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My office holiday party experience over the years has ranged from small gatherings at a co-worker’s home to all-employee, open-bar festivities for 800 employees. Overall, I can recall only one incident that left me embarrassed. As we enter the holiday season, I encourage you to remember these tips about holiday office party etiquette.

Arrive and leave at an appropriate time

Never arrive before the designated time. This is true for all parties. Unless the host has asked for your help, do not arrive early and never be the last to leave.

Watch your alcohol intake

Go ahead and be merry—but don’t overdo it. Everyone reading this knows what I mean, but I have to mention it because someone always seems to forget and think that a 
holiday party (open bar) means drink, drink, drink. (No, no, no.) 

Watch what you wear

This is not the time to be the sexy co-worker. Holiday ties, Santa hats, etc. might be appropriate. If you’re not 
sure, ask. 

Watch what you eat

Don’t arrive starving and cram food on to your 
plate. This isn’t your last meal. This time is meant for getting to know your co-workers in a festive environment. It’s much wiser to spend your time building and nurturing relationships than munching on hors d’oeuvres. 

Come ready to talk about a variety of non-controversial subjects

Now, more than ever, do NOT talk about politics. Period. 

Thank the hosts of the event

This is where I embarrassed myself. I think I accidentally kissed my boss’ boss as I was leaving the party. It was a festive atmosphere and I felt that a handshake was too formal. It happened so quickly that I’m not even 100 percent sure I did it. I just had to laugh! 

Suzanne Willis is the founder of Willis Consulting & Communications in Naples, which specializes in contemporary business, social and children’s etiquette. 

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