Surviving the Office Holiday Party

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

I’ll be the first to admit that I love this time of year (aside from the lines at the airports). People tend to be in better spirits, and I get a brief respite from my business travels to spend quality time with family and friends. For most folks, this month also brings many festivities, including the company’s year-end holiday party.

I’ve attended many office holiday celebrations, from casual luncheons to more formal affairs. And it seems that no matter the setting, at least one person pulls an embarrassing “party foul,”  although perhaps none as egregious as  the following real-life examples of wacky behavior advertising and marketing executives said they’ve observed at company events in a recent survey:

  • “An employee threw his coworker in a lagoon!”
  • “A person rode naked on a Ferris wheel.”
  • “We caught an employee going through everyone’s desk while we were partying.”
  • “My coworkers were competing on the dance floor to see who could do the best moves. It turned into a fight and they both were let go for inappropriate behavior.”

Don’t get me wrong: Company parties are a time to have fun and socialize with colleagues. But it’s important to exhibit poise and good judgment, no matter how spontaneous or casual the celebration may seem. As such, here are four tips to make a positive impression at your upcoming office soirees:

  1. Stick to your limit. Most people know that too many cocktails at a work function is a recipe for disaster. Yet, that doesn’t stop some from overindulging. Limit your alcohol intake, and don’t pressure others who choose to abstain.
  2. Avoid business topics. Parties are supposed to be fun and relaxing, so squash the shoptalk. Discussing industry trends is one thing, but tracking down colleagues to discuss an upcoming deadline is another.
  3. Mix it up. Strike up conversations with those outside of your usual circle, including the higher-ups. Think beforehand about a few topics that are of broad interest, such as recent books, mobile apps or movies that have come out or holiday vacation plans.
  4. Wrap up on a high note. Don’t be the first or last to leave the party. When departing, be sure to thank your host and those who worked on the event. Sending an email or handwritten thank-you note to your host is another way to show your appreciation.

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design and marketing professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at