Congratulations! You’ve landed your first real, not-an-internship-actually-getting-paid job and you are the literal talk of your town (thanks, Mom). But nothing worth having comes easy and you’ve experienced some growing pains over the last few months (you hung up on who?!). Don’t let your first office holiday party become another blip on your faux-pa radar. Follow our tips for surviving your first firm holiday party and get ready to see your gorgeous smile on the ‘Employee of the Month’ wall by year’s end.
What To Wear
More like what NOT to wear. Chances are, your job enforces a dress code for their employees and this requirement doesn’t go out the window just because someone insists on playing Jingle Bells on repeat all morning long. Keep your company policies in mind when planning your attire. Incorporate a bit of sparkle into your look with a bold patterned heel or statement-making dressy top.
Whether your weekday soiree is a long company lunch at a nearby restaurant or a potluck in the conference room an hour or two before quitting time, your party outfit should be something you’d be comfortable wearing to a regular staff meeting. It can get a bit trickier if your bosses are fancy and decide to spring for an actual nighttime venue. If this is the case then ask around and get the scoop from more seasoned professionals than yourself. If the event is immediately after work then chances are regular office dress code applies (or else feel the wrath of Teri in HR all night long).
If the event takes place a few hours after that proverbial whistle blows then you’re probably expected to make a costume change. A simple (but gorgeous) special occasion dress or fun jumpsuit is a great way to breathe a bit of fresh air into a potentially stuffy evening. Accentuate your classy look with some simple jewelry and get ready for that company small talk to get a lot more interesting.
To Drink or Not to Drink?
You and your cubicle crew have been through a lot together. From troubleshooting the printer from hell to insisting you’re “just in the bathroom” every time the boss walks by your suspiciously empty desk – it’s clear that you have each other’s backs. It’s great to have a work friend to help you through the monotony of the week but when it comes to imbibing on the company dime, don’t let your newfound friendship compromise your professionalism.
If alcohol is offered, it’s best to stick with the time-tested truism of ‘one and done’ – even if you consider your personal limit to be higher. Don’t let the term ‘party’ fool you – this is still a work event. Save your karaoke-level buzz for a Friday night with friends and stick with a single cocktail instead. If there is pressure to drink more than you can handle, then have the bartender slip you a mocktail. We know it’s not as much fun policing yourself at a party but you don’t want to take any chances when climbing that corporate ladder. After all, everyone loves partaking in water cooler gossip but nobody wants to be at the center of it.
Get Your Mingle On
So here’s the thing. Nobody likes small talk but it is essentially the cornerstone of every office party ever. Get ready to run the gambit with your conversation skills with topics like “where did you go to school?” and “how many dogs do you have?” to the potentially awkward “I had no idea potty training was so involved” TMI kind of chats.
If you’re nervous you won’t have enough to say to people, do some pre-party prep and think of one or two safe topics to bring up in polite conversation (more NBC fall lineup and less 2016 Presidential election). Fight the urge to talk business. It is a party after all and chances are everyone is more than ready to be off the clock. If you have the time, take note of the things your co-workers have on their desks such as pictures of their kids, pet calendars and bobble heads. These items are great clues into what they hold nearest and dearest and act as a perfect conversation starter in a pinch.
Play the Game(s)
It can be hard to loosen up around your coworkers but you don’t want to be the anti-social new girl in the corner blending in with the office ferns. Do yourself a favor and volunteer for whatever party games they have going on. They’ll probably be pretty mild in the embarrassment department and will let everyone know that you’re not one to shy away from a challenge – goofy or otherwise.
Never Underestimate the Power of a Thank You
As the evening draws to a close and all of the White Elephant gifts have been strategically stolen and re-stolen (don’t hate the player, hate the game), remember to thank the people who made this magical evening happen. No, we’re not talking about the caterers who looked the other way as you stuffed your face with bacon-wrapped shrimp.
Get some one-on-one time with your employers and thank them for not only a festive holiday party (even Teri from HR had a good time) but for giving you your beloved job in the first place. Not only will they appreciate the kind words, but your sincere thanks will make them remember you when it’s time to hand out those ‘big breaks’ everyone is always waiting for.