It's (work) party time! How to ring in the holidays without regrets

Whether a corporate-sponsored, semi-formal event or a group outing at a local watering hole, holiday gatherings are festive events, which can lead to careless carousing (especially when the eggnog is spiked).

That doesn’t mean employees can’t and shouldn’t have fun. They simply need to party smart. There is no other event on the corporate calendar that offers greater opportunity to be noticed - whether it’s as employee of the year or the guy who slow-danced with the table centerpiece.

Help your employees have a joyous and memorable-for-all-the-right-reasons corporate holiday season by encouraging them to follow these party pearls of wisdom:

1. Join the festivities. First and foremost, encourage employees to attend the event. Yes, it’s the holidays and everyone is busy but “no-shows” are noticed. At the very least, attending demonstrates that you’re a team member and not an outsider.

2. Dress appropriately. This is no time to be a jester in a court of kings. Don’t show up looking like you’re cleaning out the garage … or test the boundaries of good taste with clothes too tight, too short or too low. Do your best to blend and remember that how you dress matters.

3. Restrict the refreshments. Too many trips to the spiked punch bowl or open bar can lead to inappropriate words and actions. Limit yourself to one or two drinks, so you can leave the party with your wits - and reputation - intact.

4. Toe the line. Although employees are not officially on the clock, their conduct during on-site or off-site events should be the same: businesslike. Many a career has taken a turn for the worse due to loose lips, lapses in sound judgment and other embarrassing shenanigans. Keep it clean and keep it professional.

5. Expand your social circle. While it’s easier to hang out with your “regular” group of coworkers, a holiday gathering is a great environment for getting to know employees you don’t regularly interact with. On the flip side, don’t attach yourself to just one person and monopolize the conversation. Move around and mingle.

6. Limit “shop talk”. While you’re mingling with others, try to keep the business talk to a minimum. Instead, take advantage of the opportunity to get to know your coworkers on a more personal level. Be positive and stick with safe topics like travel, family, local sports and movies.

7. Be appreciative. Before leaving the party, make an effort to thank a senior executive. Not only is it proper etiquette, but it also gives you a chance to make a positive (perhaps even first) impression. Your politeness will be remembered.

Check out Friday’s blog post for some final tips from the HR front for keeping your holiday event happy and harassment-free.

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