You can be the life of your company's end-of-the-year party while leaving the embarrassing next-day apologies to someone else.
Step 1: Go even if you don't want to A holiday soiree is like a staff meeting—just with more booze. Although the invitation won't tell you this, it's a work function, so attendance is mandatory. Also, before you invite a friend along for the ride, talk to the organizers and confirm whether "plus ones' are permitted.
TIP: Arrive shortly after the party begins, and stay until other people begin to leave.
Step 2: Eat before you go While the drinks are guaranteed, the food isn't. Eat enough before you go so you can have a drink without feeling tipsy, and so you won't need to raid the hors d'oeuvres.
TIP: It's tacky and unhygienic to double-dip.
Step 3: Dress appropriately Check with the organizer to confirm the dress code, and wear a tasteful, appropriate outfit.
Step 4: Mingle Mingle and introduce yourself. Now is the perfect time to network with those happily tipsy execs who don't quite know you yet.
TIP: Drink a glass of water in between each cocktail. If your significant other is there, keep the PDAs to a minimum.
Step 5: Be professional Have fun, but be professional. The rules of the office still apply, so no gossiping, no over-sharing, no getting wasted, and no sexual contact with your co-workers.
Step 6: Keep it light Keep the conversation positive and light. Try to avoid talking about the office, monopolizing the conversation, or correcting people.
Step 7: Drink with your left hand If you've got a drink, hold it in your left hand. That way, your right hand will be clean and dry for handshakes.
Step 8: Beware of "merry Christmas" We know you mean well, but be wary of wishing people a "merry Christmas." Since not everyone celebrates Santa's big day, you're less likely to offend folks if you wish them "happy holidays."
Step 9: Express appreciation Before you hightail it out of there, make sure you sincerely thank the party organizers. It only takes a minute, and you'll come off like a class act.
FACT: The top gaffe employees make at holiday parties is drunkenness, while flirting with coworkers or a colleague's spouse comes in at number two.