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Be on Your Best Holiday Party Behavior

This is a message to the young up-and-coming professional getting ready to attend his or her first holiday party in New York City. Please be on your best behavior. The reputation that has taken you countless hours to build this year can be trashed with a single tongue slip to the wrong person in HR or an unwelcome and embarrassing gesture to a senior colleague. Here are a few tips to help keep you out of hot water this corporate holiday party season.

Behave at the Holiday Party (Photo: iStockphoto)

Remember that holiday parties = work
I get it and your bosses get it. It’s the end of the year, you’ve worked hard, and the holiday party exists to let everyone at the company collectively exhale over fried appetizers and gin and tonics. You may be judged less aggressively for bad behavior during a holiday party, but avoid being put in that situation by reminding yourself that you are at work and not a college or business school mixer. Certainly you can “let your hair down” a bit and enjoy yourself. But remember, maintain your professional presence. Despite what you think Big Brother is always watching.

Drink a full glass of water between cocktails
Take it easy on the open bar. The smart move while consuming beer and wine throughout the night is to flush your system regularly with full glasses of water. Thinking about doing shots? OK, if your boss takes the “in for a penny, in for a pound” approach join in on the fun – but know your limits and don’t lose control.

Have alternate after-party plans
In order to avoid over-doing a holiday party and earning the lampshade award the next day in the office, make sure you have alternate after-party plans to give yourself a quick and reasonable out. Older professionals have spouse and family responsibilities that make for an easy excuse to decline the bottle service at another joint after the official party is over. If you’re not into that and want an easy out, set something up to give you an easy exit strategy.

Mind your manners and awareness of appropriate etiquette at holiday-time social gatherings. You will thank me later! Have a fun and enjoyable holiday season!

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

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