Apparently the holiday season means everyone tries to tell you how to act. First, there was the "how to escape at holiday parties" debacle, and now, I came across an article about holiday party dos and don'ts, which lists five in each category. Last week I had my company holiday party, and I feel like I stuck to the rules pretty well.
...bring an uninvited guest.
Smaller parties may mean that spouses and partners are not included in the festivities, even if they have been in years past. Whitmore says, "If you're not sure if you can bring a guest, you should definitely ask. If it's not indicated that a guest is invited, be polite and honor that request."
--Technically aren't all guests uninvited? Otherwise they would have been invited. This is a non sequitur and therefore should be ignored.
Whitmore, author of "Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work," says: "One of my pet peeves is when I see people drink too much at parties. It's still an extension of the office, so you should act in a professional manner. You don't want to be the topic of conversation at the water cooler on Monday morning." Also, she reminds revelers not to put anyone on the spot by asking why another guest is abstaining from alcohol. "We live in a health-conscious society. It's a personal choice," she states.
--Do shots count as overindulging? In my defense, I was doing shots alone at the end of the bar, so as not to cause a stir.
Keep business discussions very brief. "If you've got spouses and partners in the conversation, they often won't have any idea what you're going on about, so you're just being a bore," she says. Remember, too, that this is down time. "Don't burden a coworker with your problems. Leave the office at the office," counsels Whitmore.
--Well then what the fuck am I supposed to talk about? Work is the only thing I have in common with these people.
...gossip or tell off-color jokes.
People tend to be a little more relaxed at office parties, and if they have a few drinks they may say things they normally would not. She urges employees, "Be mindful of what you say -- the jokes, the comments. We're human. We want to have fun, but be mindful that it's a company event. There's still a level of professionalism you must maintain."
--This wasn't a problem, since dead baby jokes have become so passé by this point that they're not considered off-color, even when you grab the mic from the office manager to tell fifteen dead baby jokes in a row before being escorted off the premises for some reason. But you can't fuck a rock. And as far as gossip, when co-workers get all shit hammered, who doesn't want to know who's banging who at the office?
...bring a guest if you can.
Whitmore, who has offices in New York and Palm Beach, says, "I think it's a good idea to bring a guest if you can. It gives people a better idea of who you are as a person. Your colleagues get to see another side of your life -- and you theirs."
--I brought my concubine. I figured it would let people see that I'm keeping a hot eighteen-year-old woman from nineteenth-century China.
...get to know your boss and your boss's boss.
Use the office party as an opportunity to rub elbows with executives at your company with whom you don't usually interact. She points out, "You can't always get close to senior executives or partners at the office because they're so busy, but in a social environment, they're more open to small talk." She recommends introducing yourself on a personal level and asking about hobbies or interests. "This is a key opportunity. Take advantage of it," she adds.
--I did get to know my boss a little bit better because I learned how he responds to incoherent yelling and having pint glasses full of vomit launched at him from across a crowded room. At least I will know how he responds once he gets out of that coma. And I think one of my female bosses and I made a pretty big connection when I told her, "I heard you don't have any kids because you're barren, but that's cool, 'cause kids can be a hassle. Think about Dennis the Menace, or Heathcliff, for that matter. I guess cats can be a hassle, too!"
"My biggest pet peeve is when I see people dressed provocatively at office parties!" Whitmore says. "This is an extension of the office. It's not the time to wear the dress with the slit up to your hip." Wear something a bi[t] more festive than you might wear to work, but, she adds, "Make it more conservative than what you would wear to a nightclub. Keep an air of professionalism in mind when you choose your attire."
--So I shouldn't have worn my kilt, Oilers helmet, and t-shirt that says, "Consider my pubic hair the mistletoe and my penis my lips"?
...keep things light and fun.
There's a lot of gloom and doom in the news as of late -- and perhaps at your company as well. Try to banish the dark clouds for the duration of the party with a sunny attitude. Advises Whitmore, "It's tough for people to stay away from these topics because that's all we hear all day long. But it can bring everybody's mood down." Focus on positive events and the spirit of the season to avoid ruining the party for your colleagues.