When the Christmas holidays come round, expect to get invited to a number of parties, including the one at the office. While participating in any celebratory event requires you to be at your best, this is never more important than in partying with the people you work with. This is because corporate parties are not just occasions to relax with one’s peers at the workplace; such events also serve as a good place to network your way to the top.

Remember that these corporate gatherings will place you in an easy environment where people in all the right places can have a chance to get acquainted with you in ways that a regular office set-up will not allow. When maximized fully, the office Christmas party can play a vital role in helping you initiate fruitful relationships that will benefit you in the long run, career-wise.

With this in mind, don’t make it a habit to shun parties if you’re too shy, or make this an occasion to go on a drinking binge with your office buds. Making a fool of yourself in a state of inebriation or keeping to yourself quietly in a corner will not create wonders for your career.

Take the time to prepare for this event by following the tips below. With the right attitude and enough preparation, you might find enough chances to plant good seeds at this year’s parties that will yield valuable crops in the times to come:

1. Be prompt. It’s basic courtesy to be on time, especially if you are conducting the party at someone’s house. Though we Filipinos are notorious for saving the best for last, imagine how pitiful it must be for the host if a lot of the guests choose to show up in the later hours. Plus, being on time will make you stand out, and give you enough time to socialize with as many guests as you can. The early bird always gets the worm.

2. Get a grip on your bearings. Before coming to the party, try to know exactly what you are getting into. Who’s going to be there? What kind of party is it going to be? Will the host appreciate your bringing some food to add to the table? If possible, try to do enough research on what the interests of your party mates are so you can conduct interesting conversations with them. If you’re the shy type, practice in front of the mirror. Prepare a list of topics you can discuss, or practice how you are going to introduce yourself to people.

3. Dress for success. You could probably go a little wild in some of the parties you attend this year; the office party is not one of them. Check the dress code, whether you’re supposed to get formal or be in business casual. Try not to get into plunging necklines or wear skirts with slits going up to your waist.

4. Don’t eat too much. The food is tempting and you’re a lover of edible delights, but don’t use the office party as a chance to chow down in quantities that would make you too preoccupied for anything else. How you conduct yourself at a buffet table is an indication of breeding and social grace. Some etiquette gurus even go so far as to say that you should eat a little before going to the party, to give you time to pay more attention to the people, and not the food.

5. Engage in light and positive chit-chat. Don’t be a total bore by talking shop all night, especially with your boss. Work talk is usually inappropriate in the party setting. This is the time for everyone to let their hair down and enjoy each other’s company, within the set limits of propriety. Party talk can be especially tricky with the presence of booze around, so take care to count how much wine you’re guzzling. You don’t want to start pouring your troubles with total strangers, or get into heated arguments about politics, religion or basketball. Keep topics to the bare minimum: those things that will help you get to know each other and will provide for better acquaintance in the future.

6. Collect and distribute business cards. Come prepared by having enough cards at your finger tips to distribute as much as you can. This is especially useful when partying among industry people that you are not in the same company with. Don’t just disseminate your cards as though you were distributing flyers at a mall though. These are mere props to get you to get the conversation going with your partner. With the amount of cards you bring, also make sure that you go home with just as many cards from the people you meet at the party.

7. Conduct yourself in a professional manner. It’s a party and a chance to share a laugh with your superior. But keep decorum and don’t start getting too familiar that you start to lose respect for your boss. Don’t make it a point to impress people with shocking stories, or tell vulgar jokes to people you barely know.

8. Keep the Christmas spirit. If you have a Kris Kringle going at the office, don’t neglect to bring your gift for your monita or monito. Bring presentable gifts that are wrapped nicely and properly. Be happy; don’t take party etiquette too seriously that you neglect to remember that this is a time to be joyous. Over enjoying yourself too much may lead you to act inappropriately, just as being too stiff might lead people to just avoid socializing with you. Nothing’s worse than being a party pooper at a party.

9. Don’t dare. It’s exciting to get picked on during games and other fun-filled activities at the party. Just don’t go on a dare if someone asks you to do something outrageous like strip or perform a sexy dance, even if the party is getting a bit rowdy. Keep sober and don’t try to hug the limelight. Keep in mind that the right people are in attendance and that whatever you will do for the night may make a lasting impression on everyone from that point on.

10. Spread yourself around. Don’t monopolize a person, or just stick to a particular group of people. Get up and mingle. Be adventurous, walk up to strangers and introduce yourself. Don’t stick to familiar terrain. If you don’t know your boss too well, this is a chance for you to get to know each other on a more relaxed level. Try to limit yourself from 10 to 15 minutes at a time when chatting with people so that you can gain more ground over the competition.

By Lolita Villa