Have you ever been invited to an office party? Maybe you were too afraid to accept in fear you of feeling obligated to attend. Or perhaps you were too afraid to decline in fear of being labeled a bore or an outcast. If you do attend, how do you act? Plenty of questions arise when it comes to a party involving your co-workers. In fact, for some people, mixing business with pleasure is simply out of the question. But for those of you who would like to mingle outside the office, I'd suggest following a few simple rules.
The first, and probably most important, thing to do is to monitor your alcohol intake. Just because you're out of the office setting does NOT mean your behavior isn't being judged. Not only do you not want to be known as the office alcoholic/lush, but you also don't want to say anything you will regret. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to arrive at work Monday morning to whispers and glares from your co-workers. Every corner you turn, you feel eyes watching you. Maybe you joked about something harmless, like the sweater Bill wears every Tuesday, or how thick Mary's glasses are. However, a harmless joke can quickly haunt you, and unfortunately you will have to live with being known as the office jerk until somebody else slips up.
Next, remember to always keep a professional and conservative demeanor. This doesn't just apply to your actions, but also your appearance. Office parties are not grounds to pull out your night club clothes. Do not wear anything too tight or revealing. You do not necessarily have to wear exactly what you would wear to work, but sticking close to it couldn't hurt.
In regard to behavior, anything that would be inappropriate for the office is most likely not appropriate for the office party. This includes flirting or making suggestive comments to co-workers. Even more important than avoiding this type of behavior directed towards your fellow employees is avoiding it towards your boss. Using alcohol/the party atmosphere to flirt with your boss may either be extremely self-destructive or flat-out embarrassing.
Also, avoid discussions about controversial topics, such as politics or religion. Your conversation topics should be chosen carefully. Only talking about work, complaining, whining, etc. is going to make you appear boring. By the end of the evening, everyone at the party will have learned to avoid engaging with you. Always remain positive, and try to mingle rather than only talk to the same few people. Getting to know a few of your superiors may turn out beneficial for the future of your career.
Timing is an important factor to take into account as well. There are two guidelines: Do not show up too close to the end of the party and do not be the last to leave. If you arrive at 10:40 P.M. and the party ends at 11:00 P.M., it's going to be quite obvious that you did not want to attend. Furthermore, it's not appropriate to party all night long.
One last thing to remember is who you should bring. If the invitation didn't include a guest/spouse, then do not bring one. However, if it did and you weren't aware, your spouse may not be very happy that you left him/her out. Equally as important, do not bring an inappropriate guest. Their actions are your responsibility.
Office party etiquette is not very complicated. Act and dress in a way that will not draw negative attention to yourself, and will not be a main topic of conversation on the following workday. Maintain a professional attitude and appearance, and allow yourself to have a good time.