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10 Office Holiday Party Landmines to Avoid

By Deborah Rothberg  |  Posted 2006-12-07 Print this article Print

Workers tend to dread holiday parties because "fun" and "continuing to pay your bills" rarely mix. Since you can't sit it out, eWEEK leads you through a guided tour of the landmines to avoid.

There's a reason a lot of workers dread holiday parties and it's because "fun" and "making sure you can continue to pay your bills" rarely mix in a copasetic manner.

Can you drink? Must you wear a tie? What if you say the wrong thing? What if your manager says you should loosen up but doesn't really mean it? What if you make a bad joke? Do you have to be nice to the vice president that always calls you "Bob" when your name is "Brian"?

To some, it feels like walking a tightrope and it's reason enough to just want to stay home.

But you can't. Or it is at least considered ill-advised by HR professionals and those people who hired you and are footing the bill for the party.

You're going to have to show up, and you'll have to clean up your mess if you blow it. But eWEEK strives to make this a lot less daunting with by leading you through a guided tour of the things you should not do.

1. Blow It Off

We hate to put it to you this way, but consider your office's holiday party part of your job. No matter what your personal feelings are regarding the mixing of work and play, or how dull the music, the people upstairs really did throw it with the best of intentions, so think of it like a business dinner and let them know if you are arriving late or leaving early.

And show up ready to work… just a little less hard.

"It's an employer-sponsored party, so treat it like a business function first and a party second. Make sure you attend. People tend not to feel any obligation to attend, but you should. Show up even if you don't stay the whole time," Nancy Halverson, vice president of talent development at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. recruiting and staffing firm Spherion, told eWEEK.

2. Not Know Who You Are Talking To

If there is any other salient reason that workers tend to have mixed feelings toward office holiday parties, it's that guy. You know, the one from accounting and The Story That Will Never Die about the time he hit on a woman at the party that turned out to be the CEO's wife of 30 years.

It gets whispered in the corridors whenever he passes and carried on to new recruits as they join the company. Even the overnight maintenance guy knows about the look that crossed his face when she clarified who she was, and while everyone is sure it's an unrelated occurrence, that guy in accounting hasn't been promoted in the five years since.

Furthermore, don't forget to prep your guest that she or he is about join a conversation with the Chairman of the Board. They'll thank you for the warning.

"Make sure your prep your spouse or guest on the intricacies of your workplace. They should know who your supervisors and important people are and they should be in the loop on some company gossip so they don't make a totally innocent, but very damaging, mistake," said Halverson.

3. Get Plastered and Tell Your Boss How You Really, Really Feel

Remember that scene in Bridget Jones's Diary in which she has an office party flashback where she is crooning off-key at the top of her lungs, a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of booze in the other, and, if we remember correctly, she has some tassels on her head?

Well, between Bridget-level holiday party embarrassment and where you would like to be, there are endless ways that drinking too much of that free spiked punch can make you regret more than your hangover the next day.

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Overdrinking at parties is often caused by anxiety, but just makes matters worse. So do everything in your power to keep yourself at a two-drink maximum.

Beyond that, eating before you arrive, ordering a seltzer with lime if you don't want others to know you've cut yourself off, and not saying anything you wouldn't say to your boss if you passed him or her in the hall are smart limitations to set. This also includes asking for a raise, if they can hire your friend's son, putting someone on the spot about the health of the company or complaining about the lack of lumbar support in cubicle desk chairs.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: 10 Office Holiday Party Landmines to Avoid.

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