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Man wearing Santa hat holding a champagne glass while attending a virtual holiday celebration with others on his computer screen

How to Responsibly Enjoy Workplace Holiday Celebrations

Office holiday celebrations are a great way to celebrate hard work and achievement and spend time with your colleagues outside of the work setting. Office celebrations are a chance for coworkers to mingle without talking about work, and while this can be positive for morale and team building, it can also present opportunities for social disasters and embarrassment if the festivities get out of hand. To avoid a feeling of regret and shame the next day in the office, we’ve provided some do’s and don’ts to ensure you keep your composure while still enjoying the fun festivities.

While the below information is important to remember at any company event, office celebrations may look a little bit different this holiday season. In an effort to prioritize safety and still celebrate and build engagement with employees, many organizations are choosing virtual alternatives to in-person events this year (EBN). But no matter whether you are celebrating- via Zoom, finding a safe location outside, or getting together with a smaller group of colleagues- you can follow these do’s and don’ts this year and in the years to come.

What Not to Do

Drink Too Much

The number one thing to remember not to do, is drink too much. The best thing to do is stick to one drink, and there’s a good reason behind it. Research shows that people who drink alcohol at an event or place where they have never done so previously (for example, the office) tend to be more uninhibited than those who drink the same amount in a place they are familiar with (CNN). Try to limit yourself to one drink during the party to ensure you remember all the fun memories with your co-workers.

Treat the Event like a Singles Mixer

The next major don’t at your office event is don’t flirt with your co-workers. The company holiday celebration is not a singles mixer, so stay professional and respectful to other attendees. Flirting, or acting in a provocative manner, can make your coworkers uncomfortable and even lose respect for you. Office festivities are a great way to see your coworkers differently and mingle on a more personal level, however, be sure you don’t cross the line into flirtatious behavior, opening yourself and the company up to potential harassment claims.

Partake in Gossip

When in an after-hours setting, it’s easy to get caught up in office gossip, especially with your group of closest colleagues. It’s important to remember that the office gathering is a social event and attended by more than just your closest group of co-workers. The possibility someone may overhear something they weren’t meant to is much greater. You don’t have to only talk about work, but think about the company’s, and your own, reputation before engaging in gossip about anyone you work with.

Bring the Wrong Plus-One

Before bringing a guest to the event, first make sure a plus-one is allowed. Bringing an uninvited guest is a celebration don’t. If guests are allowed, remember your guest is a reflection on you as well, so their behavior is just as important as your own.  You should never bring someone who you know will act inappropriately.

What to Do

Dress Appropriately

You want to make sure you dress appropriately for a work event, and not attend over or under-dressed. If the attire is formal, you can dress up more than you would a regular day at work. If the attire is more casual, then what you normally wear to work- or business casual- is appropriate. Even if there is a theme- such as an Ugly Holiday Sweater theme- keep any imagery and wording work appropriate.

Greet and Thank the Host

When you arrive, make an effort to greet everyone you work with and thank the host (most likely your boss or higher up) for setting things up and inviting you. An acceptable amount of time to stay and talk to someone is five minutes, or by the third sip of your drink. If you need a topic of conversation, try asking your co-worker what they like to do when they’re not at work.

Mingle with Different Departments

Office events are a great way to converse with co-workers you don’t normally work with on a daily basis. Be sure to introduce yourself to anyone you don’t know, and use this as an opportunity to thank others in a different department who make your job a little easier.

Exercise Proper Phone Etiquette

You don’t want to keep checking your phone while in the middle of a conversation. This is not the time or place to be texting or constantly checking social media. Resist the urge to have your phone out, and when you need to check it, do so away from the crowd and privately. If you want to put your phone to good use, you can use it to take appropriate photos to share on social media.

The Responsible Holiday Celebrations at the Workplace webinar discusses do’s and don’ts for employers and employees, legal aspects, and alternative options during the pandemic. QBS promotes industry-best practices, resources, and HR services to ensure clients have the tools and resources they need to run a successful business, including after-hour functions. For more information or questions you may have regarding office party best practices and/or related resources, contact QBS.


Cleverism- 20 Holiday Office Party Do’s and Don’ts

CNN- The No-Regrets Plan for Your Office Party

Ebn- Employers are Turning to Virtual Alternatives to Replace Holiday Parties this Year