Office Party Etiquette: Cinderella Situation

So given the title you may be thinking there will be a magical prince popping out of the woodwork to take you dancing through the night.

My apologies, no.

This little tale is about how to arrive at the Office Holiday Party.

The concept of Fashionably Late . . .

So the party starts at 7p and ends at 10p. In some circles this means you show up at 9p.


More specifically he** no. Your company has either rented the space or your boss, boss’s boss or boss’s boss’s boss’s cousin’s best friend is hosting the party at his home, so when they say the party ends at 10p, they mean 10p.

When you arrive at 9p, you may unintentionally cause the party to kick right back up a notch. You are after all a bad ass. The revelers will be delighted to see you, but the host and hostess will not.

Remember your teacher threatening the boy who was always shouting out in class and not turning in his homework, “This will go on your permanent record,” as though that meant something serious? Yeah, showing up unfashionably late works the same way.

So for the love of your boss, please arrive 15-30 minutes after start time. Anything later gets into rude territory.

What about the other extreme . . . being very, very precisely on time?

Oh how boring!

If the party is at a home, they may not be ready for you. You really don’t want to be the one who arrives first.

So play it safe 15-30 minutes after start time is perfect. No one is uber sloshed yet so you can have a polite conversation about totally mundane topics. AND, you can scoot out of there after 60-90 minutes – after all – you, Miss Hotty Totty, have places to go and parties to kick start.

Is Miss Mentor’s advice consistent? Check out our Office Party Etiquette series from 2 years ago.

Office Party Etiquette: Holidays

Is your company one of the few holding a Holiday Party this year? Seems like many have cut back drastically, but based on a few questions from readers, I’ll throw this into the mix for those of you celebrating with co-workers this holiday season.

There are two main flavors of the Office Party – during work hours, and after work hours.

During Work Hours:
These Office Parties are meant to be tame. Appropriate attire seems to include cute santa hats on the cute secretaries, ugly sweaters on the not cute secretaries. The accountants will show up with the reindeer parade – don’t make eye contact.

A Director may try to spice things up with sexy red sweaterdress . . . she is single . . . even if she’s married. She probably hasn’t enjoyed her emasculated husband in a decade. Speculation about the intern from last summer…. How is it she manages to find super hot male interns trying to break into the biz each summer? Exactly. Go Cougars.

For you as a climber, stick to the basics. Sure you can do cute tights or put a holiday hat on for the day, but fashioning mistletoe to that hat is verboten.

No – No – No.

Besides, it’s that funky dude in payroll who’d try to kiss you. Do you really want that?

Drinking at daytime holiday party?
Oh . . . tempting, but no. Face it ladies, you are being watched like a hawk. It ain’t fair, but thems the breaks. You want to be taken seriously, work seriously. You won’t win popularity points for this and you won’t be invited to the after hours lush fest . . . but then again, you won’t end up shacked-up with your co-worker. That’s good.

If you want to write your own ticket, stay out of the booze during the day.

After Hours:
Office Party etiquette still applies. No joke. Your party may call for cocktail attire and it may call for “casual.” You get to figure out what that one means.

If it is at your office, be careful. Follow proper booze + copier etiquette. No pushing, no shoving, wait your turn.

Office Party Etiquette . . . What you CAN do with a copy machine.

If it is at an off-site location, even better. When you arrive you can scout exits so you can disappear quickly if necessary. Just a recommendation.

When you arrive be aware of the total space, are there nooks in which you could get trapped with that freaky payroll dude? Avoid.

Do grab a drink, but do stop at 2. Go meet your friends to get your drink on later if you must, but at the holiday party, no-go. Now you’re being watched like a hawk by twice as many eyes.

Think of it this way. When you have a single parent, she can only do so much disciplining. She gets tired, has her own distractions and is generally juggling things. When you have Mom + Step Dad, now they have reserve firepower. And they talk to each other about you and they make decisions for each other about you.


No joke. If your boss thinks you’re mostly okay, but his wife decides that you’re rude, you’re getting stunted the next promotion go-around. She’ll keep reminding him how rude you are and he’ll start to see what he hadn’t seen before . . . even if it does not exist. The context has changed and now you’re labeled rude.

It is your duty to be unfailingly diplomatic at the office party . . . even with that vendor, despite wanting to stuff him in a trash can for the way he wrecked the project time line….

Another gem from the past:

Office Party Advice

Office Party Etiquette – Be on Time

Few employees seem to grasp the importance of the Office Holiday Party. Of course you do . . . but those other employees…..

If the invitation states 7PM, get there before 7:30PM – even if you have to put your lipstick and mascara on once you arrive. Office parties really are an extension of your work environment. Punctuality is very important.

Let’s face it, if you’re not getting there on time during the week, well, you don’t have the fire in your belly to make much out of your career and I’m not really writing this column for you. For those of you who do get there on time during the week, keep up the good work and get to the office party on time.

FASHIONABLY LATE: In this context, fashionably late = 5-10 minutes late.

If you can not make it on time, and you have a very good reason, plan to stay late, particularly if you are a manager. It is up to you to socialize with your employees and your bosses. This is the one time of the year (for most firms) that you can genuinely dramatically expand your network within the company. This has obvious benefits for promotions within the firm and less obvious benefits for finding a better job down the road.

Office Party Etiquette – actually, no, please do not have another

A very popular and loaded question is, “How much can I drink at the Office Party?

Well, if you have to ask, you are probably accustomed to drinking too much – certainly too much for an office party.

Before I get flooded with e-mail retorts, YES, even if your work environment has a culture of excessive drinking – my past work environments certainly did – you still need to limit your alcohol consumption. Again, WOMEN, please take particular note, this is doubly important for you. Yes, it stinks, I agree.

Here’s the scoop: when you are out drinking with your office colleagues and you get *loaded* well, that’s bad, but workable within certain limits. When you get *loaded* at the office party, well, your boss’ sober husband is watching you – remembering every detail of that rant you gave under the influence, and as it turns out . . . he totally disagrees with your opinion on Jar, Jar/Britney/Fed Fund rate change/String Theory/whatever.

When you’re with your office buddies (presumably) you are all equally *loaded*. When you are at the office party, there may be some non-drinkers. So for the sake of your job and career, drinking responsibly takes on a whole new meaning. Indeed, though the booze may be “free” it’s effect on your career based on behavior at the office party can be quite costly.

Holiday Party Drinking Tips:

  • Limit drinks with alcohol to a maximum of two.
  • Avoid mixing drinks.
  • Drink coffee, tea, soft drinks and water.

Ladies, again, this is doubly important for you. Sorry. Don’t fall prey to peer pressure to throw back a few extra to “prove” yourself to the team at the Office Party (or ever if you can avoid it). Type A personalities, LISTEN UP!

If you must, encourage your team to do something “manly” that will at least let you show strength. Take them to the gun range and fire off a few rounds (after you’ve practiced once or twice). Women metabolize alcohol a wee bit differently and generally weigh less than the men goading them into a drink-a-thon. Getting drunk only ever shows weakness – no matter how invincible you feel at the time. This being said by someone who puts down her fair share….

Party like a *sober* Rockstar. Onwards and upwards!

Office Party Etiquette – what you CAN do with a copy machine

Office Party Etiquette for Holidays and Other Occasions.

Thankfully, not too many companies still host office parties within the office after hours, but plenty are shutting down early on a Friday to booze up before sending employees home . . . besides the obvious potential for lawsuits stemming from drunk employees mismanaging their vehicles, the Friday office party happy hour isn’t such a bad idea.

At least significant others are spared from trying to create polite conversation with your co-workers.

But now you have a comedy sketch waiting to happen. Eggnog in the kitchen, copier is warm – who wouldn’t be tempted? Right?

So what can you do with (name available alcohol here ….) a bottle of Tequila and a Copy Machine AND still have your job come Monday?

1. BEFORE the bottle is open, you can copy a picture of your smiling FACE next to the bottle. When the original comes out decide if you will use it as the interoffice invite (deliver by hand for extra style points), your holiday card (shrink to postcard size and copy onto card stock), or simply as fine art for your cubicle (please remove after 2 weeks).

2.  AFTER the bottle is open, don’t even think about going near the copier. Don’t do it. You’ll look like a Scottish fella in a field full of sheep. You’ll be busted by the office prude so fast your head will spin . . . more.
Remember, YouTube is everywhere. It’s worse than Big Brother.

Next up: If SOs are included, how to tag team an office party for maximum career advancement.

It’s office party time – Office Party Etiquette

Office Party Etiquette – because you really do need your job.

Tempting though it is to tell your boss what a #*#B*ing bleep he is, that’s not the spirit of the season, and you probably want to have your job tomorrow . . . and the next day, particularly if you are planning to pay your holiday bills. You DO plan to pay your holiday bills don’t you??

Fine, fine.

So this week and next we will share so tips to navigate the tricky waters of Holiday Office Parties. Because Office Etiquette doesn’t stop at 5PM.

Tip #1: Do NOT, under any circumstances bring the guy/girl you shacked up with for the first time this past weekend, or worse, last night. This will seem blindingly obvious to most of my readers, but enough of you . . .

Here’s the scoop. That random hook-up and your office do not mix.

1. He/She is probably not nearly as cute as you remember (or don’t remember as the case may be).

2. He/She may not be the best behaved in public situations – remember his/her job is not at stake at YOUR office party.

3. He/She may not have that much interest in you – this one can sting the most – imagine, your office frenemy hooks up with your date. Really bad form and dare I say, bad office etiquette on behalf of your frenemy, but you brought in the fresh meat…. Your own fault.

4. He/She won’t agree to tell everyone that you’ve been seeing each other for a month and instead tells everyone about your sloppy kissing technique – you will be forever renamed “Soupy,” even by your boss. Promotion chance – for the guys, probably up; for the girls, decidedly down.

Tomorrow: what you CAN do with a copy machine and a pint of Tequila.