When it comes to work social events, office holiday parties are pretty much the Super Bowl of coworker interaction. Just like the big game, the stakes feel high, the crowd can be large and it’s usually held at a neutral site for everyone involved. What should be seen as a positive experience and a show of employee appreciation is often approached with a collective groan. Why? Outside of the stress of preparing for the big event, a recent survey found that one-third of employees who attended work-sponsored parties did something they later regretted.


The combination of pre-party worry and post-party shame has led to a general feeling of dread when it comes to office holiday parties. Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be this way! If the holiday stress has you questioning your office holiday parties this season, we’ve got the answers you need to survive your next seasonal soiree.

“Do I have to go?”

Short answer: Yes. Depending on your office culture, this could very well be the biggest social event for the office this year! While any party is technically optional, passing on an opportunity to build memories beyond the day-to-day work of the office could be a major miss. These kinds of opportunities to form lasting bonds and deepen workplace connections can be invaluable. If, however, you do need to miss the festivities due to other obligations, be sure to clearly communicate your plans to the organizer, your manager and coworkers.

“What should I wear?”

Short answer: Business professional. The age old question of appropriate dress code at work functions never seems to go away. When in doubt, the same rule used for job interviews works here – dress slightly fancier than you think you’re required to, and you’ll never go wrong. However, most wardrobe and other essential questions should be answered by the company invitation, email or other holiday party announcement. If any of your questions are not answered there, be sure to reach out to a party organizer ahead of the event to ensure you’ve got the correct information.

“Who am I supposed to talk to?”

Short answer: Everyone! Okay, depending on the company size, it might not be possible to talk to every single person at all the office holiday parties you attend, but the idea here is variety. Sure, it may be easiest to just talk to the coworkers you interact with every day, but that’s defeating the purpose of an all-company event. Take this opportunity to get to know people you might not interact with otherwise! You never know when the conversation you have over hors d’oeuvres might lead to a productive connection on a future project.  

The best way to thrive in any job is to connect with a company’s culture on a meaningful level. To get to that point, it’s important to build relationships beyond day-to-day work responsibilities. If you’re questioning attending office holiday parties this season, the answer is usually simple – go forth and be merry!

Do you have any tips for office holiday parties you’d like to share? Join the conversation and post a comment below!