Office holiday parties live on; six tips to survive them

The days of extravagant, caviar-and-cabernet holiday galas have, for the most part, passed. After all, companies have plenty of reasons to be more cautious about spending. But by no means is the holiday party dead. In fact, the corporate holiday soiree is undergoing a revival of sorts.

Eighty-three per cent of companies are planning holiday parties, compared with just 68% last year, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. A survey by the California outplacement and workplace coaching consultancy also shows that 17% of human resources directors said more money was being spent on the parties.

With merriment, though, comes danger for workers and businesses, detailed in several surveys including one by the Creative Group, an affiliate of staffing firm Robert Half, which carried the headline “Ho Ho Uh-Oh” and cited several holiday party fouls.

Here are a few tips to remember before you have that third cup of spiked eggnog, grab the microphone and rant about your boss:

  • No wild card guests. If your company allows you to bring someone along, it should be your spouse or significant other. No blind dates at the company party. And, obviously, if the company doesn’t say you can bring a guest, then don’t try to sneak in your best friend.

  • Dress properly. So maybe a Santa hat is OK, but remember, this is still a work function. Business casual can’t go wrong, unless your company specifies otherwise.

  • Easy on the alcohol. No negotiating for extra drink tickets; someone could regret that decision. If your company serves alcohol at the party, consume in moderation and you’ll be less likely to say or do something offensive or unsafe. According to Caron Treatment Centers, 64% of Americans have called in sick or know someone who has missed a day of work because of a holiday party hangover.

  • It’s a party, not a licence to gossip. Enjoy yourself and the company of your coworkers, but not at the expense of others.

  • No campaigning. You can use the party as a venue to introduce yourself to that new senior vice president, but the party is not a place for you to make your case for a raise or promotion.

  • Be social media-savvy. It’s fine to take a few pictures, but check with others before posting to social network sites, and keep the content tame. No partygoers want to see embarrassing photos of themselves.

Neil Amato ( is a CGMA Magazine senior editor.