The annual office holiday party — it’s that time of the year again when your workplace trades in its professional attire for festive ensembles, and colleagues gather outside the office. We get it — hanging out with coworkers outside of work may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. But it’s an important part of office culture that shouldn’t be missed. 

We want to make sure you have a great time! Here are some tips to help you navigate your company holiday party and leave with no regrets.

First order of business… actually go. 

Hanging out with colleagues outside of work isn’t for everyone. But it’s important that you at least show up. Things will inevitably happen at the party that people will be talking about for a long time and you don’t want to have FOMO every time it comes up in conversation. Unless you have a pretty serious excuse — family emergency, out of town, an illness, etc. — there is no reason to not be there. Prioritize it. 

A group of people cheers-ing with glass of beer.
Photo by Yutacar on Unsplash

The most obvious: Don’t overindulge.

Unless your company prefers a cash bar or no bar at all, the booze will be flowing. We know open bars can be tempting, especially if there are specialty cocktails and your favorite beers and wines, but you have to be careful. Overindulgence will not only cause a physical hangover in the morning, it could result in a pretty hefty moral hangover. Don’t be the topic of conversation for the foreseeable future. As your parents probably told you: Make good choices. And drink plenty of water!

Lay a good base.

This one is great advice for avoiding the former. It’s likely there will be snacks — maybe dinner — but it’s always good to lay a good base before you arrive just in case. Doing anything on an empty stomach is a poor choice. But filling your belly with booze can make this an even poorer choice. 

Participate in the activities.

Whether it’s a card game or a dance competition, get out of your comfort zone and participate. The people who planned the party likely put thought and effort into activities, so show appreciation and be a team player!

Follow the dress code.

You don’t want to roll up to a formal dinner party wearing jeans and crop top. And you don’t want to roll up to a dive bar wearing an old prom dress. Make sure you check the dress code. If it’s not noted on the invitation or hasn’t been shared another way, confirm with the host. 

Make sure it’s okay to bring a plus-one. 

Again, if it’s not clear, make sure you confirm it’s okay to bring your plus-one. And be thoughtful about who your plus-one is. It’s likely not a great idea to bring your 10-year-old unless the party will be catered toward families. Additionally, etiquette may suggest that it’s not okay to bring a friend to the party. Be mindful about guests… and make sure you prepare them for anything awkward they may experience.  

Groups of coworkers talking at a holiday party
Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

Keep the conversations light-hearted.

Leave the politics, depressing world events, and work complaints for the office and the “Air Your Grievances” Slack channel. Keep your conversations positive and casual. If someone “goes there,” try to redirect the conversation. Additionally, don’t be cliquey and only speak to the same group of people you would if you were in the office. Branch off and share conversations with everyone! 

Don’t be boring or look bored. 

No one likes a party pooper. You don’t have to be the life of the party, but you should absolutely be present. That means no scrolling, texting, or spending too much time petting the dogs and cats that might be around. That being said, if you are bored, it’s probably best to say goodbye and head home.


Holiday parties are a great way to let loose and get to know your colleagues better. And though you don’t necessarily need to be on your best behavior, you’ll want to avoid anything that’s gonna stick with you and be the topic of conversation back in the office. Grab your party pants and have a great time!

Kadi McDonald is a freelance writer, marketing strategist, and proud Cleveland sports fan.