Tips To Win The Holiday Party Game

Holiday office parties provide spectacular opportunities for either ruining your dwindling career prospects by making an ass of yourself, or advancing your standing by playing things just right.

Personal finance blogger FruGal has some tips on how to do the latter, or at least avoid hurling yourself into the former.

Among her hints:

Easy on the booze. — The great thing about inhibitions is that they keep you from acting out urges to do or say inappropriate things. Office cronies aren’t quite as forgiving as your group of pals, so you’ll want to keep your judgment ability high by getting trashed with free alcohol.

Smile a bunch. — Stay pleasant and approachable and you can rack up more networking notches than you would if you’re dour and skittish. When in doubt, just swallow your insecurities and force yourself into a fake politician grin.

Take notes. — If you’re somewhat new to the company, you’ll be meeting a lot of people, and most of them – even if they forget who you are – will appreciate it if you remember them. It can’t hurt to sneak off every few minutes and jot down some notes that will help you memorize which names belong with which mugs.

All this advice is no doubt the product of hindsight.

How do you win at office parties? And what’s your most embarrassing workplace shindig recollection?

How to use the party season to help your career [FruGal]

Comments

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  1. Blueskylaw says:

    1). Stay sober
    2). Observe other people and get a sense of the office politics
    3). Do not participate in said politics

  2. I just blue myself says:

    Ugh. I am so happy we don’t do work celebrations anymore.

  3. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I win by holding the annual team party and cooking like a team of four-star chefs. This year the theme was “just coffee and dessert” because it’s so hot this year, and I made two Austrian tortes, chocolate truffles, Meyer lemon gelee and panna cotta parfaits with raspberry sauce, a cheese board with figs, and a fruit bowl with Black Forest honey I brought back from Germany…

    What? Well, I’m single and I hardly get a chance to show off my cooking, and I have a lot of fun. My boss is a foodie, and the get-together partly makes up for the lack of a formal Christmas party in my department this year.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      Your office party sounds awesome! Ours this year was an assortment of vegan cookies and salsas with wine and champagne we found in the refrigerator in the basement, accompanied by a Christmas music DVD playing on loop with a picture of a roaring fire.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        Yeah, it really helps that I do not have to host forty people. But yours sounds cute :D

    • idx says:

      I need edible proof. Email me for an address to send the samples to. Thank you.

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        I still have some parfaits in the fridge, and the rest of the fruit salad got made into a batch of jam, but I gave the rest of the food away… brownie points w/r/t the apartment staff, the office secretaries, etc.

  4. katarzyna says:

    I’m not good at parties, so I tend to skip these events.

  5. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    Take embarassing photos of superiors to be used for blackmail.

  6. Johnny Longtorso says:

    I skip the annual party because I don’t really have any desire to see my coworkers drunk.

  7. katarzyna says:

    When I can’t avoid the party, I like to volunteer to help. I wrap presents at the annual holiday potluck, I’ll set up tables at the summer picnic, etc. That way I look busy and don’t have to figure out how to make small talk for hours on end.

  8. Rachacha says:

    My “favorite” office party was being stuck on a boat for several hours during a dinner cruise with my co workers. We were all engineers which made us socially awkward, and we saw so much of each other during the day that we really did not have anything to talk about except work related issues, which no one wanted to talk about during a holiday party, so we all say around and said pretty much nothing except to our significant others until a couple people got drunk and started singing karaoke…badly, so we started to make fun of them. The longest 3 hours of my life.

  9. Straspey says:

    Drink a lot of that spiked egg nog until – you’re good and tipsy.

    Flirt with all the young women (or men) – especially the boss’ assistant.

    Tell a few good off-color and “politically-incorrect” jokes.

    Then – jump up on the table and ask everybody to join in the holiday cheer with the following sing-along:

    “Ohhhhh —

    Conditions at work are frightful,
    And the boss is not delightful.
    And soon we’ll all be let go,
    This job blows, this job blows, this job blows.”

    (Can you guess that I don’t work in an office environment ?)

  10. Saltpork says:

    “The great thing about inhibitions is that they keep you from acting out urges to do or say inappropriate things. Office cronies aren’t quite as forgiving as your group of pals, so you’ll want to keep your judgment ability high by getting trashed with free alcohol.”

    I’m pretty sure getting trashed isn’t what you want to do.

    I skip these events due to my job requiring me to deal with 95% of the people in the company.
    I know everyone and have no desire to spend my downtime talking to the same people I see regularly.

  11. AngryK9 says:

    I win at office parties by not attending them. I have to spend nine hours a day, five days a week around these people, many of whom I don’t even like, so I prefer to keep the amount of contact minimized only to what is required.

    • MB17 says:

      +1

      Seriously don’t understand why people go to these things.

      • sweaterhogans says:

        yeah. I really don’t like anyone I work with and have NOTHING in common with them, so why would I want to go to some backwoods suburban “bar” with them?

  12. friendlynerd says:

    “Office cronies aren’t quite as forgiving as your group of pals, so you’ll want to keep your judgment ability high by getting trashed with free alcohol.”

    I think that sentence says the opposite of what you meant it to say.

  13. Shtetl G says:

    Never be the drunkest guy at the party. Everybody remembers the drunkest guy. No one remembers the second drunkest guy.

  14. JennyCupcakes misses her grandson says:

    There’s an annual “office party” (for a select group of people) after work on the day before Xmas eve. I went to this last year, and I was pretty wasted and ended up having a lengthy conversation with the VP of the company (he was sober from what I remember). I must have made an impression because he talks to me all the time now!

    He’s a Japanese transplant so what either won him over was my impressive knowledge of Japanese culture or the fact that everyone loves a drunk white girl with huge jugs.

    • SecretShopper: pours out a lil' liquor for the homies Wasp & Otter says:

      “so what either won him over was my impressive knowledge of Japanese culture or the fact that everyone loves a drunk white girl with huge jugs.”

      yeah it’s probably a little from column a, a lot from column d

    • areaman says:

      “…the day before Xmas eve.”

      Sounds like some people had the Festivus spirit.

    • kayfouroh says:

      “In Japan, I heart surgeon. Number one. Steady hand. One day, Yakuza boss need new heart. I do operation. But… mistake! Yakuza boss die! Yakuza very mad! I hide in fishing boat, come to America. No English, no food, no money! Darryl give me job. Now I have house, American car, and new woman. Darryl. Save. Life. My big secret: I kill yakuza boss on purpose. I good surgeon. THE BEST!”

      ?

  15. Shtetl G says:

    Never be the drunkest guy at the party. Everybody remembers the drunkest guy. No one remembers the second drunkest guy.

  16. Erika'sPowerMinute says:

    Wearing a miniskirt three sizes too small with four inch heels might get you attention, but that’s not the kind of attention you want to attract from your coworkers. Save the tramp gear for nights out with your friends.

    • cameronl says:

      “Wearing a miniskirt three sizes too small with four inch heels might get you attention, but that’s not the kind of attention you want to attract from your coworkers. Save the tramp gear for nights out with your friends, Steve.”

      Finished it for you.

  17. sonneillon says:

    Take notes?

    That has a chance of backfiring. Especially if you put descriptions to remember who they are.

    • ellmar says:

      agreed – my notes would be something along the lines of “bald guy whose mouth smells like something crawled in there and died = Mr. Billingsley and woman in miniskirt who could not have pulled off that look even if she were twenty years younger = Mrs. Billingsley”

  18. areaman says:

    My company didn’t do an office party this year and gave everyone something they can use. An ipad and a gift card. Merry Christmas to me. :D

  19. ElizabethD says:

    I’m usually on board with Consumerist’s random topics, but this one…. How is this relevant to the blog?

    If you’re desperate for real consumer news and rants, I’ll be unemployed again shortly when my current contract ends and will be happy to freelance some pithier stuff for you!

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Probably because if you make a complete fool of yourself at the office party its quite possible you could lose your job. This article is warning you not to do that.

    • ellmar says:

      If your job pitch involves insulting a potential employer in any way… you may need to read more Consumerist

  20. FrankReality says:

    We don’t have holiday parties at our company, but here’s my take.

    First, I really don’t like to go to them and my wife couldn’t be dragged to one.

    Dress appropriately and non-provocatively for the party. I’m a guy, so it’s easier for me since I don’t have to worry about skirt length, cleavage and heels.

    Stay sober. Since I’m a light drinker, I don’t drink anything alcoholic, but usually have a Sprite or 7-UP or orange juice in hand so I don’t appear nervous. Keep the drink in your left hand to leave your right hand available for handshakes and greetings.

    Eat modestly and with proper manners.

    Don’t be negative about anything or anyone, except maybe the weather.

    Avoid religion, sex, politics and other potentially controversial or divisive topics – little good can come from those topics and a lot bad can.

    I tend to not be able to hear well in crowds and noisy backgrounds so when I converse, I turn to the person and focus very directly on them. When meeting people, I usually ask them a question or two about what they do and ask for a business card if appropriate for the party. I find asking some general and safe questions provides relief to both of us. Once we end our conversation, I discreetly try to note some keywords on the business card.

    I have some practiced and short answers for some of the questions that meeting someone new would possibly ask. I also have business cards available. I also practice shaking hands to make sure I have a firm, but not vise-like hold.

    I act like a gentleman, especially around women. Things like pulling out chairs, offering to get a drink or refill their glass, opening doors, etc. Now, there are some women that wouldn’t appreciate this, but most do. Since I’m over 55 and married, this works for me.