Office parties can be great icebreakers. They give you a chance to socialize with your coworkers in a non-work atmosphere and get to know people beyond their job descriptions, as well as allowing everyone to blow off steam and relax. However, the annual holiday party is also a minefield which you must navigate with care. There are some big mistakes you can easily make, which you should avoid at all costs for the sake of your reputation and career.
Of course, the top mistake that people make at an office party is to drink too much. Getting drunk around your coworkers might seem harmless enough, especially if the event is held in a bar or restaurant and everyone else is drinking, but drink one glass too many and the night will likely not end well for you. Drinking too much can lower your inhibitions and lead to you making inappropriate comments, becoming overly flirty, fighting with your co-workers, or even (shock, horror) that worst of all alcohol-related sins – taking part in karaoke. You can guarantee that you’ll lose respect from a few of your peers, as well as giving the office gossip enough material to keep people talking for weeks.
Also, be careful not to dress too suggestively. While it is certainly a party, it is still a professional atmosphere. Your boss will be there, and even if he isn’t, you are likely to be photographed and the photos will be put up on the latest social networking site for all to share and download. Smart casual attire should be worn to an office party – nothing sexy or suggestive. Cover your cleavage, and make sure your thong doesn’t hang out when you bend over. Even if you dress well, underwear should never be visible at any time, and after a few glasses of wine you’ll probably care a lot less about letting it ‘all hang out.’
Flirting with coworkers or their significant others is another no-no. Remember, this is still a business event, and flirting can easily lead to charges of sexual harassment, which is definitely not going to help you move up in the business.
Finally, failing to make it to your office party without a very good reason is another mistake to avoid. The only time that you should miss out on such an event is if there are personal plans already scheduled at the same time. Use the party for your benefit: get to know other coworkers, connect with your boss on a personal level, and have a good time.