We all know a story of an employee (or employer) gone wild at the office holiday party. While these stories eventually become seemingly harmless anecdotes, they should be treated as cautionary tales of the damage that can result from behaving inappropriately at the annual holiday party.

Before your next holiday party, take a look at the following list of dos and don’ts to help you avoid becoming the next infamous holiday disaster story.


Do: Choose your words wisely

Although it is a party, you will be surrounded by your coworkers and most likely your boss. As a result, the holiday party should be approached as work. Maintain a high level of professionalism and avoid gossiping about coworkers, venting about company policies or complaining about your miniscule holiday bonus. Instead, focus on conversation topics that are light, appropriate and would be still be considered acceptable if repeated in the office on Monday morning.

Don’t: Get sloppy

Holiday parties are great opportunities to let loose, laugh with coworkers and potentially have a few cocktails. What these events shouldn’t become is an excuse to drink too much and become sloppy with your actions and your words. Know your limits, don’t use an open bar as an excuse to indulge in too many libations, and if you find yourself with a mic in hand (singing your favorite Whitney Houston song) graciously accept that it is past time to go home.

Do: Plan ahead

Speaking of going home, if you are planning on consuming alcoholic beverages at your holiday party, plan your transportation home in advance. Talk to a coworker about splitting a cab, plan on taking an Uber, or find someone who would like to offer their services as a designated driver. Put your coworkers’ minds at ease, end the evening on a safe note, and demonstrate responsibility on and off the clock by planning ahead.

Don’t: Wing it

It’s common for holiday parties to include a speech from the boss, and possibly employee awards given by managers. If you are responsible for giving a speech, come prepared with something short, succinct and meaningful to say. Everyone in attendance will be grateful for a thoughtfully crafted speech so that they don’t have to listen to you babbling for ten minutes.

Do: Dress for the occasion

Find out how formal the holiday party will be, and dress accordingly. There’s nothing worse than showing up to an ugly sweater party in cocktail attire and vice versa.

Don’t: Be a Grinch

If you don’t want to attend the office holiday party, skip it. After all, attending the event with reluctance and a negative attitude is a quick way to earn you the title of office Grinch. If you decide to attend, don’t spend the evening complaining about the amount of time that you already spend with your coworkers, how the food isn’t up to your high standards and why you would rather be anywhere else. Instead, enjoy the evening, get to know someone new, and make sure to thank the host for throwing the event.


These dos and don’ts are just a few ways that you can avoid becoming the office cautionary tale. When in doubt, consider how your actions will impact your reputation in the office during normal work hours.