It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, you have that office holiday party on your schedule that you feel obligated to attend. Does anyone really like going to the office holiday party? What’s the point? Personally, it is the one Christmas event that I can definitely do without.
With all of the sexual harassment scandals that have been in the news this year, many companies are scaling down their office holiday party plans. In a recent survey, about 1 in 10 employers will not hold a holiday party this year and less than half of employers will provide alcohol.
Office holiday parties have often been a necessary obligatory event. It always seems like a necessary duty to “make an appearance” and then conduct a military exercise look for a good opportunity to leave unnoticed. Most of my experiences have been ones where I felt obligated to go and then wished I hadn’t.
I don’t do office parties. I go to my office to do my job, not to waste my time socializing with people I work with. Before you judge me to be a Scrooge, let me tell you that I used to attend and even plan these parties. I played the game and participated in office social outings. I finally learned that doing so only gave me more work to do – which was an unnecessary stress. I also have been very disappointed in how people behave especially when alcohol is involved. Being a good employee shouldn’t depend on how many parties you attend but many times the social butterfly is the one that gets all the accolades.
I once worked for an employer who required employees to attend the office Christmas party. The owner required it because he invited our biggest clients. It was beyond awkward as all the clients were interested in was the free alcohol that was being offered. Ridiculous. The employees were nothing more than servants to the clients. An employer should NEVER make attendance of an office holiday party mandatory.
When an office plans a holiday party, it should always include the spouse or significant other of the employee. I don’t think you should ever exclude them. The employees’ partner has no doubt heard venting about the office from you and this is perhaps the only time they get a chance to interact with them and see for themselves. It’s always a little awkward for the partners if the only conversation revolves around work. I think it’s important to keep work talk out of a holiday office party.
The office holiday planner or whoever is in charge of it should have some good advice on where to have the party. If you aren’t opening the party for children, don’t have it somewhere like Chuck E. Cheese. Offices should also avoid planning parties at a bar. You’re just asking for trouble there. There is also the option of NOT having one. It won’t be the end of the world.
Okay, so if you find yourself obligated to attend the office holiday party somehow, here are some survival tips:
- Avoid Alcohol if possible. Yes, I know some find this crazy. If you must, please do so very conservatively. There are too many possibilities for things to go wrong here when alcohol is mixed into an office holiday party.
- Dress Appropriately. Too many times people forget how to dress at these functions. Use some decency please.
- Introduce your partner. Don’t leave your partner on their own. You know these people, your partner does not.
- Make sure you speak to the boss. Don’t expect your boss to know you are there.
- Give good gifts. If you participate in some kind of gift exchange, make sure it is tasteful.
- Avoid the bad people. If someone doesn’t know how to behave, avoid them. Don’t subject yourself or your partner to them.
- Gossip-free Zone. This isn’t the place for office gossip.
- Easy Exit. When it’s time to go, there’s no need to announce it. Try to slide out quietly if possible.
It’s a good idea to avoid talking about politics, religion, sexual harassment scandals or office gossip. Keep it light and talk about things such as holiday plans, sports, hobbies and other interests.
Personally, I spent a majority of my time working with these people so I really don’t feel the need to make more time for them. The holidays are about family – not work peeps. If we seriously need eight survival tips for office holiday parties then maybe we shouldn’t have them.