As another stressful year winds to a close – A long, tense season – you’d think that at the office holiday party you could grab a glass of champagne, let your hair down and speak your mind. Don’t do it. The office fête is not a place for unrestrained chatter. It’s also not the place for personal confessions, or expressions of frustration, or giving an account of what you’d rather do with the company if you were in charge.

It’s surprising, yet true: People really need a few reminders on how to behave when business is mingled with pleasure. This is especially true if you’re a new employee or if you’re a manager trying show your best side at a holiday office-party.  Ideally, this means listening as much as one talks and  keeping conversations on safe topics like movies, hobbies and family – at all times deferring to one’s superiors.

The Importance of Staying Comfortable but Not Too Comfortable at Work Parties

Holiday parties are a great time to recognize employees for their accomplishments by providing them gifts or giving them crystal awards for achievements within the company.  Don’t outshine people who need the limelight, or hold some aspect of job security in their hands. The holiday party is a perfect time to build on relationships. On the flip side, don’t get into behaviors that could cause damage to those relationships.

More companies are serving alcohol at holiday office parties.  The perils of excessive alcohol consumption are well documented but the last thing you want is to bear the brunt of them at an office party.  The office party offers a unique opportunity to bond with superiors and colleagues. But if you know you’ll have trouble keeping things together, rather don’t attend.

Here are some useful pointers for your next office party:

1. Read The Invitation First:

Usually, the easiest way to know the type of occasion you’re attending is the invitation. Besides location, date and time, this will give you some idea of the level of formality and whether you can bring a guest. The time and location will do just that – and in that connection, it goes without saying that don’t want to bare too much skin or come bedecked like a Christmas tree. Tasteful additions like bright red suspenders for men and colorful pumps for women work well for getting one into the holiday spirit.

2.  Respect Your Colleagues’ Privacy

It’s best to ask your colleagues before snapping photographs of them with your iPhone. Some companies even resorted to banning phones from parties because of employees taking too many unwelcome pictures at unwelcome moments.

3.  Use the “Fridge-door” Test

Ask yourself if the photographs you’ve taken would be appropriate for the eyes of the entire office before you post them online – or for that matter, are they appropriate enough for your fridge door where your children will be able to see them.

4.  Drink, Sing and Dance With Moderation

A good rule of thumb here is to keep everything at PG-13. Offices are diverse environments, and while you might consider some of your colleagues prudish, they might take exception to your quips.

5.  Remember to Say Thank You 

A good way of thanking your employers is to write a thank-you note – not only your employers, but anyone who helped to organize the event.

6.  Don’t Whisper 

The problem with gossip is that it too often comes back to haunt you. Rather heed the advice of Lord Chesterfield to his son: Keep an open and friendly demeanor. Make it clear that you have nothing to hide.

7.  Know Your Limits

When it comes to drinking alcohol, everyone should be watching their intake. Set up a taxi service beforehand to make sure that everyone arrives home safely.

8.  Be Generous – Within Reason

Giving a gift to your boss or employees is a lovely gesture.  One of the best ways of doing this is by organizing a secret-Santa, or by contributing as a group towards a gift for your boss.