you should partake in the office holiday party. Consider it a career advancement exercise, mingle with everybody, and enjoy it.