Help! How do I Survive My Holiday Work Party?

Dear Classy Career Girl, 

I’m a recent follower of your site and I was hoping you could give some tips on work-related holiday parties. I have two in the coming weeks – one for an industry partner, and one for my own firm. At my firm’s party we’re inviting clients, prospective clients, friends, media – the works. 

Here’s the thing; I hate these kinds of things – forced social encounters with people I don’t have anything in common with – except for work.

Plus, like everyone, sometimes people at work get on my nerves and I don’t fancy spending more time with them than I must.  

So basically, I’d love some classy career girl tips about how to engage with people at these things. What are good topics of conversation? How short of time can I get a way with staying?

Is there any way I can possibly have a good attitude about these things?

Thank you!

– Holiday Party Decorations Committee Member

How to Survive Your Holiday Work Party

Dear Decorations Committee Member,
There is a lot of overwhelm and hype about these events. Even though you spend so much of your time with your co-workers, you now have to spend your weekend with them at a forced “have fun” party.

Here is my advice on how to get through your holiday work party: 

Ask questions! Get to know them. It will make your professional life a lot better if you get to know your co-workers outside of the office. Also, volunteer information about you so that people can get to know you better.
No one may know where you grew up, what your hobbies are or that you are going to grad school in your spare time.  Most people in the office are so stressed with work during the day that they forget to get to make the time to get to know each other. A good icebreaker is to talk about how you helped put the party together and your fabulous decorations! People will be impressed I am sure! 🙂

[Related Post: What to Wear to Your Holiday Office Party]

Leverage the Power of Connections

Don’t underestimate the power of social work events. It is a time where people can relax and have fun.  If your boss is relaxed and having fun AND they remember having fun with you (not in a provocative way), they won’t forget this back in the office on Monday.  You will have more to talk about on Monday AND you may become someone they want to work with more or see rise the ranks in the office.
Almost all of my work relationships have improved dramatically while we were on work trips. Even though dinners out on work trips were forced and I did NOT want to go, I knew that it would be great to get to know my co-workers in a more personal way. My relationships are never the same the next week because I know them better which helps get things done more effectively and efficiently in the office. Even though I don’t want to go, I am always happy I went afterward.

Don’t Be the First to Leave

And don’t be the girl that escapes the party right away, especially if you are on the decorations committee! Don’t be the first to leave and be gracious when leaving because your work has probably put a lot of money into this event. When some people start leaving, you can often get to know people better when there are fewer people around. And by that time, people are usually more “relaxed” which makes it more fun!
Unfortunately, even though your party is on the weekend (or after work), you are still on the clock. You must do you best to be positive and have a good attitude. You may not believe it, but your behavior and attitude at the holiday work party may influence your future promotion and raises. I find that men in my company know this very well. They will follow the top dog around all night and smooze them left and right.
Don’t overdo it and be annoying, but make sure you meet and talk to as many people as you can.  This may be the one and only event where you will have the opportunity to meet the CEO.  Or since you mentioned that your clients will be attending the party, maybe this is your opportunity to land a new client! Whatever you do, don’t hold back and use this as a great opportunity to get ahead at work!

[Related Post: 5 Tips For Attending Your First Office Party]

Here are some great holiday work party tips from the video:

  • Use it as an opportunity to meet people and get to know them better!
  • Look at what your boss is doing and howthey are behaving and keep your drinking/dancing within those bounds.
  • Have a good time.
  • Act classy and dress classy. (I love this one!! 🙂
  • Don’t drink too much.
  • Don’t wear a short skirt.
  • Don’t talk about work.
  • Don’t gossip.

Watch this video if you want to hear about more inappropriate stories at holiday work parties. Remember, you have to see your co-workers on Monday morning!

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