It's that time of year again....

The Business Holiday Party: Dread or Delight


Though it feels like it was just Labor Day, somehow we find ourselves in the throes of December. This week marks the start of the holiday party season in the business community.

All too often with business holiday parties, people make the mistake of emphasizing the latter descriptor and forgetting the former. That’s why we’re here to share some of the crazy holiday behavior we’ve observed over the years, for a laugh and a bit of a warning of what not to do this holiday season.

Dress to Impress  

Holiday parties are an opportunity to look your best and dress to impress. While we appreciate a novelty holiday tie as much as the next person, that old reindeer sweater that was a tight fit five years ago should stay safely in the closet.

Set the Scene

A colleague recently attended a party hosted by “Major Corporation X” in San Francisco. The location was an uber-trendy, newly opened venue…the host clearly wasn’t prepared for just how trendy. They found out when the wait staff made their dramatic entrance in risqué costumes and loud, thumping music. The Ghost of Christmas Past was present for about 30 seconds before a horrified host shooed the whole lot of them out a side door.

This is not the time for your elevator pitch

That’s not to say these events should be completely sterile, or that people should stand off by themselves in the corner in silence. These are, after all, social gatherings, and people are expected to mingle and, when appropriate, even make new introductions. Shuttling from group to group with a stack full of business cards in your hand at the ready – as I witnessed one heavily perspiring, bafflingly unaware individual doing at a party last year – will never win you friends, or influence people. By the time said networker finally worked his way over to my side of the room (business card thrust out before him) I can honestly say I wasn’t surprised at his introductory line: “I’m John Smith, and I just learned you are with The Alexander Group.  Can I tell you about my background?”

Eat, Drink and Be Merry…In Moderation

Of course, light hors d’oeuvres are the typical fare at these get-togethers. While most people don’t arrive seeking to fulfill their daily caloric requirements, we’ve all witnessed the guy who hunts down the waiters, grabbing fistfuls of stuffed mushrooms, smoked salmon, and other tooth-pick skewered appetizers. But I admit to having never seen anything like the woman who diligently wrapped several items in a layer of napkins, before stuffing them all into her Gucci bag. Was she gathering food for the ride home or to feed her family? One will never know…

A Business Gathering—Not a Drinking Contest

And speaking of food, we all know that drinks are the mainstay of the holiday party – when confronted with an open bar, a simple cocktail or glass of wine should be the obvious choice. It’s worth noting, when it comes to drinking at a holiday party…you are the only one who really understands your limits.  

As an adult who has probably been to a number of holiday parties, don't pretend that you don’t know the number of drinks it takes for you to go from mildly tipsy to “dancing on the tables" drunk. Don’t let yourself be the cautionary tale before next year’s party!

Above all, this is the time to enjoy camaraderie and good times with your colleagues, clients and friends. A bit of tact and good manners goes a long way to making the holiday season enjoyable for everyone.

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