It’s coming. The changing weather, the winter tires, the bulky sweaters – all sinister precursors to the true horrors of Secret Santas and office holiday parties where the underlying goal is to make everything as Christmasy as possible without using the word Christmas. We’re talking evergreen trees and poinsettias, mistletoe and candy canes. Becky the receptionist is going to circulate flyers for an ugly Christmas sweater day and Jerry from IT is going to strap a pillow around his stomach and play Santa while adults in the room giggle with glee.
In reality, my team is pretty freaking awesome and hanging out with them outside the office is a good time to me, but in theory, I totally feel your pain. Honest. And as that super awkward holiday party looms for you, I know it will take a special amount of strength and guidance to resist the urge to hibernate through the holidays and resurface sometime around January 3. Here’s hoping these three guidelines help you to navigate a little better than that.
1. Try not to talk about work.
I know some people use the holiday party as a networking opportunity to talk up their accomplishments and aspirations to the higher ups on the corporate lawyer, but this isn’t about your phenomenal 4th quarter, this is about free food and drinks. Relax! And more importantly, let your colleagues relax too. Besides, sometimes dazzling the room with your personality and not your stats is the best type of networking there is.
2. Go easy on the open bar.
Remember that girl who had a little too much last year and ended up karaoking into the lobby plants and now everyone calls her Barefoot Brenda? Don’t be her. Watching embarrassing videos of yourself on Jason from accounting’s Snapchat the next morning is sure to put a kink in those plans for growth and security. The goal here is to schmooze with grace and elegance. I’m a lightweight myself, so I get by with sparkling water and cranberry juice (and no one knows the difference), but chances are you can hold your alcohol better than me. Just pace yourself, make sure you’re eating and not drinking on an empty stomach, and try to chase every cocktail with a glass of water. Making the most out of an open bar could spell disaster for future plans. Be responsible.
3. Glam it up!
This is no time for a power suit. How often do you get to show your colleagues the stone cold glamazon they’ve been working with for the last four quarters? Don’t go overboard (unless your office parties call for black tie at an opera hall, you’re probably okay to skip the floor length ball gown), but a sparkly gold lid or some sequins in your choice of dress could very well send the same message.
At the end of the day, if nothing else, a holiday party is a good time to get together with your team and show appreciation to each other for all of the late nights, project deadlines, and lunch meetings you’ve all had to endure over the last year. So put on some red lipstick and smile through it! Be effortlessly charming, be unforgettable!
Oh, but stay away from the mistletoe.