It is that beautiful time of year again—that time when the weather turns just a touch crisper, Christmas lights adorn facades, and fluffy snow covers the ground. A time when everyone seems a bit happier and more energetic. When we look forward to receiving (and maybe giving) a few gifts. When we gather with friends and family to sip eggnog and sing carols. And when the gossip-filled annual office party occurs. We’ve thrown together a handful of tips to help you navigate this sometimes treacherous occasion and ensure that you still have a job the next morning. And hopefully with no headache and your reputation intact or even enhanced!
We shouldn’t have to discuss this, but, unfortunately, we do. Unless it is a tacky sweater Christmas party, the sweater your mom bought you in high school for Christmas probably isn’t what you want to wear. Some Christmas parties might be black tie—and if so, dress that way—otherwise most are fairly casual affairs. Men, wear a pair of slacks, a white button up, and a traditional V-neck sweater in either green or red. No need for a sweater with Christmas trees. Women, don’t go for that low cut revealing red dress. This is a work event. Save the seductive red number for a Christmas party with friends. Your HR manager will thank you.
Avoid the advances of your superiors and co-workers
We’ve seen it in numerous movies, and at the Christmas party, it actually happens. You may be shocked how “out of nowhere” these advance come. The holidays do crazy things to bosses and fellow employees—just like full moons and budget cuts. To avoid the advances of your co-workers, we recommend staying with a group when they are around. Don’t go into their office with them alone. Don’t let your boss call you in to talk about “work” for a few minutes. There are strengths in numbers, and you don’t want a one night mistake to turn into an ongoing awkward office situation. Worse yet, you don’t want it to be the end of your job if something fishy gets reported to HR.
Many companies go to great expense and effort to put on exceptional Christmas parties for their employees and clients. Make a difference and get noticed by offering to help with some facet of the party that you are passionate about. Do you aspire to someday learn to be a mixologist? Offer to help with the drinks. Love decorating and planning? Volunteer to help decorate. Give a little without expecting something in return, and you could receive a lot. Employers notice joyful employees who are willing to sacrifice a bit of their personal time to lend a helping hand.
There will, no doubt, be copious amounts of fine wine, punch, and champagne at your Holiday extravaganza. It is important that you be fully functional the next day at work. Many bosses evaluate the talent pool the day after a huge company event to see who bounces back best and who is most dedicated to their job. Thus, it is key that you aren’t stuck with a huge headache and bad attitude the day after your party. At 6PM the evening before we recommend you start pounding water- 8 ounces every hour on the hour (with the exception of the hours you are sleeping, of course). When you wake up continue the ritual—all the way up until the Christmas party. This has worked for us—and it will work for you. It is worth a few extra restroom breaks for the chance to be the most productive employee the next day.
Bring a creative gift for the host
Often, there is one person who has spent the most time organizing and orchestrating the party. In a small business it might be owner. In a larger company it might be someone in HR. Buy that person something special and creative to show how much you appreciate what they’ve done. A personalized gift like The Expressionary can go a long way to build your reputation and goodwill within an organization.
Bring an appropriate sex neutral Xecret Santa gift
Want to ruin a “blind” secret Santa gift exchange? Show up with a car wrench wrapped up. Or a pink journal. Or a set of whiskey stones. Save the gender specific (and age specific) gifts for a party where you are with friends. One clever option is to make an ornament—a clear ball ornament, that you place ten or twenty dollars inside of (whatever the gift limit may be). The ornament will cost one dollar, take the top off, place the money inside, and watch people fight for the ornament!
Learn the names of the clients at the party
If your holiday party involves clients you have a unique opportunity to stand out in their minds—which might have them talking about you at their next meeting at your company. Get a list of the RSVP guests and do a bit of research on them. Find out how long they’ve been clients/customers and what they do and are passionate about. Be brave and start a conversation with them. Who knows, it may be just the thing to get on the upward track within your company!
By following these little tips you’ll not only conquer, but come out on top, after your company’s holiday party!
William L. Mehserle Jr. is co-founder with Michael J. Flanigan of theExpressionary.com, a personalized gift site, and Khraze.com, a new media marketing company. You can connect with him on Twitter at @WilliamMehserle or on LinkedIn
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