Job Advice

Avoid a Holiday Horror Story: Celebrate Professionally

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October 2, 2015
Now that fall is here, the holidays are just around the corner. For many of us, that means taking part in holiday celebrations with bosses and coworkers. My advice? Don’t wind up a Halloween horror story because you were the only one in costume and you were dressed like a zombie from the “Walking Dead.”

Remember, it’s still business as usual even during the holidays. Follow these tips to make a great impression all year long.

Know the Culture
Every company has different holiday policies and traditions.

  • If Halloween costumes are OK, avoid anything too provocative that shows a lot of skin or so elaborate that you can’t actually do your job.
  • Ask if the company is open on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day, and New Year’s Eve/Day and whether you are expected to work. Knowing your holiday schedule in advance makes it easier to plan ahead.
  • If there is an office party, a shared meal, or gift exchange, participation should be optional. Don’t feel pressure to participate if you have personal, financial, or religious reasons for not doing so.
  • If you want to give a gift at work, keep it simple. Avoid anything too personal, like perfume, red roses, clothing, or alcohol. Homemade cookies, cakes, or other treats are good options.

Mind Your Manners
Even in social settings, your coworkers and boss will notice what you say and do.

  • Is the event casual or formal? Dress to be festive but appropriate. Never bring a spouse, children, or date unless you know they are welcome.
  • Don’t complain or gossip about others. Whether it’s your spouse, kids, in-laws or co-workers, take the high road and speak positively about everyone.
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol. A two-drink maximum is a good rule of thumb. If you are underage, don’t drink. Period.
  • Not everyone celebrates Christmas. Many people celebrate Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, so be considerate and respectful of coworkers and customers during the holidays.

Mix & Mingle
Company parties are a great opportunity to socialize with coworkers and your boss.

  • Try not to pass up an invitation to the company party without good reason. You don’t have to stay longer than an hour, but at least make an appearance.
  • Don’t spend the entire party with the same people. Say hello and mingle with others. Hold drinks in your left hand so you can shake with your right. Introduce yourself to senior leadership and managers, expressing appreciation for the party.
  • Talk about something other than work. Don’t talk too much about yourself, but do show an interest in others. Ask about their families, hobbies, and interests. Avoid inappropriate jokes and sensitive subjects like religion or politics.

Don’t trick yourself! Celebrate smart this holiday season and you’ll have a great start to 2016.