Party Faux Pas: Tips for What NOT to Do at the Staff Christmas Party

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Going to a Christmas Staff Party? Here are some great tips to keep you from committing social faux pas - from fashion, to drinking, to conversation.

Every year, companies big and small will usually organize a year-end party for their staff -  to which employees, employers, and their guests will mingle and dine.  It can be called the Christmas Party, the Holiday Party, the Staff Get-Together, or whatever.  One thing is for sure, however:  you don't want it to become the Nightmare-I-Wish-I-Could-Wake-Up-From event, the What-Was-I-Thinking party, or the I-Hope-I-Still-Have-My-Job-on-Monday bash.  So, to help all those would-be party-goers avoid any potentially career-ending, foot-in-the-mouth, mortifying faux pas that can erupt at such year end events, the following tips and suggestions have been crafted for you.  Yes, that means you, too.  Take heed.  Please.

1.  Do NOT dress like a street-walker or a gigolo.  Yes, everyone wants to get spiffied up, put on the glitz, and let their hair down (or put it up).  That's great - please do.  Just avoid the following fashion faux pas:

  • fish net stockings
  • a skirt so short it looks like a belt
  • necklines cut to the navel - you should be able to dance, bend over, and raise your arms without having to tuck "the girls" back in.  Don't expose more bosom than Pamela Anderson on any given day - actually, a lot less cleavage would be in good taste.  You can still look sexy without looking easy.
  • Neckline faux pas aren't limited to women. . . it goes for men, too!  Shirts unbuttoned to bare the chest may have been cool in Saturday Night Fever, but it's not 1977 and you're not John Travolta, even if you can dance.  Also, avoid the tacky tie with Rudolph and his red nose flashing, or any equivalent horrendous waste of silk.
  • Also for men - unless the party has been officially deemed a "black tie" event, do not don your tuxedo that you last wore to your brother's wedding eight years ago.  Especially if it's baby blue.
  • Too much bling-bling.  You may have the very finest jewelry collection this side of Nashville, but you don't need to wear it all, at one time, on every appendage.  Less is more.
  • If you're going to wear stilettos, make sure you know how to walk in them. . . gracefully.  'Nuf said.

2.  Do NOT drink until you're drunk.  Ignore this advice, and you could end up regretting it.  Call it what you like - getting hammered, sloshed, obliterated - but, getting completely inebriated at a work-related event is probably one of the biggest faux pas a person can make.  Other social blunders can be over-looked to some degree, but if you cannot control your body, words, or actions because you have had too much to drink, it will reflect very poorly on you for a long time.  It should come as no surprise what can happen if you drink too much. 

You might:

  • sing very bad karaoke (okay, so that's nothing out of the ordinary)
  • get sick and throw up... perhaps on the dance floor
  • get loud, obnoxious, and mouthy, which could lead you to. . .
  • decide to tell the boss exactly what you think of him/her
  • aggressively flirt with someone's spouse, or. . .
  • make unwanted sexual advances toward a co-worker
  • pick a fight, which could lead to bodily harm and/or even legal issues
  • end up with alcohol poisoning
  • Drive drunk.  Your decision-making powers can also be impaired, putting many people in potential danger if you choose to drink and drive.   Hopefully, if you do choose to have even one drink, you'll take a taxi.

3.  Do NOT dominate every conversation; be mindful of your words.  Some people are introverts and others are extroverts.  Hence, some people, more-so than others, are comfortable taking the initiative to strike up a conversation.   Remember, it takes (at least) two people to have a conversation (the staff party might not be the best place to indulge in talking to yourself).  Therefore, introverts and extroverts, and everyone in between, please heed these tips for avoiding conversational faux pas:

  • Don't brag about stuff.  (You might enjoy my article on the Psychology of Boasting, for some interesting topics that people have been known to brag about)
  • Do take the time to listen when someone is talking to you. (If you really haven't a clue how to actively listen, reading my related article, The Fine Art of Conversation, may give you some ideas)
  • Don't tell dirty jokes, or racist ones, either.  Having said that, sometimes a good, fun joke can lighten the mood or break the ice - if it's done right.  For some clean jokes and tips on how to tell them, read 30 Great Jokes You Can Tell.
  • Do remember your manners - please, thank you, you're welcome, excuse me - these small gestures and words may get you recognized in a positive light, whereas being devoid of these social mores may have detrimental and lasting effects.  Do not underestimate the power of good manners.
  • Don't gossip and air the dirty laundry.  Whatever happens at work - leave it at work.

Finally, remember to have fun.  That's what parties are all about.  If you're the one that always has to be the voice of reason at work, don't be afraid to show the lighter side of yourself.  Put on the Santa hat if you want.  If you're the boss, take some time to chat with your employees and show them you are actually human.  The bottom line is this: Lighten up and let loose. . . just not too much!  And remember: you will need to show your face at work the next day (or next work day).   Let that be your guide so you can hold your head high.

© Sharla Smith, December 2011

Image Credits:  Main Photo, Stock.xchng ; Inset photo, Stock.xchng

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Sharla Smith
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