You know that guy, he's usually quiet around the office, he comes into the kitchen, gets his coffee, walks away without even a nod or a smile. He's in and out and no one knows much about him. But then, come December, he becomes known as the train wreck who got trashed at the office Christmas party. Don't be that person. Follow these six rules to keep your end of the year peaceful, festive, safe, and to maintain respect, dignity, and confidence in the workplace.
1. Don't arrive fashionably late but don't get there early either
Aim for 30-45 minutes after the start time. You don't want to be the first or one of the first ones there. That can only lead to awkward standing around the buffet table or some early drinks at the bar on an empty stomach, which leads me to the next rule.
2. Don't drink
Don't have a drink before the office party to loosen up. When you get there, wait until you've eaten something. At that point, you still probably should not have more than one alcoholic beverage. You don't want to overdo it and say or do something you'll regret. You also want to make a good impression on your higher-ups and being seen constantly at the bar probably won't do that. Bar lines at parties like that are notoriously long, so if you spend all your time waiting for drinks, you're also missing out on precious networking time.
3. Don't let your date get loaded either
You don't want the office to be a twitter about how "Johnson's wife got so liquored up that she was seen vomiting in the ashtrays by the elevator," or "Lisa from Marketing's boyfriend tried to start a fist fight with the VP of Sales because he was talking to her," or anything less extreme but equally embarrassing.
4. Don't think of this as a social event but think of it as work
Use the rule of five. Make a goal for yourself to choose five benign conversation topics (how 'bout those niners!) and choose five people who you don't know very well to introduce yourself to and chat with each of those people for five minutes. Exchange pleasantries with your higher ups, listen to whatever announcements or awards they're presenting and get on out of there. You're doing this for your career, not for fun. There is wisdom in keeping a clean boundary between your work life and your social life.
5. You know how you don't want to be "that drunk guy..." Yeah, don't spend too much time talking to that guy or his date either. "That guy,"" might be pretty humiliated the next day. If you've spent a long time talking to him, he might be embarrassed and want to avoid you despite the fact that you yourself did nothing wrong.
6. Don't be the last one to leave either.
The choice is yours — go home early and get a good night sleep (no hangover!) or have something else planned for afterward so you can blow off steam. You don't want to be stuck at the end of the night hanging around with people who are super trashed or scrambling for rides or the biggest work no-no of all, looking for someone to go home with. As Ted Mosby says, "nothing good happens after 2am."
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