December 5, 2011
Someone says, “The office Christmas party is next week!” You think, “Bring on the booze!”…and we have a problem. I really don’t know the origin of this idea that the office Holiday/Christmas party should be a near-orgy, booze fest but I’m pretty sure the cast of Mad Men is to blame. Be that as it may, we don’t all have to succumb to the tequila and free for all thinking. In fact, if you play your cards right, this year’s Holiday/Christmas/Kwanzaa party could be a strategic success story for you and your career. I’m here to help you navigate your way through this
minefield party. Watch and learn.
What to Wear
Yes, the hottie from the mail room will be in attendance at the party. But no (please God, no) this does not mean you should wear your hoochie-fied Vegas outfit to get his attention. Keep in mind the other 200 or so guests, some of whom may have the clout to get you a better, higher paying job. That is if you don’t blind them with your cleavage in that itty bitty dress first....
Here are some options for suitable Holiday/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah party outfits:
How to Drink
So, they have turned the copy room into a wet bar and the free alcohol is flowing…everywhere. You are itching to do a round of shots with Phillip from accounting just ‘cause he dared you to. But before you do that, do me a favor. Close your eyes and envision all the pictures your co-workers are gonna take of you doing the dougie on your boss’s desk once you get blitzed. Envision the embarrassment you are going to feel when HR calls you the next day and asks you to explain the photo copies of your butt, signed by you, and left all over the lunch room. Then think about how you will feel when people tell you that you got on the mic and demanded a raise from your idiot boss. In those words. Now, open your eyes and just say no. Keep it classy with one or two glasses of wine.
How to Dance
Things are getting loose now. The marketing department has taken over the dance floor and are attempting dance moves they saw in a Lady Gaga video. My advice to you is to proceed to the dance floor with caution. If you are a bad dancer your lame gyrations will only make people realize that you are…well, lame. If you are a good dancer but did not heed my warnings above (see “how to drink) you may end up doing a dirty dance with the maintenance guy which will be the talk of the office for weeks. When in doubt, just fall back on the faithful two-step...or go play poker.
How to Network
Now everyone is having a good time. The higher ups are letting their hair down, ties come off, and everyone seems a bit more approachable. Warning: this is all an illusion. No matter how many drinks your boss has had if you guys were not best friends before the Holiday/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Ramadan office party, now is not the time to force the issue. Do not tell embarrassing or overly personal stories. Don’t follow him or her around subtly (or not so subtly) asking for a promotion. Instead use this time to network among your entire company, meeting new people or talking with those you work with but never had the time to get to know. Introduce yourself to someone you think may be a good mentor. And if you do get some one-on-one time with your boss or someone you think could be beneficial to your career, have your one minute “elevator speech” ready. An elevator speech is a concise, pre-prepared--but casual--speech about yourself and what you do that will make you memorable to someone. And as always…have your business cards ready!
Yes, parties for Holiday/Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Ramadan (or whatever you kids celebrate these days) should be fun and are great way to make friends with your co workers. But never forget that you are still in a work environment. What you do can and will be used against you come Monday morning. If you make the right moves, however, this will not only be a great party…it could shape up to be a great opportunity.