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When I began my job, it somehow came out that I am sort of a party planning pro. It was probably due to the extensive list of sorority positions on my résumé, and I soon found myself in charge of all the corporate events at my small investment firm, from the day after Thanksgiving pizza party to the summer barbecue to the politically correct secret snowflake gift exchange. However, the biggest of all of the events I get to plan is the company holiday party. It’s a big formal affair, usually in a hotel ballroom (although last year, in a weird position of having an unlimited budget due to a good year, I rented out a major league ballpark and it was amazing) with an open bar, a sit-down dinner, and a dance floor. It’s basically a wedding without the ceremony bullshit.
After having planned this soirée for the last few years and remaining sober during it since I’m in charge and have to be at least semi-functional, I’ve seen a lot of things. I can tell you that, as an attendee, there are certain behaviors that you probably shouldn’t engage in if you expect to still have your job on Monday morning. Therefore, in the interest of helping you make sure that you keep your job, here is a guide to attending your company’s holiday party (and not making an ass of yourself).
An open bar does not give you carte blanche to get blackout drunk.
There are no two words in the English language that I love more than “open bar.” I’ve RSVPed no to weddings of friends simply because they were going to have a cash bar, because I don’t need to be friends with cheap bastards. But one of the few times you shouldn’t go hard at the open bar is at your company’s holiday party. While your painfully low paycheck can make it tempting to stick it to ‘em by drinking your weight in whiskey, what typically ensues afterward isn’t exactly work-appropriate behavior. Even though you aren’t officially on the clock, the last thing your company’s CEO wants to see is you curled up on a banquet table in a bourbon-induced slumber.
If you bring a date, make sure he or she knows how to behave.
If you aren’t in a relationship, the issue of whether or not to bring a date to the corporate holiday party can be a tricky one. You don’t want to bring someone you don’t know well, because A) you don’t want to have to entertain him or her and B) this person is a wild card when it comes to how he or she will behave. If you are unsure on either front, it’s perfectly acceptable to fly solo. If you do bring a date, whether it’s your significant other or some random you picked up on Tinder last week, be sure this person knows all the social norms of your company, like that your boss doesn’t like to make eye contact when he speaks or that the receptionist has a spitting lisp, so it’s best stand a bit farther away than normal.
Follow the dress code.
Showing up underdressed to this type of event can make you look like a moron; being overdressed can make you look like you’re trying too hard. If the invitation doesn’t specifically state a dress code, ask someone who’s been around for a while what people typically wear. Also, a word of advice for the ladies: unless you want to be known as the office skank, too much leg, butt, and/or boobs will do you no favors.
When it comes to dancing, take it easy.
By all means, please dance. I paid a shit-ton of money for that DJ. The last thing you need is some sort of Elaine Benes scenario on your hands. Also, treating the dance floor like a Ginuwine video is generally frowned upon. Leave room for Jesus.
Let’s try to keep it clean and not look like you are having some kind of spasm, okay?
When I ask for your feedback, don’t actually give it to me.
Each year after the party, I send an email asking for my coworkers’ feedback about the evening. The thing is, I don’t really want it. I don’t give a shit if you thought the chicken was dry or if the DJ didn’t have the obscure early 2000s hip hop song you absolutely needed to hear. You spent the night at a party that cost the firm tens of thousands of dollars, and it took me months to plan and you didn’t spend a dime. Keep your damn opinions to yourself and respond with a simple, “It was awesome! Thanks so much!” Then maybe I won’t tell your boss that you drank so much that you puked in the potted plant in the corner of the ballroom. Deal?.