The Office Party: What to Wear and How to Act

Use the Office Party to Further Your Career Not Ruin It!

The office Christmas Party can be a great opportunity to let off steam with the people you spend a good part of your life with.  If you play it right, it can be great fun and an opportunity to build important relationships within your organisation. Get it wrong and you can ruin a carefully crafted career and reputation by doing one or more of the following: wearing the wrong outfit, forgetting where you are, who you’re with and the importance of maintaining good manners.

Think carefully when choosing your outfit.

This is not the place to bear all with plunging necklines or watch -strap mini skirts. Go for a classy evening look by wearing a classy dress, dressing up a great pair of trousers or skirt with amazing shoes, an eye catching necklace or sparkly top/ shrug.

Make up can be more dramatic in the evening by choosing to either play up the lips in richer, deeper colours, or the eyes but not both.  Spray tan or bronzer will look great in the evening, providing you don’t go for the tangerine orange look. Prep skin by exfoliating all over and add a good moisturiser to face and body. Put a glow on your face with a rich moisturising mask like Elemis or Sisley if you’re feeling expensive or go for an affordable range like Boots own brand.

Adding a pair of sparkly earrings or necklace to a day- into- evening outfit will add instant oomph as will killer heels and perhaps a tuxedo jacket or satin waistcoat. If solid black drains you when worn next to face, soften it down by choosing black lace around the neck line or add a statement necklace or a shrug in a colour that really suits you. Don’t fall victim to the snide sniggers of office critics by dressing in overly figure hugging Lycra that shows lumps and bumps: it’s best to let garments skim rather than cling but do choose outfits that are feminine and figure flattering . If you’re going to be gyrating around the dance floor, don’t let it ‘all hang out’. Make sure your outfit, hosiery, make- up and hair will all stay firmly in place.

Remember Your P’s and Q’s !

It’s not just about your appearance, don’t drop your guard on the good manners front either when it comes to eating and socialising. This is an opportunity to enhance your skills and reputation. If there’s a buffet here are a few golden rules:

  • Wash your hands before handling food
  • Don’t jump the queue and don’t leap up to be first. Use the queue to chat to colleagues: it may be a chance to break the ice with a colleague you’ve never spoken to before and will help to widen your networking influence; all the more reason for staying sober!
  • Don’t pile up your plate, be moderate- you can always go back for more
  • Steer clear of foods that are very difficult to eat or will leave your breath smelling of something pungent
  • Do not eat food as you pass through the buffet line
  • Always use the tongs and serving spoons provided and do not pass one to another as someone may have allergies, be kosher or vegetarian
  • Do not dip food into dips, put the dip onto your plate with a spoon
  • Use a separate plate for a dessert. Go back for this after you have eaten your savory course. If you go back for seconds, leave your used plate and cutlery at your table. The waiters should have your used dishes and cutlery removed prior to you returning to the table with a new plate of food. Put the knife and fork side by side in a 4/10 or 6/12 position to indicate to the wait staff that you have finished.
  • Do not ask for a doggie bag.
  • Unlike at a formal dinner, it’s fine to start eating on your return to the table even if others have not returned. Cut up your food into small pieces and use a knife and fork and a napkin which should be in your lap not tucked into your shirt. Bring your food up to your mouth using the proper utensils. Do not move your head down to the food on your plate. When eating soup, place your spoon in the front of the bowl and move your spoon to the back of the bowl, catch the drip as your spoon touches the back of the bowl and then bring the spoon up to your mouth and sip from the side of the spoon. Do not blow on your soup or food to cool it down.
  • Make a decision before hand how much, if any, alcohol you will drink and stick to it. Spritz your wine with water and beware of waiters who top up your glass without you being aware
  • Make an effort to make conversation with those on your table and ensure you chat to the people on both sides and in front of you, where possible. Keep conversation light, un -political and avoid talk of illness or depressing topics. At all costs, don’t start or get drawn into gossip. Showing a genuine interest in the people around you is real skill as well as something most people enjoy.  If this is difficult for you, don’t avoid the situation altogether, make time to learn from those who are good at it. Notice what they say and how they say it. Make sure you stay relaxed and calm and be yourself, especially if sharing a table with the office ‘heavyweights’.
  • If you are a senior member of staff, it is crucial that you treat this as an opportunity to talk to junior staff and show an interest in who they are as people, even more so their partners. You miss a leadership opportunity if you only socialise with other leaders. It’s time to move out of your comfort zone and set an example.

Go Easy on the Dance Floor!images

If there’s dancing, enjoy it but beware of compromising flirtations that you’ll regret the next day! Many a good relationship, not to mention a good career, breaks up because of careless behaviour at the Christmas party. Worse still, beware of office predators  (every office has at least one) who are waiting to ensnare you at this event. If the dance floor’s all about the ‘young and hip’ ones, think carefully about ‘strutting your stuff’ if you’re well over the age of 40! Keep your wits about you, prepare thoughtfully and you’re sure to wake up the next morning pleased you had a great time and knowing you kept your reputation intact and even enhanced it.

Remember, everything you wear, say and do will make an impression on your colleagues. Use social occasions like these to make sure it’s a favourable one.

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