Moderation is the key: it’s still an office party, explains Marsha Egan

Company and office parties are back on the agenda. They can be fun and warm, but sometimes, these seemingly innocent gatherings can be a recipe for disaster. You are never really “off the clock” when it comes to business-related parties. By recognizing this, you can increase your chances of enjoying that gathering, and not falling down the slippery slope of career-damaging actions.

Here are some successful (and cautionary) tips to keep in mind:


Watch what you drink. This could be the single most important tip about office party survival. No one likes a drunk. Alcohol can sometimes give people false courage. If you’d haven’t said what you wanted to say at work, avoid letting that “courage” you just drank allow you to say it during the holiday gathering.

Work Can Wait

Unless it absolutely can’t wait until the next business day, don’t talk about work issues during a holiday office party. Remember, this is a time to relax and have fun – not conduct business. Only talk business if your executive initiates it. Go with the flow.

Dress and Grooming

Even though it’s a party, it is still a business event. If you are unclear as to the appropriate dress, lean more toward the conservative. Now is not the time to experiment with a drastic new ’do or hair color. Go easy with the perfume and aftershave: moderation is your best guideline.

Beware the Rumor Mill

Holiday parties are breeding grounds for gossip and next-day commentary. The mixture of alcohol and coworkers can create attention you don’t want to have. Avoid long conversations in dark corners. If there is dancing, be sure to mix. And avoid being that “next-day gossiper” as well.

To Go or Not to Go

Go to your office holiday party for at least a little while, even if you’d rather not, to avoid coming across as disconnected from your job and your team. Especially if your office party is in the evening or over the weekend, you might rather spend that time doing something other than hanging out with the same people you see all day at work. But it’s smart to at least show up if you can do it without real hardship.


Make a point of talking to people beyond your usual circle. Work social events can be an opportunity to build relationships with people in other departments, which can pay off in the performance of your job.


When in doubt, do the respectful thing. Be sure to introduce people to each other, and have respectful, friendly, and interesting conversations throughout the event. Mind your manners just as you would in any other business situation. Be sure to thank the party organizers either at the party or soon after it.

Have Fun!

Even though these are some basic career survival tips to follow, don’t forget the purpose of an office party is to have fun. So enjoy yourself, but remember, moderation is the key – it’s still an office party.

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Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, a Nantucket, Massachusetts-based workplace productivity coaching firm. She is author of Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence. She can be reached at, where you can also read her ... (Read More)

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