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We often talk about how much success in business depends on building strong, positive relationships. Relationships with clients and prospects are obvious, but equally important are the relationships with your co-workers and your bosses. At the holidays, you have one of the best opportunities to enhance relationships at work: the office holiday party.

Follow a few simple guidelines to make the most of the event:

  1.  RSVP. The party organizer’s most difficult task is to find out who will attend. Make his or her job easier by responding to invitations right away. Even if you aren’t sure you can attend, at least let the organizer know you will respond shortly. Then, follow through.
  2. Plus ones. Find out if the invitation includes spouses and significant others. Nothing could be more embarrassing for you and your significant other if he or she is the only non-employee at the party.
  3. Dress appropriately. If you are not sure what to wear, ask the organizer when you RSVP.
  4. Be a good wingman (or woman). If your spouse or significant other is included, be sure to introduce him or her to your workmates and your boss. Don’t abandon him or her, and direct conversations to topics that will be interesting to him or her.
  5. Watch your intake. Enjoy the food, but take care not to overdo it. Asking for a doggie bag is off limits.
  6. Watch your liquid intake. The watchword should be moderation. You don’t want to consume too much and say or do things that you will need to apologize for the next day. Best advice: follow the “one-drink” rule.
  7. Branch out. Use the party as an opportunity to get to know your colleagues better. Find out their interests and a little bit about their lives. Don’t just talk to your best friend or one colleague all night. Interact with a variety of people—even with that co-worker who bugs you. You may find some common ground that will help in the office.
  8. Spend some time with your boss. This is your opportunity to grow your relationship. Just be careful not to monopolize his or her time.
  9. ‘Tis the season of giving. Not a fan of office gift swaps? Participate to show you are a team player. Offices should set low price limits, and employees should stick to them. Find out if the gift should be wrapped or not.
  10. Don’t over- (or under-) stay your welcome. Arrive on time and stay at least through the main event, be it cocktails, dinner, or a gift swap. Take your leave at the same time as most other guests, so you aren’t the last person at the event.
  11. Say thank you. Be sure to thank your boss and the organizer before you leave. The next day, send separate notes or emails thanking them again.

Follow these simple guidelines to ensure that a merry time is had by all, and that it’s a successful event for you.


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