Office Party Etiquette – Eating
What you push into that lovely face of yours says more about you than you may appreciate. Now, don’t get all paranoid, but do consider the following:
For a cocktail hour/hors d’oeuvres:
1. Stick to the truly finger food items – occasionally a lousy caterer (or your bosses spouse in some cases) will serve psuedo finger food because he/she doesn’t know better – this includes items that take more than one bite to consume AND lose their structure (i.e. squish) as you take the first bite . . . as well as fried items that may drip grease on you. Anything that can ooze on you WILL.
BEST TIP: stick to things that can be POLITELY consumed in one bite.
2. Beware the spicy/saucy/dairy items. If you have any tendency toward tummy rumbles, you should be old enough to be aware of what sets your tummy rumbling. For the sake of all concerned, please avoid those foods. 7 layer bean dip . . . jalapeno poppers . . . spicy wings . . .
3. Just shut up and eat it. If you have a real allergy – like peanuts cause death – then you know how to ask for food information tactfully and you may discard items that could kill you if you have picked them up in error. If on the other hand you simply do not like certain things, well you probably whine about it, stop. The Office Party is not the time, nor is it the place to whine . . . about anything. At a public event where you are being watched by the gatekeepers to your career, for heaven’s sake, just shut up and eat it. You picked up a spinach quesadilla with onions in it and you hate onions . . . well, never mind that that violates guideline #1 (single bite foods), just eat the damn thing. Onions aren’t going to kill you.
4. Feed yourself before you arrive – this is not a food trough. Every host/hostess appreciates guests enjoying their food, it is part of the joy of hosting. However, no one I know (except your Italian grandmother) appreciates you standing over the food table scarfing every morsel in sight. If you are really hungry, grab a bite to eat before you arrive so you won’t be tempted to position yourself at the food table.
5. When you pick up a food item, eat it quickly. No, I’m not advocating inhaling the item, but do be done with it. You never know when your Senior VP, Boss, Company President will walk up to have a conversation with you. With a drink in one hand and a meatball in the other, it is very difficult to shake hands. Women can get away with the pinky finger handshake, but men . . . if you ever give a pinky finger handshake – no matter what your *orientation* may be – you will be written off as weak. That and you just look stupid standing there with two hands full.
6. Keep your hands and mouth clean. After that meatball, make sure your hands are not sticky. Carry wet wipes with you if necessary. Again avoid the foods that will cause the most trouble – why anyone serves wings at a function is beyond me – they’re a mess!
7. Keep your drink in your left hand. In the US, we shake hands with our right hands. It is really best if that hand be dry and clean when you are greeting others. Drink napkins rarely provide enough absorption. Do you really want your boss to feel a sloppy wet, cold hand when you greet him? Drink your drink of choice, but understand that wine stems provide the best means for keeping your hands dry.