The holidays are just around the corner and you receive an email notifying you about the company’s holiday party. You may be feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness, especially if this is your first holiday work social.
These parties are meant to be fun, but it can be tricky to walk the line between laid-back and professional. Here are some tips you can use to make a great first impression!
Be a team player
It’s simple enough to show up and attend the holiday party, but you can also take a proactive approach leading up to the party. Depending on the company culture, some organizations may have seasonal traditions and activities, such as fundraisers or gift exchanges.
Don’t feel intimidated – this is a great way to build relationships with your colleagues outside the context of work! Participating in these activities shows that you’re interested in being a part of the office community. It’s more about making an effort to embrace the company culture.
Dress to impress
Like an interview, it’s important to dress appropriately for a holiday party. If you’re unsure what the dress code is, ask your colleagues ahead of time so you can focus more on the event and less on whether your outfit is appropriate.
Dressing appropriately doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your outfit. Consider wearing some accessories such as a holiday-patterned tie or necklace. Nervous about breaking the ice? These can also act as a great conversation starter. Who says fashion can’t be functional?
Go easy on the drinks
One of the quickest ways to ruin your first impression at a holiday work party? Overdoing it on drinks. An open bar is not an invitation to knock back 6 glasses of eggnog – take it easy and focus on enjoying the company of your colleagues. Having some self-restraint will demonstrate to your co-workers and managers that you can tread the line between relaxed and professional.
On a related note, don’t be the last to leave the party – the general rule of thumb is to stay for a few hours, have a couple of drinks, and leave while the night is relatively young. This reduces your chances of overdoing it on the drinks and saving your image.
Don’t talk about work
The whole point of these office functions is to wind down and get to know your colleagues outside the context of work, so it’s best not to mention that deadline you have tomorrow. This is a great chance for you to build rapport with people you see every day, and make some memories outside of your day-to-day tasks.
This is also a great time to chat up your managers and get to know them. Keep it professional but lighthearted – ask about what they do during their spare time, and share some funny (work-appropriate) stories. This is your chance to let everyone know who you are as well!
Lend a helping hand
Don’t just think of yourself as a guest – think about how you can get involved and support your colleagues. While you might not be able to join the planning committee for the event, look out for ways to help with small tasks.
Do your colleagues need help with set-up and clean-up afterwards? Perhaps they might have some last-minute items they need picked up from the store. Even if they have everything under control, there’s no harm in offering to help.
The most important thing to remember? Have fun. Holiday parties can be a bit nerve-wracking at first, but hopefully these tips can help you adjust to the new environment. Happy holidays everyone and have a great time!