holiday office party faux pax

This time of year, holiday office parties are bound to pop up on your schedule… and that's great. I love a good holiday office party — especially since that's often when bonuses are passed out!

Most of the time, holiday office parties are a positive and relatively casual affair; however, if you don't spend at least a little time preparing for the party in advance, these parties can be the source of much anxiety and awkwardness — for both you, and everyone else around you.

Here are 10 holiday office party faux pax you will most definitely want to avoid this holiday season!

1. Don't drink too much.

For obviously reasons, this one is at the top of the list!

Even the most "in control" drinkers can say and do some really inappropriate things while under the influence — and as you'll read below, there are already so many faux pax for office parties, you don't need the added strain of being somewhat tipsy during the party.

2. Don't wear the wrong thing.

While you shouldn't dress overly-scandalous or  super-revealing clothing, you also probably won't want to show up very over or under dressed compare to the rest of the guests.

Make sure you know the dress code well in advance of the party so you have time to find the appropriate outfit ahead of time.

I've been to many office holiday parties ranging from black tie to very casual — and it would have been extremely awkward for me if I hadn't dressed appropriately.

Oh, and unless you have a very special staff, it's probably not appropriate to come dressed as Santa, an Elf, or any other holiday characters!

3. Don't be late…or too early.

If it's not a "come as you wish" type of party, you need to know what time the party starts. If people will be waiting for you to get started (or worse, to start eating) you NEED to be on time.

However, you also most likely don't want to be more than 10-15 minutes early as it's always a bit awkward (both for you and the host) if you're hanging around aimlessly and trying to create small-talk for 45 minutes before anyone else arrives.

4. Don't bring uninvited guests.

In general, I would guess that your office holiday party is probably a "no kids allowed" type of event — however, you don't know for sure unless you ask.

Also, make sure you know if you are expected (or at the very least, allowed) to bring a spouse or significant other. I've been to some parties where you are expected to bring a guest, and others where it was JUST employees — no one else.

It certainly would be quite uncomfortable to show up with a guest to an employees-only party!

5. Don't share too many details about your personal life.

It's one thing to casually talk about your cute kiddos, your out-of-town holiday guests, or a recent family vacation. It's totally another thing to go on and on and ON about your personal life — especially if it's anything negative or very private.

An office party is NOT the time to air your dirty laundry, complain about an ex-spouse, or berate your poor financial situation. This type of conversation will most certainly make the other people involved feel uncomfortable — and it will probably label you as an "over-sharer" for years to come.

6. Don't bad-talk any employees or your work in general.

To be perfectly honest, we probably shouldn't be talking bad about anyone at work to anyone else from work. If we have a problem or issue with a specific employee, we need to go directly to them… right?

However, I know that's not always the case — so in the very least, DON'T bad-talk any employees, coworkers, and certainly not your boss at the office holiday party.

You just never know who might over-hear your conversation; I have personally known people who were fired because of inappropriate conversations at their office holiday party.

7. Don't post real-time events or photos on social media.

In general, I'd suggest leaving your phone in your pocket — only in case of emergencies with the babysitter!

No pictures that could potentially come back to haunt you later. No social media posts that could come back to bite you (or a mis-typed word/phrase that could imply something totally different!)

None of your social media friends care that you're at an office party, so if you want to post a few pictures or brief statement the following day, that's fine. Just don't do anything rash AT the actual party.

8. Don't arrive without the appropriate gift.

Know what's expected in terms of gift-giving. Do you need to bring a gift for everyone or just a gift to pass? If so, what type of give? A gag gift, a white elephant gift, a gender-specific or gender-neutral gift, a gift at a set price point, a gift card?

Does the gift need to be wrapped or not? Does it need a tag or should it be left anonymous?

Is there a specific cause that your coworkers are all pitching in and donating towards? If so, are you expected to contribute?

Finally, is this the type of event where you should bring a hostess gift? If so, what would an appropriate hostess gift be?

I realize this is a lot to think about, but by asking around the office ahead of time, or just paying attention to the party invitation, you should be prepared with an appropriate gift, if necessary.

9. Don't forget about food allergies.

If you need to bring a dish to pass (or even baked goods as a gift) make sure you note questionable ingredients or possible allergens. You certainly don't want someone to stop breathing because of the food you brought!

I always play it safe by bringing the full recipe card so anyone can verify the exact ingredients in my food. This is also a great conversation starter and a really convenient way to share recipes if anyone asks!

10. Don't get too friendly with coworkers of the opposite sex.

I'm saving the best for last here…

Even if you are both single, the office holiday party is a really, REALLY bad time to start flirting with anyone else from your office.

Not only will it reflect poorly on you, it could make others feel uncomfortable, and depending on your office policy, it could result in one of your positions being terminated.

By avoiding some of these common (and very awkward) office party faux pax, you'll save yourself loads of embarrassment — and maybe even your job!

What else would you add to my list?

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