As we enter into the holiday season, it is a time for mirth and merrymaking.  For some, December holiday season is a something to look forward to all year – a time to finish things off, to celebrate a year’s worth of achievements, and to blow off some steam.  But for many, the holiday season is “mandatory fun” season, which brings stress, angina, and forced after-hour interactions with people you barely know.

One of the worst parts of the holiday season are the office holiday parties.  If you have a partner or a spouse, then you’re obligated to go to at least two.  And if you’re in a white collar, professional services organization, it’s not unheard of to go to a dozen holiday parties – or more – across your company, your clients, your prospects, and your partners.  If you don’t go, then people may think of you in the back of their minds as “not a team player”.  This is, of course, unfair and unwarranted, but them’s the rules.

It can be utterly exhausting and demoralizing to go to one – or yet one more – office holiday party.  And let’s not even get into the horror show of finding child care on a December night when the supply of sitters is low but the demand for care is incredibly high.  But often, it’s incumbent that you go.  Few excuses meet the bar for non-attendance, so it’s important to go and to do what you can to be a good team player.  But for the great many who have trouble mustering up the courage and energy to have a successful office holiday party or eighteen, here are some tips that may help:

  • Show up late

If you show up late, the people who matter – the bosses and the event planners – may not notice your attendance.  But you’ll also be able to take selfies with folks to prove you showed up and you’ll be there for the peak of the party’s energy.

  • Stay as little as possible

If you show up late (good!), it’s almost impossible to leave too early.  Two hours – regardless of when you show up – is enough time to both bump into the folks you must meet as well as to grab a drink, hang out with the folks you want to see, and make your drawn-out and awkward goodbye.

  • Don’t get drunk

Look, it’s painful and awkward to be there.  Getting in line for a drink, sipping a drink, and commenting on your drink are all acceptable ways to make or avoid small talk.  If you’re going to be there for a long time, drinking as a time filler can quickly go from a survival tactic to a minefield.

  • Remember that these are not your friends or your family

Getting tipsy – or really letting loose – with people you love and trust is wonderful.  You can be free, blow off steam, sing some songs, and have a good ol’ time.  What you can also do, that you may not appreciate, is make mistakes.  You can recall a bad anecdote, slur your words, or make a fool of yourself.  These people love you.  Others may not.  In the spirit of helping, we made a handy image that you can print out and fold up into your pocket in case you forget who’s also there with you:

If you want some more holiday party survival advice, here are some links we’ve put together for you:

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/evan-thompson/an-introvert-s-guide-to-surviving-office-holiday-parties_a_23300309/

http://www.businessinsider.com/tips-for-surviving-your-office-holiday-party-2017-12/#1-ask-about-the-dress-code-ahead-of-time-1

http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/expert-tips-navigating-office-holiday-party-grace/story?id=51565241

http://www.businessinsider.com/things-not-to-say-at-the-office-holiday-party-2017-12/#9-everythings-going-pretty-well-in-our-department–9 

Happy holidays!