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Tis the Season: What to Expect at Your First Office Christmas Party


Like most college students home for winter break, I can admit that I have been watching a scarily large amount of Netflix. When I’m not reminiscing with old episodes of Gilmore Girls, I can’t help but watch all the Christmas movies. The cheesier, the better, until I found Office Christmas Party. I guess I was living under a rock last winter because I honestly had never heard of it, but all I could think about while watching it was whose office Christmas party is actually like this?

I was scared to wear a V-neck wrap dress to my first one (welcome to the world of finance) let alone do any of the things that occurred during this movie. While I highly recommend watching it if you’re in the mood to laugh, I don’t recommend expecting your first office party to be anything like it. Whether you’re a Christmas party veteran or virgin, it’s never a bad time to brush up on the dos and don’ts of holiday party etiquette:

Side note: remember that company cultures may differ from one another and some of these suggestions may apply more than others

DO: Go!

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, holiday parties can be exhausting and it’s understandable that you may not want to spend more time with your coworkers outside of work. However, this is the time where unless you have very important plans, you should try to go. Don’t be a Grinch! People — at least your boss — will notice if you aren’t there. Office holiday parties, and winter break in general, are the perfect opportunity to show off your communication and interpersonal skills. Network, network, network.

DON’T: Be Overly ~Festive~

Save your sexy Santa outfit or over-the-top onesie for any other occasion; — seriously, any other occasion. Invitations will typically have some sort of dress code, even if it’s the vague business casual. If your invitation says something you’ve never heard of like resort casual, check out this list from the etiquette experts at The Spruce that breaks down every dress code. A good rule is to choose something you would be comfortable wearing to work. This is also a great time to consult your work BFF about what they’re wearing.

Related: A Senior’s Guide to Getting Your Sh*t Together: Resumes, Cover Letters, & Job Applications

DO: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Let’s start with the question that everyone asks before their first office event: Can I drink? Thankfully, yes — as long as you are of legal age, you can. Woo for champagne! But this isn’t the time to take advantage of an open bar. You don’t want to walk in on Monday and worrying that you said or did something you shouldn’t have, or worse, have no memories of what went down.

Career experts at The Muse recommend sticking to a two drink maximum. While this is typically the universal standard for office events, know yourself and your limits.

DON’T: Spill the Eggnog

As much as I hate to admit it, we all love a little bit of gossip, but the work Christmas party is not the time to talk to your coworkers about how Susan from Accounting and Charlie from Marketing got together. Even more importantly, this is definitely not the time to complain about your job. I’m sorry if you hate it there, but please, please, please do not let that be known right now. Even if you’re planning on leaving, you still want a good recommendation and some bad words at the party will be remembered a lot more than all the hard work you put in. Save the tea, or eggnog, for brunch with your friends. Instead of gossiping, use the party as an opportunity to schmooze with executives you may not normally get to talk to. Introduce yourself to the CEO. Be the boss babe you know you are.

DO: WWJGD (What Would Joanna Gaines Do)

If there’s anything I’ve learned from Fixer Upper— besides that shiplap literally looks good on everything — it’s that being a hostess is hard. Remember this when coming to the party. While it may seem obvious, you want to making hosting as easy for the host as you would want it to be for yourself. One of the first things you’ll want to find out is if you’re allowed to bring a guest or not. It’s always better to ask than assume as there may be a set amount of food available. In terms of timing, experts at The Spruce recommend showing up around 15 minutes after the party has started, unless it’s a sit-down dinner, and leaving the party when you start seeing other guests starting to say their goodbyes. As far as a host gift, it’s always nice to bring a little something like a bottle of wine or some homemade Christmas cookies. If you’re still living on that college budget and these are out of reach (I feel you, girlie), you can bring a holiday card with a handwritten thank you to give to the host at the end of the night. Lastly, make sure you say goodbye to the host when you leave and that you thank them! When in doubt, ask yourself: What would Joanna Gaines do?

Your first office holiday party is always going to be a little scary whether you love your job or you hate it. No matter how nervous you are, just remember that these kind of events are supposed to be fun and build morale. It’s the most wonderful time of year and spending it with coworkers and bosses is a great way to spread some holiday spirit. And, at the bare minimum, you’re at least going to get some free food out of it.

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