It’s that time of the year again. Work has slowed to a manageable pace and you’ve received an inbox full of invitations that span November through the beginning of January. Although you’ll have to decide which invites to entertain, there are some basic rules of holiday party etiquette that bear mentioning and serve as good, standard advice for every professional.
Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind this holiday season:
1.Don’t bring a guest unless the invite says you can. The only thing worse than being an uninvited guest, is to show up with one. Check the invitation twice—make sure that the RSVP allows for an extra person to come along. If not, you may be inviting ridicule, embarrassment or worse, a bit ofscolding your way. If in doubt or your acceptance is contingent on bringing a guest, ask the host first.
2. Do dress appropriately. Depending on the venue and the scale of the event, fashion guidelines can run the gamut of casual to white tie. But, you’ll want to make sure that you are appropriately attired, no matter what the parameters are. Fashion faux pas can make you feel self-conscious and ruin your holiday fun. Don’t run the risk of standing out like a sore thumb. If the invitation doesn’t specify or provide sufficient context, ask the host just to be sure. Want guidelines that you can reference whenever you need them? Check out these excellent dress code guidelines from Emily Post.
3. Don’t indulge in excessive alcoholic beverages. Feel like you want to let your hair down at the holiday soiree? Not so fast. Drinking more than you can handle can compromise your professional image and cause others to question your decision making long after the last call. If having more than a drink or two may send you into a drunken frenzy, consider limiting yourself to one. Perhaps forgoing alcohol all together may even be a better choice. Remember, this is a public event. Unfortunately people will assume your behavior (or misbehavior as the case may be) is indicative of your overall standards of professionalism.
4. Do ask permission before taking that photo. Guests may not take too kindly to having an unexpected photo op, especially with the likelihood of alcohol influencing their behavior and composure. Be sure that everyone is on board before reaching for your inner paparazzi. Furthermore, even agreed-to photos may have limited use. Be careful about taking them to the virtual streets. There may be good reasons why certain individuals would not want to appear in the virtual marketplace. It’s best to understand that before you take to social posting.
5. Don’t be a scrooge. There’s no reason to attend a holiday gathering if you have no intentions of being cheerful and having fun. Have you ever seen a disgruntled person enter a room and immediately take the temperature down by 50 degrees? It’s a real drag. If you’re upset, looking to settle a score or going through a rough time, you may want to reconsider your RSVP. If you are unable or unwilling to compartmentalize those feelings while mingling with guests for a few short hours, it’s probably a better idea not to attend. Developing a reputation as a party pooper will keep your name off the guestlists—of any kind—for the foreseeable future.
To your success!
Karima Mariama-Arthur Esq. is the founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. Follow her on Twitter: @wsrapport or visit her website, WordSmithRapport.com.