Holiday parties are a great opportunity to spend time with coworkers, but you still have to be on your best behavior.
The choices people make at the party carry over to the workday, and can impact their careers.
That doesn't mean you should skip the party — make an appearance, talk to your coworkers, and drink responsibly.
'Tis the season for office holiday parties, which can be fun and festive if everyone is on their best behavior — or disastrous when too many people decide to let loose.
Unfortunately, the latter happens far too often.
"People need to remember that although the holiday party is a time to celebrate, this activity is still a business event and how you behave matters," says Barbara Pachter, an etiquette expert and the author of "The Essentials of Business Etiquette."
"People have said and done all sorts of inappropriate things that have impacted their career by not following simple etiquette rules," she adds. "For example, it is important to stay sober. One young man got drunk at his holiday party, cursed out his boss, and got fired on the spot. The next day he couldn't understand why his badge didn't work. He had no recollection of the previous evening's events."
According to a new CareerBuilder survey, a whopping 69% of employers say they'll throw a holiday party this year. If your company is one of them and you want to keep your job and reputation intact, here are some simple etiquette rules to follow:
1. Don't skip it
Unless you already have other plans that night that you absolutely cannot miss or change, show up to the office holiday party.
"You may not want to go," says Pachter, but it's important that you show your commitment to the company.
"Your absence will be noticed, and most likely, noted by your boss and other higher ups," she adds.
2. Don't be the first to leave
Obviously someone has to be the first to leave. But for the same reason that you shouldn't skip the holiday party altogether — it's good for your career to show your face — you should avoid being the first one saying their goodbyes.
3. Don't forget to prepare your guest or significant other
Many times significant others are included or you're allowed to bring a guest.
Let them know about appropriate dress and topics of conversation to stay away from, says Pachter. Also, make sure your guest follows all the rules: "His or her behavior will reflect on you."
4. Don't dress inappropriately
The party may not take place during traditional work hours — but that doesn't mean you should dress like you're going to a nightclub.
You should wear clothing you wouldn't be embarrassed to wear to work, but, since it's a special occasion, it's fine to take it up one notch — just don't go over the top.
"It is a party, but your attire needs to be suitable for a business event, not a nightclub. Don’t wear anything that is too short, too tight, too low, or too anything," advises Pachter.
Also, if you normally wear a suit to work, don't show up to the office party in jeans and a T-shirt — or a Hello Kitty onesie.
5. Don't look bored
Watch your body language. Appearing bored or like you'd rather be anywhere else is just as bad as not showing up.
"Don’t frown, slouch, cross arms, or yawn. You never know who might be observing you," she says.
6. Don't be antisocial
Even if you despise your coworkers — hopefully you don't, but if you do, it might be time to assess your situation — or if you're new and don't know many people, don't sit in a corner alone or keep your eyes glued to your phone the whole night.
"Schmooze," Pachter suggests. "Talk to people you know and don't know. The party is an opportunity to meet people. Don't spend your time tweeting or texting. Make sure you mingle."