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Manners Still Matter: Holiday party dos and don’ts

‘Tis the season, isn’t it?

Carole Townsend

Evenings are booked with dinners, parties, and entertainment. One of my favorite (and one of the most popular) topics when discussing etiquette, in December anyway, has to be the company holiday party. And with the world still emerging from the isolating cocoon of COVID-19, this year’s parties promise to be more festive than ever. For all of our sakes, I certainly hope so. We need some festivity, a much-needed break from the anxiety and uncertainty of the past two years.
With holiday parties popping up right and left (and certainly in the workplace), it’s a good time to review some tried and true rules of etiquette, as well as some of the newer ones.
If you’re an employee who’s received an invitation to the company Christmas (or holiday) party, make every effort to attend. These events are hosted at great expense and effort by your employer, as a way of saying “thank you” and “I appreciate you.” All that’s expected of you is your attendance.
It’s probably wise to just get this next rule out on the table. Do not overindulge in alcohol. Frankly, that’s a wise rule in any setting, but let’s look at the company holiday party specifically. It’s hard to command respect and attention on Monday morning if your colleagues watched you dance the Macarena with a lampshade on your head Saturday night. Drinking too much alcohol at these parties inevitably leads to awkward and embarrassing situations in coming days. Just say “no.”

If you bring a guest to the company party, make sure beforehand that they understand basic rules of etiquette and observe them at the event. Your plus-one shouldn’t be making inappropriate remarks to your boss (or their spouse), and they shouldn’t be wandering around the house or venue in areas not designated for the party. The “rule of alcohol” applies to your guest, also.
Be sure to mingle with your colleagues and make proper introductions.
A company party is not the place to gossip about colleagues or bosses/owners.
Wear tasteful attire, and refrain from flirting with coworkers.
Put your cell phone away. It’s OK to be unavailable for the amount of time you’ll be at the party.
Be sure to seek out those who hosted and planned the party, and personally thank them for their hospitality.

On a more humorous note, add these good sense rules of holiday party etiquette to your list:
Do not dump trays of your favorite canapes in your purse or jacket pocket. Just enjoy them for the evening, and leave it at that. The same rule applies to the silver flatware and crystal stemware.
Tonight is not the time to ask your boss for a raise or to lodge a complaint.
If your holiday party this year is a virtual event, participate fully, appropriately dressed. Many of us became comfortable wearing pajamas around the clock during the COVID-19 shutdown, and for those two years, many viewed pants as optional accessories during Zoom meetings.
If the party is  virtual, do not multi-task while participating. Give other partygoers your full attention. In other words, don’t bathe your kids or bleach your teeth while you’re “attending” the party.
That pretty much covers things. These guidelines all boil down to one premise, and that’s to “be considerate of others.” With a little bit of effort, you’ll be surprised at how much fun the company party can be, this year and every year.