Avoid These Embarrassing Holiday Party Gaffes

Nearly every office has a legend – often shared in whispers near the coffee machine – of some colleague who did something really memorable at a holiday office party. You don’t want to be that person.

Staffing firm Robert Half recently collected some examples of memorable holiday party behavior, and shared some tips on how to conduct your own parties.

The firm polled chief financial officers, and got an earful. According to CFOs, these are some of the standout events witnessed at holiday parties:

They reported bosses have:

  • Turned a dance contest into a brawl
  • Opened someone else’s gift
  • Thrown food
  • Slept under a table
  • Tried walking across a swimming pool and – not surprisingly – fell into it
  • Used obscene language
  • Taken inappropriate pictures in a photo booth
  • Broken an ankle while break dancing
  • Fought with a boss
  • Screamed like a werewolf
  • Announced a resignation

Managers have:

  • Sat in a corner without interacting with anyone
  • Left within 10 minutes
  • Failed to show up
  • Discussed confidential company information
  • Talked negatively about coworkers

Accordingly, Robert Half has these tops for managers who plan to attend holiday parties:

  • You’re still the boss. Show your lighter side, but remember employees will look to you as an example even outside of the office.
  • Don’t be a barfly. Never overindulge in alcohol. Many of the mishaps CFOs witnessed came after someone had too much to drink.
  • Loose lips sink ships. It’s never appropriate to reveal confidential information about your company or coworkers. If you’re worried about not having enough to talk about, come up with a list of safe topics – weekend plans, movie reviews, food – before the event.
  • This is a good career opportunity. You may have the chance to speak with executives and others with whom you don’t normally interact. Have fun at the party, keeping in mind it’s also a time for you to expand your internal network and build your visibility.
  • Keep the focus on staff. Celebrate your team, and give them their moment. By ceding the spotlight, you’ll show how much you appreciate their contributions.
  • You need to go back to work the next day. A tabletop nap, alcohol-powered soliloquy or inappropriate dance routine may feel like a one-time blunder but you’ll need to face everyone as soon as you’re back in the office. In other words, don’t be that guy or girl everyone is gossiping about the next morning.

Above all, avoid the urge to put a lampshade on your head and sing off-key.

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