Friday, December 14, 2007

Office Party - a chance to let loose or work in disguise?

So everybody has office parties to go to right? (Not for me this year.) Do you enjoy them? Do your co-workers get out of control at these parties? Do you have horror stories to tell? Our company Christmas parties were always very enjoyable (I hope they resume giving them next year). I get to dress up and put on make up and feel all pretty and lady-like. And I love chatting with other girls about our dresses, shoes, bags and jewelry. That's my favorite part. It's also amusing to see people act unlike their normal selves after a few glasses of wine. Last year this girl from my floor who I always thought was demure and professional got really drunk, she was dancing with a wine bottle in her hand and her false eyelashes were dangling from the corners of her eyes! I think you should definitely enjoy the party, otherwise people will say you are a standoffish snob that doesn't know how to have fun, but probably shouldn't get drunk and spill wine on your boss. Even if you don't remember what happened the next day, your boss and co-workers will! This article says people should definitely follow some office party rules. And I want to know if you agree with them.

"This is not about getting together with friends to relax and revel in holiday spirit," said Liz Ryan, a human resources manager for 20 years and now CEO of WorldWIT, an online network for professional women based in Boulder, Colo. "This is a forced, artificial situation of good cheer," Ryan said. "You're at work with work people. Getting loose, getting real, don't apply."

Ryan, who has hosted "a zillion of these," encourages attendees who wish to survive them to focus more on "office" and less on "party."

"What you really want to display is your good breeding," she said. This means, among other helpful gems, "don't have sex in the coat room and don't throw up." In fact, Ryan thinks the best idea is to not drink at all. "Come looking professional, chit-chat with the higher-ups, sidle up to the CFO and say, 'Boy, it's really impressive what you guys are doing with receivables, and by the way my name is (blank) and I work in (blank).'

Eat, but not too much. Most office holiday parties include alcohol, so you'll want to eat something to soak it up. But don't hog the food table.

If you choose to drink, limit your intake. If you don't, your company will likely do it for you. "In our mail slots on Monday morning," said House, witness to the Husbands Behaving Badly disaster, "were typewritten apologies addressed to all staff from each of the culprits," she said. "Our two co-workers were understandably humiliated and hid in their offices all day amidst much whispering and conjecturing."

But making a fool of yourself might actually be the best thing that happens if you drink too much.

Getting in your car and driving, or leaping into a hotel pool, could be deadly for you or someone else, and could cause heartache and liability for your company.

Dress appropriately. If you're coming from work, business attire is fine. If coming from home, don't confuse "festive" with flesh-tive. Avoid spaghetti-strap dresses and minis, unbuttoned shirts, and other clubbing attire. Ask yourself: Would I wear this to work? If not, don't wear it to an office party.

Ask if spouses and kids are invited. You don't want to be the only one showing up with a tired toddler, and your spouse sure doesn't want to be the only nonemployee.

Don't hog the boss. Yes, you're fascinating, and you are going to save the company, and your boss needs to know it, but a few minutes of captivating small talk can speak volumes.

Be discreet if the party will continue elsewhere. For younger employees especially, work is a semi-social environment with lots of hooking up happening.

"But if you get to the party and it appears you're going to leave with someone," Ryan pleads, "can you please do it discreetly?"

Finally, thank the host. This will definitely set you apart from the crowd.

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