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Do’s and Dont’s for Holiday Parties

Embarrassed about your behavior at last year’s blow-out? Our guide to navigating office get-togethers will keep you on Santa’s good list


by Janice Holly Booth

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It’s that time of year again when holiday parties clog both our schedules and arteries. Feeling a little sheepish about what happened at last year’s holiday blow-out? Have you vowed to remain dignified this time but just aren’t sure how to pull it off? We’ve left no wine glass unturned in our quest to find you the best advice on how to handle those pesky personality quirks that landed you in deep dip last year.

PROBLEM: You dance like Elaine from Seinfeld  We support the free expression of your uniqueness, so go on, dance your heart out: your lack of rhythm and choppy moves will serve as bonus entertainment, unless of course you’re trying to impress the CEO or plan on making a bid for a promotion soon. None of those things on your radar screen? Great, enjoy, but it’s probably a good idea not to demonstrate the pole dancing routine you learned during Girls Night or bust out your new belly dancing moves unless the party has a middle-eastern theme in which case we strongly recommend keeping your belly to yourself.

PROBLEM: You’re a motor mouth So you can talk a hungry dog off a meat wagon. That’ll serve you well in sales but at a party it can quickly make you the one to avoid. Parties are great for spending more time with people you barely know and for meeting new ones, so use your Chatty-Cathy tendencies to spread cheer equally: don’t bogart the boss or anyone else, even if they are fascinating and seem to be a good listener. Chances are they’ve stopped talking in the hopes you will shut up and move on. Remember that parties are not the place to vent, complain or gossip. You get to do that every other day of the year.

PROBLEM: You were raised by wolves We see this one a lot. You notice the hors d’oeuvres tray getting a little thin and suddenly your primal instincts kick in – those salmon puffs may be the last things you will ever eat! You must have them all before another carnivore swoops in and you starve. We can see you now, stuffing stuffed mushrooms into your mouth by the fistful. Whoa, Nellie, put the brakes on! Piling your plate with mounds of munchies is tacky and unnecessary. Take no more than two of any one thing at a time or your hoarding strategy will backfire. Once the serving staff knows you’ll wipe their trays clean, they’ll steer clear of you the rest of the night and you might even get your hand slapped. Chew your food slowly: you’ll enjoy it more and end up eating less.

PROBLEM: You feel a sin coming on Is it OK to flirt at the holiday party? Depends. It’s probably not a good idea to flirt with the boss’ wife, or worse – his daughter. Anything wrong with strategically positioning yourself under the mistletoe? Nope, especially if you’re looking forward to overly-long and slobbery kisses inflicted upon you by boozed-up secret admirers. If you always get a little flirtatious when you drink, feel free to enjoy it, but keep yourself in check.

PROBLEM: Your teeth love food as much as you do If big wedges of broccoli are always getting stuck in your teeth, you have two choices: 1) don’t eat the broccoli or 2) eat the broccoli where you will be able to quickly survey the detritus wedged in your chompers. Never—and we mean never—is it cool to stick your entire hand in your mouth to extract that giant piece of chicken wedged in your back molars. Although your dentist may approve, no-one else will appreciate you flossing in public. Likewise, no toothpicks or other dental instruments should be employed when others are going to be subjected to the view. GROSS! Go to the bathroom, stand in a corner or hide under a napkin while you attend to your pearlies, but don’t do it where we have to see you.

PROBLEM: You never met a drink you didn’t like The office party isn’t the place to show how well you can hold your liquor by sampling every variety of wine, beer and liquor available at the bar. Even in the most relaxed settings, you are being watched. That doesn’t have to be a buzz-kill though. If you’ve always got to have a drink in your hand then alternate between booze and water. Even if you drink a lot, it’ll take you longer to get to the point where you become fodder for the talk around tomorrow’s lunch table.

PROBLEM: You’re not sure if it’s allergies or a cold As far as we’re concerned, if you’re sneezing into your hand or over the food, you’re in the incubation stage of bubonic plague. People accustomed to clearing their throats with a hefty self-induced cough should realize that we look upon such spraying of sputum as akin to mustard gas: we will not breathe the air you just polluted and we’re going to steer clear of you for the rest of the night. And shake your hand? Not unless we see you disinfect it first with the hand sanitizer you should be carrying around with you at all times. The last thing to remember, besides not drinking and driving, is that it can take a lifetime to build a reputation, and only a second to destroy it. Mae West said that “too much of a good thing can be wonderful,” but she actually thrived on being infamous. The rest of us need to show some restraint. Here’s to the holiday celebrations, may there be many, and may we leave them with our heads (and our reputations) held high!

Photo credits: 
The Office with Steve Carell Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU/Getty Images Office workers at Christmas party Credit: Jacobs Stock Photography/Getty Images