Let’s face it; when people get into groups things can get awkward. We have more ‘social connections’ in today’s modern world than ever before, however most people simply don’t know how to actually socialize. We speak with our coworkers, customers and clients on a daily basis, but for some reason we lose all common sense when it comes to company social gatherings. They can be tricky situations. How do you adequately balance the corporate world with a party atmosphere? These ten handy tips will help keep you on your best behavior and your boss’s nice list for this year’s office holiday party.

1.  Read the Invitation – Invitations are usually clear & concise but if the information isn’t clear, be sure to ask the person hosting the event. Don’t wait to the last minute.  Remember to RSVP if the invitation requests it.  Most companies like to budget for food & drink so remember to let them know if you’re definitely going or not.  RSVP isn’t just for not showing up.

2.  Dress Appropriately for the Event – A lot can go wrong with the wrong attire at an event.  If casual is the name of the game, keep it that way.  Don’t test out your sparkly new clubbing dress and sky-high heels. If the party is at a classy establishment or restaurant then by all means dress up and out.  In any case one should keep the skin and over-the-top holiday attire to a minimum (unless crazy Christmas sweaters are the theme of course!).

3.  Prepare Beforehand – No one likes an awkward silence. By thinking of conversation starters ahead of time you can avoid this. Some generally safe topics are your coworker’s family, congratulating award winners, and asking about holiday plans. Asking is only half the battle though, don’t forget to listen!

4.  Respect Others’ Privacy – With today’s technology a camera is usually only an arm’s reach away. However, there may be some co-workers that do not like having their picture taken. Simply ask before you take a picture. Another great rule of thumb is to use the ‘fridge rule.’ If you wouldn’t put the picture on your refrigerator for your friends and family to see, it’s best not to put it online.

5.  Eat, Drink, and be Merry… in Moderation – The office holiday party is a chance to celebrate the season with everyone you work with. Remember you will see these people at work again, so keep it “PG.”

6.  Is Attendance Mandatory? – This is always a tough one.  If your employer is taking the time and effort to recognize and reward their employees, you should try and make the effort to be there. If you are a new employee or have recently been promoted, that’s all the more reason to make an appearance.  However, we all know life happens and if you are truly uncomfortable, or simply can’t because of prior plans, make sure they know you will not be attending; again RSVP’s are important.

7.  Avoid Gossip – Generally speaking we should stay away from gossip in all situations, but it should definitely be avoided in office gatherings so as not to cause any awkward situations later.

8.  Be Safe! – If alcohol will be served at your office party, know your own limit. An old business rule when it comes to alcohol consumption is the “One & Half” drink rule.  You may have two drinks, but don’t completely finish the second one.  Again, just simple etiquette, not set in stone.  Everyone should know their own limits, but getting wasted at the company get together can never lead to goods things…or pictures.  If you know it’s a looser party have a designated driver lined up just in case or have a taxi service’s number handy.

9.  Giving Gifts – Be sure to spread the love when it comes to gift giving at the office. You don’t want to break the bank either. To make sure no one is left out try an office Secret Santa or have all the employees go in together to get the boss a nice gift.

10.  Say Thank You – A nice thank you note to the human resource department or the boss can go a long way. The holiday season is all about being thankful, so be sure to show your appreciation.

These quick tips will help ensure our office party goes on without a hitch & by following these simple steps, who knows, maybe you will be the one getting that promotion next year!