It is that time of the year again – the company holiday party. You might be excited or you might be as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Do not fear, I have assembled some useful tips to ensure a great time for all.

Pre Party

1.       Prepare Yourself

If you work in a larger company, this can be an opportunity for you to connect with individuals that are not in your department and do not see very often. Before the party, pick out a few individuals you want to get to know better professionally and prepare some conversation topics.

2.       Consider Your “+1” Options

If you want to bring a guest to your work party that is not a spouse or significant other, make sure you think over the best option. You may want to bring your best friend, however, are they able to conduct themselves in a semi professional manner? Make sure your guest would not reflect poorly on you personally to your boss or supervisor – in most cases this would mean making sure your guest is not doing body shots or cursing up a storm – leave your “Bro”s at home.

During the Party

3.       Drink Responsibly

No brainer right? Well, when the atmosphere is festive and the drinks are free, it can be far too easy to lost track of the amount of alcohol you’ve consumed, until it is too late of course. No one wants to be labeled the office puker – know your acceptable limit. Going back to choosing a good party guest, having a partner to help make sure you don’t start talking stupid is a very good idea. I once brought my mom to a company holiday party – not only was it a blast but she was also a reminder to myself to monitor my intake.

4.       Avoiding  Awkward Conversation

It’s bound to happen, with your coworkers bringing spouses and friends, there will be people you don’t know and you will be introduced…then what? Create a diversion by throwing your wine glass to the floor and fleeing? No. But you can prepare yourself for this situation by rehearsing some generic introduction questions to fill the silence – “Are you enjoying yourself? What kind of work do you do?  What do you do when you’re not working?” Try not to get too personal especially if they came with a coworker you don’t particularly know well yourself.

After Party

5.       Follow Up

So you made some acquaintances or connected more with a coworker, great! Follow up, just like after a professional meeting or networking event. Whether with a card, phone call, or email, let your new acquaintances know how nice it was to meet them and perhaps even arrange a time to network over coffee. Also, don’t forget to thank the organizers of the party.

6.       Don’t Be A Jerk

If someone at the holiday party made some etiquette errors (perhaps they did not read this blog post) don’t be a jerk about it. Holiday parties can be stressful for some individuals and can make a perfectly lovely person say inappropriate things or become clumsy. If alcohol was the culprit for their holiday party mistakes, I am sure the morning after was more than enough punishment – there is no need to gossip or ridicule them.  Let’s be classy people, we have all made a fool of ourselves in one situation or another.

Try and relax. Company parties are supposed to be fun and are a way for the boss to show their appreciation for your efforts. I hope this list has been helpful. Please share any thoughts or additional advice!