‘Tis the season for celebration, but sometimes, it can be hard to distinguish between business and pleasure — especially at the office holiday party.

“The office party is a place to be social and interact with your colleagues, but come armed with both casual and work-related topics to discuss,” says Cynthia Richards, president of event management agency Event Spectrum in Toronto.

And don’t forget, there’s also an opportunity for some career advancement hobnobbing. “After all, this is an opportunity for you to chat with high-level executives and other colleagues you may not interact with on a daily basis,” notes Richards.

But we all know not everyone follows the so-called “rules” once the party gets going. Office parties are also an ideal place for gossiping, complaining about your workload and getting drunk…for free. And while some things are obvious — like don’t go to your holiday party in short shorts or your underwear, Richards has put together the top 10 ways to avoid an office holiday party fail this year.


  • Wearing Short, Tight, Revealing Clothes (Or Going Naked)
    This should be an obvious one. Never wear anything shorter, tighter, or lower than standard office wear. Remember, this is still a work event.
  • Bringing Up Work Topics All The Time
    Yes, you work together at an office, but this doesn’t mean you have to talk about work all the time. The office party is a place to be social and interact with colleagues (and high-rolling managers) you may not speak with on a regular basis. You can introduce yourself and talk about what you do at work, but feel free to chat about other topics like sports, movies or something in the news.
  • On Your Phone
    Are you bored? Constantly texting, tweeting or Instagramming has become so ingrained in our behaviour that it’s almost acceptable. But when you’re doing this in front of your co-workers and bosses, it can be insulting. And besides, even if you aren’t bored, you look incredibly bored.
  • Monopolize Conversation With One Person
    Often, when we’re shy, awkward or nervous at parties we attach ourselves to friends or people we know — don’t do this at your holiday office party. Office parties are a great way to meet your co-workers, and who knows? It can even lead to a promotion down the road.
  • Complain About The Food Or Entertainment
    This one is a no-brainer. Just remember, someone spent time ordering food, pulling together entertainment and putting in an effort with decorations. Don’t be an office-party snob — management didn’t have to throw a holiday party.
  • Flirt With Co-Workers
    We’re all here to be friends (well, most of us), but don’t cross the line. The last thing you want to be remembered for was schmoozing with co-workers highly intoxicated.
  • Book Another Party On The Same Night
    It’s called a calender, people. Chances are, your holiday office party wasn’t booked last minute. Cancelling on your co-workers (or leaving halfway through) makes you seem disinterested, which can leave the impression you don’t care quite as much about your job.
  • Forget To Thank Planners Or Committee
    It’s an easy one to forget. Again, remember someone worked hard to put this party together. Shooting them a quick thank you email or saying thanks in person goes a long way.
  • Gossiping
    Psst … can you keep a secret? Save the water cooler chat for another time — like outside of the office.
  • Call In Sick The Next Day
    Get it together. Don’t get so drunk at your office party that you can’t function the next day. You won’t be fooling anyone.