For many employees, this is one of the few chances they get to mix and mingle with coworkers from other departments or office locations. To make sure the party is a success and there are no “oops” and regrets afterwards, it’s a good idea to follow certain rules and keep in mind that, even though it is a party, it is still a work event.

Should Everyone Attend the Office Party?

Many companies typically spend a significant amount of money to throw their annual holiday party. Some even organize a kids’ party as well as an adult party. While parties are not mandatory, it is recommended to attend, unless there is a very good reason for not being there, such as being ill or out of town. Attendance is one way to thank the organizers for their effort and the management for approving the required investment. Plus, chances are it’s going to be a lot of fun to hang out with colleagues and talk about subjects other than work.

Can Significant Others Join the Party?

Before bringing a significant other along, check with the party organizers to make sure spouses are invited. Typically, smaller companies invite spouses or significant others to join. Larger companies, however, may choose to limit the participation to employees only due to the costs involved.

What to Wear? The Little Black Dress or Something Else?

Depending on the venue and the timing of the event, dress codes may vary quite a bit, ranging from casual to elegant. If the event takes place after work, at a hotel or club, the attire should be more elegant, such as a cocktail dress or suit, the little black dress or even a long gown. If the event takes place during the day or right after work, business attire is acceptable. For more casual events and locations (for example, a cabin in the mountains), the attire can also be more informal, such as a nice pair of jeans paired with a stylish top, sweater or shirt.

Whatever the outfit, it should reflect well on the person professionally. The office party is not the time to show up in a revealing outfit or sportswear.

Topics for the Office Party

The office party is an opportunity to socialize, mix and mingle, build upon existing relationships, as well as meet new people. Discussion topics can range based on people’s interests and current events. For example, they can include:

  • Holiday plans, including exciting travel offers and destinations
  • The weather (always a favourite)
  • Current and past TV shows
  • Favourite holiday movies
  • Good books to read while on holiday
  • Holiday gift ideas, new gadgets, etc.
  • Interesting worldwide events

While there are many things people can talk about, there are also a few things to avoid at an office party. These include:

  • Making inappropriate comments and jokes
  • Monopolizing discussions
  • Talking too much about oneself
  • Complaining and gossiping about other colleagues and one’s boss
  • Engaging in heated discussions about sensitive topics others may feel uncomfortable about, such as politics or religion

Drinking – How Much Is too Much?

Regardless of where and when the event takes place, it is always best to drink in moderation. Alcohol and business usually don’t mix too well, and this is not the place to try every drink on the menu. People do like observing others after hours, and they will remember who said and did what, and how different their after-hours persona is from their professional one. Unfortunately, many people end up lowering their inhibitions after a few drinks, which often results in embarrassing moments that become part of the office’s “best and worst office party stories.” Not a good idea!

Don’t Drink and Drive

While having a few drinks is absolutely acceptable, it is important to remember not to drink and drive. Many companies offer taxi chits at the end of the party, which is a great way to make sure the evening does end well for everyone. Others organize car pools to help people get to their destination safe and sound. Whatever the arrangements are, think about it well in advance to make sure a plan is in place.

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