How Not To Blow It At Your Office Holiday Party

The holidays are upon us boys. It's a time for overeating, fugly sweaters, and the lowlight of the season (depending on who you ask): the annual company party. The joy of free food and free alcohol gets voided out quick with the chance that you'll be subjected to the same damn co-irkers recalling their stories about the time they bagged one of the biggest accounts ever. Nevertheless, with a little finesse and game planning, the office party can turn into something much, much greater. Might as well take full advantage of it, here's how.

Party planning isn't only for those throwing the party, thorough research will need to go into the process of actually attending this forced company gathering. Crushing on the single coworker? Go covert and chat her up before she leaves to go home for the holidays, and figure out if she's attending. If so, tilt the odds in your favor. How? Start by getting your style game on lock, first off. If you've been employed at the job for over a year, you know the drill, always plan to dress a little sharper than the rest of the crowd. If you’re working for a large firm with a fancier dress code, go for something with a bit of extra juice. Rock a plaid or patterned suit and add a little bit of extra swag with some double monks. The key is to hit that sweet spot of formal and next-level, there’s a time and a place for your standard midweek navy go-to, this isn’t it. Should the dress code be business casual, don't come through stunting with a tuxedo. A nicely tailored pair of chinos and sweater with a pop of color in the button-up shirt underneath will go a long way. Also, throw on a tie; an unexpected tie in a business casual setting will really set it off. If you work at a startup, don't break fall into the trap of graphic tee and baggy jeans purgatory either. Something as simple as throwing on a blazer with your favorite denim and a clean pair of sneakers or loafers is really going to dial you in. Ultimately you want folks to recognize you're a snappy dresser outside of the 9 to 5, too.

Now that you've picked out the wardrobe well in advance, get the timing down. Getting there a little late means you won't have to indulge people you hardly know in painfully awkward conversation. Coordinate your arrival 30 to 45 minutes after the start time depending on the length of the party. If the get together is only a dinner with short cocktail hour, show up on time. No need to hold up someone's food. Don't forget to research Yelp in advance for a few after-party spots near the event in case the gathering ranks a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10 on the lit meter. You definitely want to be the hero who comes through with the perfect post-fiesta fiesta if you’ve got the opportunity. Post Holiday Party Pro Tip: Karaoke. In addition to just being hilarious and giving you the possible opportunity to get some video that could serve as blackmail material down the line, the chance to see Rick from IT crush Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is priceless. You never know what you’re gonna see at company karaoke, but you know it’s gonna be good.

Work The Room
After your moderately late arrival, scan the surroundings. Make your rounds by dapping up the work friends, acknowledge your crush via a compliment and drink offer, and small talk the higher ups a few minutes before retreating into a neutral corner with people you're comfortable with. Just remember to be inclusive and not exclusive when socializing. Face time at company events goes a long way when it comes to both upper management and your peers. Once you're settled in, enjoy the food and libations in moderation, attacking the buffet and bar like a soccer mom on Black Friday is a no-no. When it comes to a promotion, the higher ups won't soon forget that time you got a little too sauced up and started roasting the CEO or drunkenly complementing the ass of someone’s wife (No, saying it in a Ron Burgundy voice doesn’t make it alright either). More importantly, neither will your bank account. Sure, free alcohol is great, but keeping your dignity intact and that future promotion on deck is way better. Trust us when we say you don't want to start the new work week with a visit to HR and an apology tour.

Finish Strong
When it's time to hit the exit, check in with the work squad and see if they're willing to dip with you to an extended happy hour. Then make an incognito exit to keep the vibe going and head out to a local lounge but save the blackout drunk times for your crew outside of work who have known you for eons. At the job, perception is everything, even with your closest cubicle brothers and sisters. At the end of the night, play your cards smartly. If you’re going to close the deal with that office honey, make sure you’re smart about it. Office romance can be complicated and awkward eye contact at the lobby coffee bar the next morning can be rough. Act like a gentleman, brush off any awkwardness the next week, and if she's into it after the festivities have long since passed, you're golden. Keep flirty comments and such off of the work grid though, you want to channel the smoother side of Don Draper.

Follow our foolproof strategy and you’ll set yourself up for office party success, a hell of a good time on the company dime, and maybe, just maybe something extra to show for it.

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