The DOs and DON’Ts of Holiday Office Parties

by . December 8th, 2014

The turkeys had been stuffed, the retailers had their discount deals, and hopefully you as small business entrepreneurs had a fair share of the surge of sales from Thanksgiving week. But the ruckus that was the turkey week is only the beginning of the holiday season.

And the holiday season means one thing:

Holiday Office Parties

(or probably still sales. It depends really.)


(Photo credit: jurvetson)

In the next few weeks, the holiday party season would be in full swing. The year-end party is a good opportunity for owners to show their appreciation for a year of hard work from their subordinates. It’s a time for relaxation and have fun in the company of colleagues.

But the emphasis of a holiday office party is still the office part.

Whether you’re the business owner, a manager, or an employee, remember one thing: DON’T SCREW THIS UP. That said, here are some DOs and DONTs for you to survive the impending holiday office party.

1. DO prepare a proper attire in advance

Most office parties have a set theme to which you should base your attire. (Our theme this year is “Rockin’ and Roarin’ 20s”). Whether yours have one or not, you should still prepare what you would wear in advance. Shopping for clothes is quite hectic this season. Save yourself from a lot of hassle by shopping early.


The only guy who can pull off a 1780s costume in a 1980s party. 

An even better alternative is to just enter your wardrobe (please do not actually enter your wardrobe) and create a closet costume. It saves money, time, and you would finally get to reuse that chicken costume you bought a few years ago.

2. DO interact with colleagues you don’t usually talk to

In the span of the whole year, the company must’ve hired new employees and created new teams. Thing is, you’re probably too familiar already with your seatmates or co-team members. It’s time to talk to someone new!

Parties are all about boosting the morale of the company. And what better way to do that than to get to know EJ from IT or Priscilla from Marketing? Getting familiar with members of other teams/departments can increase the efficiency of interdepartmental work. Plus, it can also increase your network that could be useful in your career and future business endeavors.

Just be sure to prepare a list of small talk topics. Appropriate ones.

3. DO respond if you will be able to come or not

Your holiday party is part of the company budget. As a courtesy to the event planner, to the other party guests and to the accounting department, do tell in advance if you’re going to make it to the party.


But seriously, come to the party! Don’t be this guy! (Photo credit: x-ray delta one)

There might be an instance when you won’t be sure if you could come, but respond anyway. Tell the event planners a specific time when you would be able to tell if you’re going to make it. That’s better than no response at all.

4. DON’T bring plus ones unless explicitly stated

Again, do this as a courtesy to the event planners. Most companies only include employees (for budget reasons), but even so, never bring your SOs or whoever into the company event unless explicitly stated.

Besides, he or she would probably not get that inside joke you have about the pineapple. Exactly.

5. DON’T hit on your employees/officemates

This is an office party. Hence, those rules from Human Resources that you spent a day getting lectured with are still in effect. This isn’t a bar.


(Photo credit: HeatherLWilliams)

While I did say that you should reach out to new people, don’t do so with the intent of romance, or worse, one night stands. Doing so will affect your working relationships with your co-workers that might have a negative impact on the company.

6. DON’T gobble all of the chicken wings.

One of the perks of the holiday office party is the free food. But just because it is free doesn’t mean that you are entitled to the bucket of chicken wings served on your table.


Resist it! (Photo credit: Perfectance)

Eat a reasonable portion of the food. Take a bite of everything. Don’t eat too much. You don’t want to be the subject of the coffee break discussion the next day.

7. DON’T consume too much liquor

THIS. This is the ultimate don’t of holiday office parties.


Shame on you if you do this. (Photo credit: Melissa O’Donohue)

If you are organizing an office party, be careful when serving alcohol. Always have contingency measures, such as designated drivers or cabs on call for your co-workers or employees.

As a guest, watch your alcohol consumption. It goes without saying that liquor has a huge effect on your inhibitions. It might be too late until you realize you’ve said or done something that would warrant an apology the next day. (Or worse, your company might get banned from the place).

Moderation is the keyword here.


There’s our rundown on things you should and shouldn’t do on your company’s holiday bash. By the way, have you had your Secret Santa gifts yet? Check out our article on gifts you would want to avoid in your office Secret Santa event.

Do you have more tips for holiday office parties? Comment them here!


Kevin is a reader first, a writer second, and a gamer somewhere in between. When not rooting for Tyrion Lannister for the Iron Throne, he's probably writing some morbid short story. He enjoys some surreal art, clever advertising campaigns, and a warm cup of coffee while reading Murakami.