What You Should and Should Not Do at an Office Party

When you have to go to an office party, whether it's a holiday celebration or a summer picnic, you should be careful not to check your professional reputation at the door. While this event will give you the opportunity to socialize with your coworkers, you should be aware that it is still a work event. Follow these tips and you will be able to return to the office with your head held high.

Don't Drink Too Much

Office Party
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Since alcohol lowers your inhibitions and alters your judgement, drinking too much can make you do things you may later regret. Limit yourself to just one or two drinks, depending on how you typically react to alcohol. You may think that having three drinks isn't too much, but even if you feel you can handle your alcohol quite well, you should keep in mind that perception is everything. You want to avoid looking like you're drinking too much, even if having several drinks doesn't have much of an effect on you.

Don't Treat the Office Party Like a Singles Bar

Coworkers flirting at office party
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An office party gives you a chance to see another side of your coworkers. However, you shouldn't try to get to know any of them too well. Jim (or Jane) from accounting may suddenly look a lot more appealing under bar lights than cubicle lights. Ignore your animal instincts. Workplace romances—or worse, one night stands—can be disastrous.

Don't Flirt or Act in a Sexually Provactive Manner

Office Party
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Your flirting may be entirely innocent (if it's not please see Tip #2), but the message it sends to your colleagues isn't. If you want to be respected on a professional level—and avoid sexual harassment claims—save this side of yourself for parties with friends. 

Wear Something Festive, But Nothing Revealing

Party Clothes
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Put on something festive for your office party if you wish, but refrain from wearing clothing that is too revealing. Stay away from low cut tops, unbuttoned shirts and tight pants and outfits that show too much skin. Sparkles, bright colors and sequins are appropriate, but try to maintain the same decorum you would for a typical day at work.

Keep Your Guard Up

Drunk at Office Party
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People tend to relax at office parties. Have fun but don't lose sight of the fact that you have a reputation to protect. If you forget to do that, you might let your coworkers see something you'd rather not reveal in a professional setting. Alcohol is often a contributing factor, so be sure to pay careful attention to Tip #1.

Don't Tell Dirty Jokes

Telling Jokes at Office Party
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You should be able to keep things somewhat light at an office party. Tell some jokes if you want to, but be very careful not to offend your coworkers or boss (or worse, his or her boss). Many people are put off by dirty jokes, so refrain from telling any. 

Put Your Phone Away

Texting At an Office Party
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Spend time socializing instead of looking at your phone constantly. The point of an office party is to spend time with your coworkers. If you are focused on social media or your email, you won't be able to pay attention to the festivities. If you must check your phone occasionally, slip away to do so. Of course, keep your phone handy for taking pictures!

Don't Talk About People Behind Their Backs

Gossiping at an Office Party
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Just because someone is absent from the office party, it doesn't give you a reason to gossip behind his back. In addition to the fact that it's just not nice, this person's friends may be present, and word could get back to him.

Don't Bring Uninvited Guests

Office Party Guests
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Some office parties are for employees only. Don't assume it's okay to bring your significant other or someone else without asking if it's okay. Your boss may not be thrilled about paying for another mouth to feed and think about how uncomfortable your unwanted guest will feel.

Don't Underestimate the Importance of Your Guest's Behavior

Office Party Guest
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If you are invited with a plus-one, choose wisely when deciding who to ask. You don't want to bring anyone who will behave inappropriately, even if that someone is your significant other (or maybe especially if he or she is your significant other). His or her bad behavior will reflect poorly on you. Your guest should follow the same rules to which you are expected to adhere. 

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