Having just recently attended a holiday office party myself, I know first-hand what to expect at the, “It’s a bad economy but lets have an office party anyway” holiday parties.  A small note of caution, prepare your self for the sad moods, and poorly timed company updates.   Having just moved back to the Raleigh area, this was my first business-type holiday party at company in this area, I had no idea what to expect.  Was this going to be a “be on your best behavior” party or a “cut-loose everyone is family” kind of party?  After all, it was an open bar!

As people arrived, everyone stayed crowded around the bar, which was right at the door. Nearing my set drink limit for the night (the drink limit I set for myself at occasions such as these) it was just about time for the, “are you ready to leave” discussion. I started to wrap-up conversations at our table when the announcement was made that the raffle would begin.  I decided to stick it out for a few more minutes.  Bad move.  After the raffle came and went one of the more senior staff members stood to thank everyone for coming and wanted to let everyone know the status of the company during these times.  The status of the company?  At this point, he might as well have shouted, “no one’s job is safe, thanks for coming to our lavish black-tie party that we technically can’t afford or could have used the money for holiday bonuses that you are going to need when we lay you off on Monday.”  He had single-handedly ruined the entire party.

Word of advice to anyone throwing a holiday party for employees this year…DON’T BE THIS GUY!  It is a holiday party, save the business talk for during the workweek and enjoy the people around you!

And for the few of you, like me, who sometimes don’t know what to expect at these business parties… some tips from the experts at Sinclair & Co.

  1. Even though it’s a party it’s still business, act accordingly but feel free to have a little fun!
  2. Eat AND drink in moderation.  Don’t overindulge but make sure you consume something so that you don’t appear to be snubbing the offerings.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions the week prior to the event.  Find out about the party atmosphere in year’s past, who is allowed to come and what the dress code is.  Just because it says black-tie doesn’t mean a nice suit and tie aren’t acceptable.
  4. If you are bringing a spouse or date, make sure to brief them on important company members and co-workers that they might be introduced to.  You don’t want them to say something embarrassing to the CEO!  They are, after all, a reflection on you.
  5. Try to mingle as much as possible.  Mingling doesn’t mean sitting at the same table, or talking to the same people in different areas of the room.  Try to talk to people standing in line to get food or drinks. Walk through the room at least once and say hi to people.

Happy Holidays!