Do’s and Don’ts for Holiday Party Success

Competence is one of the four keys to career and life success in my Common Sense Success System.  I also discuss it in some detail in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success; Your Success GPS; and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.  If you want to succeed you need to develop four basic, but important competencies: 1) creating positive personal impact; 2) becoming a consistently high performer; 3) dynamic communication skills; and 4) becoming interpersonally competent. 

There are four key competencies that will help you become a career and life success:

  • You have to be able to create positive personal impact.
  • You have to be become an outstanding performer.
  • You have to be a dynamic communicator – in conversation, writing and presentations.
  • You have to build strong, lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the important people in your life.

Holiday parties provide the opportunity to create or negate positive personal impact.  As it’s the holiday season, I thought I’d take a few minutes to provide some common sense do’s and don’ts when attending company sponsored holiday party events.

Do: arrive on time, not too early or too late.  Arrive within 15 minutes of the scheduled beginning of the event.
Don’t: be the last one to leave, or ask for “one for the road.”

Do: introduce yourself to senior executives in attendance.  Chat with them for a few minutes and then move on.
Don’t: monopolize senior executive’s time, or launch into a monologue on what needs to be changed in the company.

Do: introduce yourself to colleagues in other departments who you do not know.
Don’t: use the event as an opportunity to highlight problems between your departments and your suggestions for fixing them.

Do: greet people you meet with a smile and a handshake.
Don’t: use the mistletoe as an opportunity to get next to the hot guy or gal you’re crushing on.

Do: enjoy the food.
Don’t: spend the entire party at the buffet table.

Do: have a glass of wine or a beer.
Don’t: get hammered.  Remember what Samuel Johnson said. “Wine makes a man more pleased with himself. I do not say that it makes him more pleasing to others.

Do: have fun and wish your colleagues a happy holiday season.
Don’t: try to be the life of the party.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are competent at creating positive personal impact.  Company sponsored holiday parties provide an opportunity to enhance your personal impact.  They also provide an opportunity to destroy a lot of the positive personal impact you have built up over the past year.  Use your common sense when you attend a company sponsored event.  Be gracious and friendly.  Eat and drink in moderation.  Don’t be the first to arrive and the last to leave.  Have fun, but be conscious of the impact you’re making on others.

That’s my take on holiday parties and creating positive personal impact.  What’s yours?  Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts – and humorous stories from holiday parties past – with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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  1. What a great article on holiday office party etiquette. I could hardly have said it better myself. You got straight to the point so anyone reading your blog should clearly understand what to do and what not to do while mixing and mingling with coworkers and colleagues over food and drink.

  2. Lydia:
    Thanks for your comment. Coming from you this is high praise. You are my go to person for advice on businee etiquette.
    Happy holidays — enjoy the parties you attend.
    All the best,

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