Photocopying Your Butt, Naughty Santa Outfits and Other Holiday Office Party Fouls

I learned at a relatively young age what NOT to do at an office holiday party. My first festive function took place when I was a mere intern for a national magazine company (I’m keeping their identity anonymous for my own sake). I have two words for you:

Open Bar.

Things got freaky fast. Give a bunch of people  a lot of booze and what do you expect to happen? For a still-in-college 20-year-old, I took a lot of mental notes. At that party alone, I witnessed random karaoke sessions, dancing on tables and was privy to some interesting conversations.

Since my open bar experience, I’ve attended a range of different holiday parties from restaurant gatherings to conference room luncheons. Despite all the gaiety and lighthearted fun, there is a level of decorum that employees need to follow. Remember you will interact with your coworkers everyday…at least, until you PCS.

To avoid personal and professional blunders at your company’s festive get-together, be sure you keep the following party fouls in mind this holiday season.

Photocopying Your Butt, Naughty Santa Outfits and Other Holiday Office Party Fouls

Party Foul #1: Acting like Scrooge…

and bringing your “bah humbug” attitude to the company Christmas party. Two years ago, I was pretty bummed because the holidays meant that an unaccompanied tour was imminent. The New Year marked a huge change and I was scared. I didn’t let my fears get in the way of enjoying myself with my fantastic coworkers. We were gathered at a local restaurant to celebrate our company’s great year. Also, that was practically the only time for us to hang out, laugh and get to know each other outside of the office. Because I knew the time with my coworkers was numbered, I wanted to have as much fun with them as possible. The military lifestyle has taught me to never take the little things for granted. That means don’t let anything (even the military) interfere on the possibility of a great time. This is YOUR life, so make the most of it.

Party Foul #2: Parking yourself at the bar…

especially if there is an open bar! Need I say more? Remember what I mentioned earlier (the karaoke sessions, table dancing, etc.)? I understand the struggle, but seriously, don’t. Every time I felt the desire to excessive drink in an open bar situation, I remember the craziness of my first holiday party. Trust me, you don’t want to be that person.

Party Foul #3: Misusing office equipment…

and that means don’t Xerox your butt or any other questionable body parts. The second party foul might have some influence in this one (and if it doesn’t, there are some other issues at play…), but whatever you do, stay away from any shenanigans that you could regret the next day. Just say NO.

Party Foul #4: Attending empty-handed…

and bring a little more than your holiday cheer. Before attending the office party, ask around to get a sense of what’s expected. Most of the time, it will be apparent from an Evite or word of mouth. Will there be a gift exchange? Secret santa or white elephant? Or is it a potluck? Whatever it is, make sure you fully participate…and no cheating. Don’t pull a Michael Scott and buy an iPod when the white elephant limit is $20. But, if you don’t have time to bake a cake from scratch, it’s completely OK to head to the grocery store. It would be a nice gesture to contribute or volunteer to help at the holiday party, even if there isn’t anything required or asked. The extra oomph won’t go unnoticed by your employer and coworkers. When I first entered the workforce, I was broke. So I bought inexpensive holiday cards at the dollar store and wrote out personal messages to my teammates. A little holiday cheer goes a long way.

Party Foul #5: Wearing a Santa suit…

unless the company holiday party has a theme. (Check the invitation.) Your employer might be carefree and host an ugly sweater party. In that case, the sky’s the limit. For the most part, holiday parties are on the business casual side. If you work in my type of office setting, business casual could mean jeans and a blouse. What I’m implying is don’t dress any differently for your holiday party than you would any typical day. It’s not uncommon to throw on some flair like a Santa hat or reindeer antlers. But, consider leaving the white beard at home.

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Remember, a holiday party is the perfect opportunity to let loose and be a little more personal with your coworkers. It’s completely OK to be a silly and carefree– to an extent. And most importantly, be yourself.

Have you committed any office party fouls in your past? What office party fouls have you witnessed? What did you learn? Share your stories in the comments below.

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