Christmas party etiquette which no one will tell you
Festivity provides a unique opportunity for you to get to know your colleagues, team members, juniors and seniors outside the setting of a cubicle. However, such a setting can also put one in a bit of a dilemma, for even though the nature of the event is informal, it is none the less, a gathering of all your professional relationships and contacts! So what are the unsaid rules of such an office party? How do you avoid coming across as over-friendly or a snob? How do you balance the cordial with the professional? People Matters hands out some helpful pointers for both employees, and employers:
- Dress Smartly: Sure, it is a chance to make a statement in fashion and flaunt your style quotient, but beware of overdoing it. Smart casuals generally work at such events, but if there is a dress code or a theme, stick to it. As a thumb rule, don’t wear something you normally don’t wear or if you normally wear a suit to work, don't show up to the office party in jeans and a T-shirt. Anything that can be described as ‘Too much’ should ideally be ditched, for example, too bright, too colourful, too casual, or too anything.
- Watch the critique: Do not make this a feedback session for other team members/colleagues, or worse so, an extended chit-chat about a colleague or bad-mouthing how they work. On the contrary, this is a chance for you to get to know the obscure members of your team better, and make new friends.
- Over-sharing: This might be one of the few occasions where your colleagues are getting to know you outside the office, but keep a check on how much you share. Others might be polite enough to not point out that they do not have much interest in knowing every morbid detail your life history, or the last organisation you worked at, and so you shouldn’t put them in a position to begin with.
Employers/Senior Management/Department Heads:
- Plan wisely: This is a rare event, and an opportunity for you to get all your employees for a celebration. So loosen those purse strings and allocate a decent budget. You’d be surprised at the steep discounts that are up for grabs for office-parties. However, make preparations according to the strength of the people. Your organization might have over a 1000 employees, but only 200 might turn up, so plan accordingly and ask people to confirm their attendance well in advance for the same.
- Don’t be a ‘Boss’: This one is a little tricky, for your employees will anyway treat you like one, but try your best to not be a ‘boss’ at this time. Let others take the lead, and do not call the shots. Get photos clicked, have conversations and don’t look bored, or as if you this is a formality for you and you’d rather not be present.
- Ice-breakers: It is very likely that several people will be meeting each other for the first time at such a party, despite working in the same office for a long time. To help them initiate a conversation, do think of some easy, casual and fun ice-breaker activities. Also, if your employees are allowed to bring plus ones, this becomes indispensable.
A few things must be kept into consideration by both the employee and the employer:
- Check your Spirit: Keep a tab on how much alcohol you are consuming. Everyone knows what their capacity is, before the inhibitions come down, and it is best to not venture in such a territory. People guzzle liquor because it is free, and lose track of where they are. There is always this one incident, which involves someone under the influence, from such parties that is talked about for months. Try not to be that person.
- No Work-Talk: Nothing acts as mood-spoiler if you decide to talk about work at the party. It is a chance for you to not worry about the work, and actually enjoy a day with the people you work with. So save the discussion regarding the pending reports, presentations, audits and expansion plans for until after the Christmas break.
- Talk to Everyone: Though this might seem trivial or impractical, if the number of people is high, but make it a point to talk to everyone, if only in your team/department or the people you deal with every day. The whole idea of this party is for everyone to get to know each other, and if you stick to the same set of people with whom you break bread with everyday, it defeats the purpose and the spirit of Christmas.
Last, but not the least, be on time. This is something that everyone needs to be careful about, because the venue and arrangements are booked as per a fixed time schedule, failure to follow which might lead to problems for the person who has arranged it. On the other hand, if you are the employer, and you reach two hours late, it is likely that you might find people waiting for you to ‘officially’ begin their celebrations. So it is best to reach on time! At the end of it, no matter if your liked the food and the music or not, do acknowledge the person who planned it and appreciate them!
Christmas and New Year is the time to look back at what you have done in the entire year, learn from your mistakes, and celebrate your successes. It is also the time to share this celebration with everyone in the team, and treat everyone to a chance to wind down. But keep yourself in check, and get to know others and have a good time.
People Matters wishes you a warm and joyous festive season ahead!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!