The do’s and don’ts of holiday party etiquette (even virtual ones)

Virtual or not, the office holiday party is heading your way. This is something that is more than likely a mandatory event for all employees to attend unless you’re clever enough to come up with an excuse that gets you out of it without fear or guilt.

These types of gatherings can range from a lavish soiree held at a fancy hotel all the way to dancing around to “Last Christmas” while eating that second piece of cake in the break room of your building.

The 2020 version of what a holiday party is has a whole new meaning thanks to COVID however there are still several rules in play that one should do to make it through the night.

So without further ado, here are four do’s and don’t’s for anyone going to one of these extravaganzas over the next couple of weeks.

Do: Appear interested throughout. Even though this is meant to be a relaxing evening you are still technically on the clock. Always make sure that you are engaging in an appropriate manner with the people around you and don’t give off a vibe that you want to get the heck out of there.

This includes immersing yourself in lively conversations with your colleagues, talking with your boss or management about neutral topics, and maybe even helping set the whole thing up. 

Don’t: Talk about controversial things. Unless you’re living under a rock you should know that not everyone is going to agree with you on everything. So those neutral topics discussed above fit into this category of don’ts as it wouldn’t be good for you to bring up stuff that could cause some serious awkwardness between you and your coworkers. Who is your favorite music artist? Good. What did you think about the election? Bad. Very bad. 

Do: Dress to impress. The area of fashions when it comes to holiday parties have a lot of meanings to them. If it’s an ugly sweater party then proudly rock the most hideous one you can find. If the event calls for business casual then find an ensemble that’s the perfect line between dressing up and appearing relaxed.

Your office throwing a holiday-themed party? Find an outfit that is eye-popping but not overdoing it. Bottom line is to command attention but in the right way.

Don’t: Drink too much. Many of us enjoy a delicious cocktail or beer whenever the mood strikes. These types of beverages are readily available at most holiday office parties (and are usually free as well). The goal here is to not only pace yourself but know when to stop. No one, I repeat no one, wants to be the office drunk. And if you become this person then it could mean serious grounds for suspension or termination if you say the wrong thing or do something is seen as offensive or vulgar while there.

Do: Pay attention to your arrival and departure time. Sure, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) in The Devil Wears Prada can get away with showing up to a place for 15 minutes before bailing but you more than likely can’t. Be prompt with your arrival and read the room when it comes to knowing when to leave.

You don’t want to be the topic of conversation around the water cooler (or in modern times, Slack chats) about being the person who tried to sneak out of the party/Zoom gathering a little too early.

Don’t: Look at your phone all night. This sort of goes hand in hand with the first do. It shows a huge lack of respect for your colleagues and management if you are constantly looking at your phone for whatever reason need be.

Unless it is something related to work then try to keep your cell in your pocket. Otherwise only check it during solo ventures like going outside for a breath of fresh air or one of your many trips to the bathroom that evening. 

Do: Cook or bake something. If the holiday party is a potluck based then this sort of thing is mandatory. But something as simple as cooking or baking something delicious for your team to enjoy can really go a long way for you at your job especially if you are trying to get a raise or promotion. Bon Appetit!