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Office holiday party etiquette

Holiday party invitations have been showing up in my e-mail.

A few are personal, but most are work related -- clients who are having get-togethers, professional associations hosting happy hours, trade groups trying to spend up that entertainment line item so they'll get the same budget amount next year.

I'm going to most. A few I really want to attend. Others, as a small businesswoman, I need to attend. 

Note to any of you hosts out there who are reading this: You know that your event is one that I really, really want to be at!

Office_christmas_party_cartoon2_2 I couldn't always say that when I worked in an office and the annual festivities rolled around.

Most days, after I did my eight hours confined to the cube, I just wanted to go home. I did not want to spend more time with coworkers who already had been on my last nerve.

And I sure didn't want to listen to the same predictable rah-rah speeches by the big bosses. Just give me my Christmas bonus and leave me alone! (Are you starting to get understand now why I decided to start my own business after we moved back to Texas!?)

A few times I blew off the party. A few times I did the career-correct thing and went.

If you're having the same debate with yourself this December and you do decide to make an appearance at your office party, here are five tips to help you make the most of the event:

1. Eat in moderation.
You don't want to look like a pig. In fact, eat before you go. That'll keep you from monopolizing the buffet. And it will help in case the finger foods aren't appealing. If that's the case, you'll be glad you had a pre-party snack because you definitely don't want to be imbibing on an empty stomach. Which leads us to ...

2. Drink in moderation.
Most parties include alcohol, but that doesn't mean you have to act like it's your first college outing after getting your legal ID. Know your booze limit and stay well below it so that you don't say or do something you -- and everyone else there -- will regret.

3. Dress suitably.
Yes, it's a party and yes it's after work hours, but business attire (or biz casual) still is the smart apparel choice.

4. Network appropriately.
An office party can be a perfect place to touch base with someone within the company with whom you work or hope to work and let them see another, personal, positive side of you. But don't  overdo it. It is a party, after all, and not everyone wants to spend the time talking shop. And an overeager schmoozer is as bad as a Scrooge. And speaking of which ...

5. Put on your party face.
If you've made the decision to attend, then do so in the proper holiday spirit. No one likes an office grump, and they especially don't want to listen to him or her bad-mouthing a party.

These tips were culled from/inspired by Power Up! Blog (the PUB),, Business Etiquette for Dummies (via Barbara Weltman) and Career Planning. Be sure to check out the links for more office holiday party etiquette.

Job hunting help from the IRS: If you do commit an office party faux pas or simply decide that it's time to escape your cubicle, then put job hunting at the top of your New Year's resolution list.

Myriad blogs -- Get That Job, Secrets of the Job Hunt and Guerrilla Job Hunting to name just three -- offer assistance in your search for the next perfect place of employment.

Uncle Sam also can help you out, too. Many job search costs are deductible. Details in this story.


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Hi Kay,
Happy holidays. Enjoy the parties.

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