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Company Holiday Party: Do's and Don'ts

Updated on November 22, 2012
ChrisMcDade8 profile image

Christine McDade is a Human Resources professional (PHR & SHRM-CP) with over 18 years in the public sector.

Christine McDade is an experienced Human Resources Manager.

Holiday parties can be a festive time for all to enjoy.
Holiday parties can be a festive time for all to enjoy. | Source
Drinking alcoholic beverages in excess may  lead to problems for an employee at company events.
Drinking alcoholic beverages in excess may lead to problems for an employee at company events. | Source

Whether it is the annual holiday party at the local Holiday Inn or the summer picnic at the lake, employers like to offer a time for celebration to its employees for all of the hard work they do to make the company successful. Time away from the office with other employees and their spouses in an organized, yet festive, setting can be a good opportunity for employees to get to know one another better. It can be a time to celebrate the work effort that employees deliver, side by side, each day. Furthermore, employees can get a sense of appreciation from the boss, who might normally, not give open credit or recognition that may be due.

While such events are designed to celebrate the hard work and dedication of the employees in the workplace, it is important for employees to remember that the celebration is a work event that must be respected as such. Although the time and place of the party may be outside of work hours and off-site of work, employees who participate must remember that any poor behavior or participation in unsavory activities will likely reflect poorly on them at work. Attending these company functions should be enjoyable without causing an employee embarrassment that follows them back to work on Monday morning.

A List of "Don'ts" for Employees

Having fun and socializing on one's own time is significantly different from a company sponsored event. While the following list is not all encompassing, it does provide some good ideas of unsatisfactory behaviors that employees may want to avoid. Consider the following:

  • Don't waste a good opportunity to support the company. While many employees choose not to participate in company events during non business hours, especially when they are voluntary, these events are excellent opportunities to show support for the company. Being seen and heard by management at these events can be beneficial as it shows some loyalty to the company.
  • Don't drink too much. As alcohol is often served at these events, it will be prudent to not "over do it" by drinking a lot to become inebriated. Individuals make foolish decisions when they are under the influence of alcohol. To avoid being the topic of gossip at the water cooler on Monday morning, stick to non-alcoholic beverages or practice moderation in your consumption.
  • Don't dress inappropriately or provocatively. Most of these events allow for personal choice in the selection of wardrobe. For example, that little black dress that leaves little to the imagination of those who see it should be left in the closet for another special event. While such a look might get the attention of certain members of the work team, it may provide an unfavorable impression that will remain with management for a long time. When it is time to be considered for a promotion or choice job assignment, the memory of an inappropriate look may not bode well for the employee.
  • Don't bring too much office talk to the party. Approaching a supervisor to discuss a a work issue or a problem when Christmas music is blaring in the background can be a real "downer" for everyone within earshot of the conversation. Since the company is sponsoring the event with the idea of having "fun" and celebrating, keep work talk at work.

A List of "Do's" for Employees

The reason for a planned company event is to celebrate meeting year end goals, the overall work efforts of personnel or just a chance to have a little fun. Employees work hard for their employers and certainly deserve a night out or a chance to enjoy their coworkers in a relaxed, upbeat setting. There are many things they can do to make the event a positive experience. Consider the following:

  • Do arrive to the event on time. While there is bound to be a schedule of events, an employee will be prudent to arrive at the scheduled time to avoid missing any important announcements, speeches or conversations with leadership. Being fashionably late may leave an employee in the dark to an important happening at the event. For example, the employee who arrives late and learns that the boss had been looking for him/her to recognize them in front of co-workers will be missing out on an important opportunity.
  • Do introduce the person attending the event as a guest to co-workers and management. Employees should be sure to introduce spouses or guests as they will not know many people at the function, and will feel a bit out of place. Besides just being good manners, it will show co-workers that the employee values this person and thinks enough of them to share the experience with them. Such behavior will be a good reflection of the employee's character.
  • Do make a point to say hello to leadership at the event. Simply doing so to make sure the boss sees that an appearance has been made is not the point. Rather, it provides an opportunity to have some one on one time, even for a moment, with leadership. The more times one spends with management will let them get to know the employee and even improve their confidence.
  • Do enjoy the experience. The purpose of these employee events is to provide some enjoyment to employees. While holiday parties, picnics, etc., may seem like a pain from time to time, they can be positive opportunities for both employees and management. Getting to spend time with co-workers to dine, dance, and have some laughs can certainly build relationships between employees who might normally not have much opportunity to get to know one another at work.


Attending company holiday parties and other events should not be a dreaded occasion for employees. While having to attend a "work" event during "personal" or non-business hours may not be an employee's first choice of things to do, employees can seize the occasion as an opportunity to participate in a company event that is certainly important to the management who authorized it. Because the event can be a good reflection of the employee and his/her potential to be a loyal member of the team, employees should enjoy the event without spoiling the experience by acting inappropriate in front of co-workers and management.


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    • ChrisMcDade8 profile image

      Christine McDade 5 years ago from Southwest Florida

      Thanks for the comments. Going to these holiday parties can be a great opportunity for employees to unwind with co workers and celebrate the season. Unfortunately, it is easy for people to forget that they are company functions which require some restraint and some forethought about the purpose of such events.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Your hubs are always so well written and right on point. These are good suggestions and this is a great guide for workers! Voted up!

    • laurathegentleman profile image

      laurathegentleman 5 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      This is a great Hub, especially in time for the holiday season! Some of these seem straightforward, but you'd be surprised with what some people think is appropriate nowadays!