How To Survive Your Office Holiday Party

A woman in a faux fur coat, with a black handbag at her office party

Throw some coworkers in a room, add some booze and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a good time…or a big disaster. Someone will always end up being the talk of the water cooler come Monday. Don’t let it be you. Here, our tips for successfully navigating the forced festivities.

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This is the one time of year your coworkers will see you out of office casual. Seize the moment and dress up! Put on a fun cocktail dress and slap on some eyeliner--but keep it classy. Now is not the time for plunging necklines and body con minidresses.

A plus one is a blessing and a curse. You'll have a comrade in arms, yes, but you'll also have double the chances of embarrassing yourself. Choose your date wisely. Can they handle an open bar? Can they have a normal conversation? Are they hot? If you answered yes to any of these questions, proceed.

Drinking is an essential and important part of the office party. However, ‘open bar’ are the two most dangerous words in the English language. Play it smart and imbibe strategically. Eat a snack before you go, hydrate frequently, and pace yourself. When Dan from IT orders a round of shots, steer clear.

Make a point to talk to people you only know in passing. You may say hello to the receptionist every morning, but did you know that she’s the leader singer in a Bee Gees cover band? Who knew! Challenge yourself to not talk about work and be careful not to overshare. Your boss really doesn't need to hear about your messy breakup.

Sometimes the party planning committee thinks it would be tons of fun to set up a little karaoke. This is very risky territory. You may think you have a good voice. You do not. Watch and cringe through other people's performances but absolutely keep your hands off that mic. Trust.

Once you’ve gotten a few drinks in your system, the music may really start to speak to you. Feel free to get down (assuming, of course, other people are dancing). However, if you dance like Elaine from Seinfeld, you might want to opt out this time. And, like a Middle School dance, no grinding allowed.

Usually, there’s a price limit on Secret Santa presents—adhere to it. While no one wants a $5 gift card to Staples, you shouldn’t go overboard either: Accidentally lavishing the accounting dude with a bottle of Courvoisier and a massage gift certificate sends the wrong message.

There’s a fine line between a "Love, Actually" slow dance with your office crush and a call from the HR department. So if you and your work spouse decide to take things beyond inside jokes and witty Gchat banter, be discreet. And remember, you’re going to have to see this person every day so be sure you can handle the repercussions.