In my career, I have attended many company holiday parties. It might be surprising to some, but these types of events are difficult for me. I am not sure if it’s the format, the lack of seating or the “who are the cool kids and can I chat with them” feeling. No matter how many I went to, I always felt nervous and a bit out of place (even when I was the VP – go figure). Being the constant go-getter, I came up with some do’s and don’ts that I always follow to help me through these types of events.
Be friendly, stay focused and SHOW UP!
Be sure you RSVP (and don’t be late). Attending this type of corporate function should be a priority on your list of things to do to help accelerate your career. You never know who you might connect with, what project might need your expertise or what job just opened that you would be perfect for.
Whether you work in a small start-up or a large corporation, there is someone you don’t know. Introduce yourself to three new people and get to know them (as well as you can at a work party).
To ease the nerves, I always have three questions ready to ask someone I have never met before. In my experience, it gets the person talking about themselves and takes the pressure off me. This same theory works for any company holiday party. Here are three that always seem to work for me:
- What do you do for the company? (By the way, you may want to be sure you know who the CEO is…he/she might not like that question)
- How long have you worked here? This is a great question if you are new and looking for that “go-to person” to help with all sorts of questions you might have.
Lastly, it is okay to get a bit personal.
- Where did you go on vacation this past year? This is one of my favorites. You get to hear what that person likes to do in their free time and it gives you a bit of insight about who they are. You might also find you have a connection with them. Some of my friends today are people I worked with at one time and we found we had similar hobbies. Not only did I gain a new friend, but my network also grew. A great bonus!
Don’t be the life of the party!
We’ve all seen Bridgette Jones’ Diary. Yup, that really does happen! And it really can end a career. These are easy tips to follow but they are often forgotten.
- Don’t take more than one helping of the punch (no one wants to see your slurring dissertation on Facebook the next day), remember, everyone is watching!
- Don’t stay until the lights go down (don’t your cats need to be fed?) Stay 30-45 minutes and excuse yourself politely.
- Don’t commit to anything (a project, mentoring, a promotion). This is not the time nor the place to discuss your career. Stay focused on spreading holiday cheer. Simply suggest you can reconnect with your boss on Monday to discuss things further. Be sure to pencil that in your calendar and follow up!
What To Wear!
Now that we have covered the etiquette, let’s focus on your attire. Since I have worked for many different companies and always in retail, black is my staple. It is my go-to, even now at the store, I wear black every day. Black always looks clean, you can’t see wrinkles and you can dress it up or down. I bet you can guess my suggestion for the holiday party. You guessed it, start with black. I love wide-legged pants, but any black essential piece, a dress, a pant or a pencil skirt, they all work. Remember: No leggings! Pair that "bottom" with a black top, turtleneck or crew neck tee, and you are good to go! Nothing plunging or see-through. My guess is that you will be wearing this outfit all day and will just need to adjust the look for the festivities. Here are a few go-to tips I use regularly:
- Change the jewelry (something with sparkle is good here).
- Add a bit more makeup, it’s okay to add that red lip for this party.
Images from Sephora
- Add those amazing heels you have been dying to wear. Remember: A bit of sparkle or red can make an outfit!
Set on Polyvore
Be sure you keep the cocktail dress you are wearing to this year’s New Year’s Eve party in the closet. Don’t forget, this is a work party! There is always a dress code, even if it is just yours. Now is not the time to show you have a sense of humor or can be as funny as Tina Fey. No ugly Christmas sweater! I promise your boss won’t think of you when the next promotion comes around if all he/she can remember is that sweater. Lastly, use your cameras sparingly. If you think about taking a photo you’d be embarrassed show your grandmother, it’s probably a good idea to rethink taking it! Remember: There is a reason why we all have our own personal accounts, no need to share with our co-workers.
Finally, be sure you find your boss and thank them for a great year. Show your appreciation and wish them a great holiday. Karma…it is real!
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For the past 25 years, Robin has devoted herself to almost every facet of the fashion industry. Working from the ground up, she has worked for and with some of the most prominent names in the fashion industry (Victoria's Secret, Tory Burch, Chico's Brands, J. Crew - to name a few). She started in store operations and progressed to buyer before switching to the other side and selling apparel for vendors. At the beginning of the tech craze, she went behind the scenes, consulting with retail companies on eCommerce, Omni-channel and Supply Chain. She’s even designed and developed her own products. It was in 2015, that Robin turned her dedication, expertise, and passion to a new venture: robin b.