How do you navigate your work's holiday party?

Today’s business world can be really confusing- especially in social settings. What is the protocol for office events? Are they mandatory? What about when alcohol is involved? All of these topics and more are discussed in our Recruiter Roundtable series, where we invite a diverse group of Sales Talent Agents to share their ideas and debate the topics important to you.

Today’s topic is “How do you navigate your work’s holiday party?”

Clockwise: Dan, Danielle, Sheila (host), Brittany, Chelsea, Bana. Not pictured: Meredith, Nico, Emily

Clockwise: Dan, Danielle, Sheila (host), Brittany, Chelsea, Bana. Not pictured: Meredith, Nico, Emily

Sheila (our host): Today’s scenario: you’re bracing yourself for your work holiday party. How do you balance having fun and being professional?

Nico: The first thing that I am going to say is that I think you have to be comfortable with the decisions that you make. The question I always ask myself is: am I going to wake up tomorrow and regret anything I did? This is the same mentality I have when I go out with my friends.

Sheila: So I think you’re alluding to how much you drink, right Nico? What are everyone else’s thoughts.

Dan: I’m scared of getting drunk at the party so I really pace myself.

Bana: To second that, I always try and be more aware when I am at a work function. I don’t drink as much as I normally would. At the end of the day you want to be perceived as professional when you come back into the office on Monday. You can have fun but I’d reconsider that last drink.

Sheila: What are some tips for not kicking yourself come Monday?

Bana: One tip is to watch the leadership team at the holiday party and gauge what is appropriate from there.  

Chelsea: I just graduated from university. I’ve never been to a work Christmas party ever. I know a lot of the scouts are the same. I’m sure a lot of us will be really careful to not be that new person who’s just going off the rails who’s too drunk and uncontrollable.

Sheila: So to everyone who has never been to our holiday party, what does success look like to you? What are you hoping to get out of going to our holiday party.

Brittany: “Hey, I work here”

(everyone laughs)

Danielle: I think I want to use it as a chance to bond with everyone. Get to know everyone.

Bana: As someone who has worked here for years I also try and be opportunistic about getting to know people that you work with. I especially think it’s a great opportunity to engage with the leadership team that you don’t directly interact with on a daily basis.

Meredith: And even if you do engage with leadership regularly you can still work to further that relationship. That said, I don’t think you should corner your boss and ask for a raise or promotion. Definitely not an appropriate platform to have those discussions.

Sheila: What are some appropriate talking points with your boss?

Nico: Vacation plans. Christmas- great go to. What are you getting for Christmas. All safe bets.

Meredith: I think it’s also healthy to reflect on your year you’ve had. Obviously you’ve had ups and downs. Just say ‘It’s been a great year. Thank so much for your leadership’. Acknowledge they are the healm of everything you’ve been doing for the last year.

Chelsea: And I imagine work’s naturally going to come up, especially at the end of the quarter. We all work closely as a team so some personal stuff may come up as well.

Meredith: On that personal note, introduce your plus one!

Emily: But don’t bring your new Tinder date.

(Everyone laughs)

Sheila: Agreed. Now, here’s a question. What do you wear?

Meredith: Something festive and something dressier than you would normally wear on a day to day. Something that is more formal and less business. It’s an occasion. You don’t have to show up in a blazer and a pencil skirt, but of course if that’s what you're comfortable with, that’s fine too. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is any piece of skin that you wouldn’t feel comfortable showing in the office- you shouldn’t show. I wouldn’t wear a crop top to work so therefore I wouldn’t wear to the office party.

Dan: What about for guys?

Bana: I think jeans and a nice dress shirt. Keep it simple. Keep it casual.

Emily: I’d go for a suit.

Nico: Agreed. I dress to impress.

Meredith: It all comes down to your preference so long as you’re not crossing any line.

Sheila: And a tip for that is if you’re questioning something, just move onto another outfit.

Sheila: So let’s say you do go over the top, or you wear the wrong outfit. How do you recover come Monday?

Nico: Unless you do something horrendous you are not going to be scarred forever. You can recover. If you do get a little too drunk, you can learn for next time.

Meredith: The only time it will rub people the wrong way is if you’re making the same mistake one too many times.

Sheila: With that kind of risk, would it be easiest just not to go?

Nico: 100% you should go.

Bana: It’s a silly opportunity to miss out on. Even on my maternity leave I made it to the party!

Brittany: I am obviously excited to go but I’ll be honest that this is intimidating for me. Two weeks into the job… I don’t really know anyone… Do I just stand around… who do I talk to?

Dan: You’re also at a Christmas party with people who talk for a living.

Emily: ...And have made 7 new friends doing this Roundtable, so you’re golden.

(everyone laughs)

Sheila: So you’re at the party… are you early or are you late?

Dan: I was first there last year.

Nico: I would say fashionably late.

Sheila: How late?

Nico: ...5 or 10 minutes late. 8:30, 8:35. You have to walk in so everyone looks at you. No one looks at the first person

Dan: I can vouch for that.

Sheila: But if you’re late you’ll miss the food!

Meredith: Oh yes, don’t ignore the buffet.

Nico: Eat some food before too, especially if you’re drinking.

Sheila: On that note if you’ve been heavily drinking, when is it time to leave?

Bana: When you take your heels off it’s time to leave.

Brittany: If there’s less than 5 people on the dance floor or that last shot isn’t sitting well with you, it’s time to leave.

Meredith: Don’t over or under stay your welcome. It’s all about balance. Also keep the venue in mind. If the party is at a public place, fine. If it’s at your boss's house- be respectful of that.

Sheila: Thanks Meredith for the final point and thanks to everyone who contributed today- this concludes another Recruiter Roundtable!

Our tips:

  • Be opportunistic with the leadership team
  • It is okay to arrive 5 minutes late, but not 30
  • Expand your network… don’t be cliquey
  • Follow the leaders on alcohol volume (never drink more than they do)
  • Dress to impress, not to attract
  • Eat before and during the party
  • Be thankful to those around you, but don’t be a sycophant
  • Choose your plus one wisely