Holiday Party Etiquette


The office holiday party can get weird. It's a delicate balancing act. On one hand, you've worked hard all year and you're ready for a well-deserved evening of blowing off steam with your coworkers. At the same time, these are the people you spend a minimum of 40 hours a week with in a (mostly) professional environment — so it's a good idea to reign in your wild side, or face the consequences of hushed whispers and office gossip following you around the water cooler until March.

Don't become that coworker. Below, we've outlined a few of the dos and don'ts for company holiday party etiquette — as well as a couple of suggestions on how to make the most of an occasionally awkward situation.


Here's how to put your best face forward during company holiday festivities. 

  • Show up and have fun: Bonding with your coworkers is one way to make the holiday season a little less stressful, and if your holiday party is at a fun venue, like Bowlmor Lanes, you're likely to see a different side of your co-workers, because a mix of food, drinks and games will bring out the party animal in anyone. And if you’re lame enough to bail, try to be creative with your excuses (or, better yet, your actual reason for not attending). You've signed up for a class to learn the art of calligraphy, for example, sounds a lot better than, "I’ve got a date with Netflix."
  • Show off your hidden talents: Do you have a crazy dance move you’ve mastered? Can you do a backflip? Use the social setting to show off something about yourself that can serve as a conversation-starter over your daily 2 p.m. coffee break. (Use your judgment based on your work environment about what constitutes an appropriate talent. "Impressively long keg stand" is probably best reserved for a particular breed of startup culture; it's less kosher at a traditional law firm.)
  • Come up with unconventional conversation topics ahead of time: You talk about work endlessly with these people. Find something to discuss that leads to more personal connections. Come up with some bizarre conversation-starters like: "What's your second favorite animal?" or, "What's the weirdest thing Room Raiders would find in your apartment?" The bizarre questions will shock your coworkers into a potentially hilarious and, most importantly, real conversation.
  • Bond with coworkers you haven't spent much time with: You're on the same coffee break schedule with Susie from accounting, but the two of you have never really taken the time to get to know one another beyond the typical office small talk. On the other hand, you could recite the names of your closest coworker's last four boyfriends in a heartbeat. The holiday party is an opportunity to branch out of your office comfort zone and build some new relationships in a social setting. Mix it up if you'll be sharing a lane or a dance floor, and make a concerted effort to get to know your coworkers on a more personal level.
  • Extend an olive branch to your office rival: The holidays are the time for forgiveness. Even if you're typically at each other's throats in meetings or are constantly competing for the attention of your boss, take the time to have a friendly conversation with your office rival and his or her plus-one. If you're hitting the lanes this season, offer your office rival a celeb shot –- if they strike out, you’ve found a new best friend. If they don’t, then just remember it's not time that heals all wounds; it's an open bar.


On the other side of the spectrum, here are a few behaviors to avoid at all costs when you're getting your jingle ball on with your fellow officemates.

  • Inadvertently Snapchat your real evening plans: If you completely ignored the first piece of advice on this list — and if so, we're not quite sure why you've continued to read the rest of this article — and bailed on the company party, take a few steps (such as putting your social media accounts in stealth mode) to ensure that your colleagues don't get a glimpse of what you chose to attend instead.
  • Let sensitive office gossip slip in an effort to converse with coworkers: Everyone knows that Josh and Becky are secretly dating –- except HR, of course. Don’t be the coworker with a big mouth who gabs about office gossip after a couple of drinks or in a fumbling, misguided effort to connect with your colleagues over the latest juicy dirt.
  • Act like it’s a night out at the club: There is a time and a place for skintight, metallic attire — and it's a better fit for a Halloween-themed sorority pub crawl than it is for any kind of corporate setting, even if said corporate event is a party. From your outfit choice to how much you’ll drink, try to remember there’s no need to show up in a tube dress and order six martinis from the open bar before 9 p.m.
  • Hound members of the C-suite after one too many drinks: This one should be a no-brainer, but now is not the time to approach the company COO about that raise you know you deserve. That said if a little liquid courage gives you the guts to approach one of the higher-ups and tactfully introduce yourself or start a conversation, it can be a good time to do a little social schmoozing in a friendlier atmosphere.
  • Order tequila shots: You know what they say about tequila. Or maybe you don't, because you've only ever heard those sayings while engulfed in a five-tequila-shot-deep stupor. Take it from us. At the office party, just steer clear from the Cuervo.

Holiday office parties are an excellent opportunity to celebrate the season, strengthen workplace bonds, and let loose in a more relaxed setting. However, it's essential to remember that these events are still professional gatherings, and maintaining proper holiday office party etiquette is key to ensuring a positive and memorable experience for all.

By following the company holiday party etiquette and tips we've discussed, you can navigate the delicate balance of having fun while staying respectful and considerate. Whether you're mingling with coworkers, enjoying festive treats, or participating in office party games, your behavior reflects your professionalism and contributes to a harmonious workplace.

So, as the holiday season approaches, embrace the festive spirit and spread cheer at your holiday office party, all while adhering to the professional rules of etiquette. In doing so, you'll make your workplace a more enjoyable and harmonious environment, setting the stage for a successful and joyous new year ahead. Happy holidays and may your holiday office party be filled with laughter, camaraderie, and goodwill!


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