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I am a project manager at an architectural firm in Cleveland. It’s a mid-sized firm (about 80 employees), and I’ve been here since April of this year. The employees and managers get along well. I work on a team with a great group of guys about my age. It’s a very busy environment, but friendly and relaxed. Our holiday office party is coming up in a few weeks. I’ve never been to one before, and am wondering if there is anything I should know about protocol at these events.



Answer:  The office holiday party is an opportunity to mingle with your coworkers and get to know colleagues who you may not see every day. It can also be a reputation minefield if you’re in unfamiliar territory. Keep these top three things in mind, and you’ll avoid being the Monday morning office gossip.

1. Don’t Drink Too Much. The unfortunate aftermath of nearly every holiday office party is the gossip about who drank too much. Don’t be that guy. You want to relax and enjoy yourself, but stay in control of your words and actions. Stick to the one-alcoholic-drink-per-hour rule, and save the Tequila shots for when you’re out with friends.

2. Don’t Assume You Can Bring Someone. If it isn’t clearly stated on the invitation, get clarification if you’re thinking about bringing a plus one. The party has been budgeted for a certain number of attendees, and may be a time when management wants to set aside for employees only. Also, no one wants to be the only uninvited guest to someone else’s office holiday party. Awkward.

3. Don’t Forget That the Party is Still a Company Function. The office party is not the time to complain about your boss or your firm. It is a time to get to know your coworkers more personally so that you can work together more effectively in the future. It’s also a chance to chat with people in other parts of the firm. Leave your complaints at the door. While you’re at it, drop off your politics and off-colored jokes there too.


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