If you end up working a fall co-op, there is a good chance you will be invited to attend the company's Christmas party. Having been to a few office parties for my part-time job, I’ve learned through observation what works well at a Christmas party and what does not. Here are my top 5 tips on how you can maintain your professionalism while still having fun at office holiday parties:
1. Dress appropriately
I recommend dressing up for your Christmas party, but still dressing conservatively. This is more of a concern for women than for men because men can get away with something simple like a dress shirt and dress pants. Women typically have more options to choose from. Depending on how dressy your company is, I would suggest a nice blouse with a skirt or dress pants, or a classy cocktail dress. Avoid showing off a low cut shirt or a short skirt that you need to pull down to cover your bum. If you want to give off a good impression, dressing in an outfit your mother would be proud of is a good way to measure “appropriateness.” By dressing appropriately, you can really help give off a professional vibe while still looking good. Don’t be afraid to have fun with accessories to give some visual interest, just remember to dress to impress - in a professional way!
2. Be friendly, social and smile
Office parties are supposed to be fun and a break for the employees. Take this opportunity to socialize with co-workers that you get less of a chance to talk to at work. Often times people are invited to bring their spouse to a Christmas party. Take the time to meet them as well. When you make an effort to introduce yourself to people, you will find yourself having more fun. Christmas parties are the perfect way to learn about your co-workers and to develop better working relationships, as well as expanding your professional network. And of course, you can impress your supervisor with your positive and outgoing attitude at the party!
3. Arrive and leave at a proper time
Have you ever been to a party and seen someone leave early or being the first one to leave? Typically these people are noticed, and sometimes this may give off a bad impression. Christmas parties are a lot of work and money, and if your supervisor sees you leaving early, sometimes it could look like you do not appreciate it. Personally I think it’s best to leave when everyone else is leaving so you do not draw any negative attention to yourself.
At many Christmas parties, there are often ‘games.’ Trust me when I tell you that these games can be a nice change of pace from talking to people. Often there are ‘team games’ where people are encouraged to work together with their table. If you participate, you look more eager and like a team player. Enthusiasm and participation are important in many work environments, and even though you are technically ‘not on shift,’ it will look far more impressive if you participate in games than if you sit out.
5. Drink Responsibly
A common problem with office parties is the amount that people drink. Sometimes people tend to drink too much, and they become the talk of the party and for the rest of the time they are working at the company. If you want to present yourself as responsible and professional, you can do so by drinking responsibly. Remember to eat enough and to keep in mind your mode of transportation when you determine how much you drink. It's okay to drink a little bit at a holiday office party, just be responsible about it!
The bottom line is, have fun at the Christmas party but be conscious about maintaining your professional image. You might not be ‘on the clock’ but you still need to present yourself in a way you will be proud of the next workday and for the rest of your career.