5 Tips to Deck the Halls and Avoid Career Pitfalls

Ms. Rising’s Guide to Rocking Your Corporate Holiday Party!

HOliday partyimage.7Nov2016.jpg

It’s that magical time of year where your social calendar is filling up with holiday parties galore. Including the dreaded or welcome company party. Now for my first timer’s before you break into hives this guide will carry you through so you nail it like a pro. For the seasoned corporate holiday vet this refresher may be just what you needed so you can breeze through as the DJ or live band is playing everyone’s favorite tune. Ms. Rising’s proven tips will ensure you dazzle.

1)      RSVP

 Do the right thing and ensure you RSVP on time. Your HR team or employee activities committee head will love you for it. If you work for an organization that looks to invest in their employees by hosting a holiday/end of year gathering be conscientious and send in your notification on time. This way you won’t get stiffed at the door if your organization does a VIP guest list. You can also communicate any food allergies or special considerations that need to be made in advance.  Alternatively, if for whatever reason you can’t attend they can ensure they have an accurate count for the guests that can.

2)      Attire-Glam it up!

However, this is not your 21st, 25th or 30th birthday especially if any of these events were held in Las Vegas. While I did have an amazing time in Miami on South Beach for my 21st birthday more than a decade later I can still hear the sounds of Pitbull blaring… , back to your holiday party anything remotely strapless and backless should be avoided at all costs- even IF they play Mr. Worldwide aka Pitbull at your festive function. These are your co-workers after all. Now I’m not saying that you have to dress like an old lady cue an image of Sophia from the Golden Girls, the goal is to exude an age appropriate polished and elevated side of yourself. Envision dressing for the person you intend to become. Where do you see yourself in the organization in the future? If it’s a role higher than you are now strive to embody dressing like that. As you think of your attire you may want to consider the following:

a.       Industry- Do you work in a highly regulated industry where things are a bit more conservative? Or do you work in a highly artistic, less regulated and creative space? Either way aim to be an elevated version of what you would wear during the typical 9-5. Examples-  Check out a bright classic day to night look below. For a conservative culture a classic little black dress never goes out of style with classic gemstones think pearls or diamond studs. Or embrace the holidays and go for a dress in jewel tones and simple understated jewelry. If you’re in a more artistic environment you can still rock the little black dress but feel free to add some drama in your jewelry or your shoes. See some more of our favorite looks in the style guide below!

b.      Organization/Culture- Is your organization more laid back where people are wearing converse and hoodies or is it more established and conservative? Use this as a gauge. If your work environment is more casual you can still come across more polished with a nice skirt or textured slacks and a beautiful sweater.

c.       Location, Location, Location- Is the event going to be held in a country club? Is the party hosted in a landmark venue downtown? A fancy restaurant or a hotel? All of these will determine how glamorous to get.

d.      Time of day- Is the holiday party later in the week? Like a Friday evening? Or is it a more casual happy hour affair mid-week right after work? Either way plan accordingly. If it’s a happy hour event right after work think of carrying a separate pair of shoes to change into that may elevate your outfit or a statement necklace, blazer, or jacket to help carry you from day to night. However, if your event is the former on a Friday evening with plenty of time to prepare it sets the expectation of either formal cocktail attire or holiday gown.


3)      Arm your date/significant other with the right intel so you can shine  

So you scored a date for your holiday party- Awesome! Now that’s not all. Your arm candy can help you shine or they can set your career up for instant disaster. There was one girl whose date was waiting in the long bar line. His feet were throbbing in his shoes and all he wanted was another vodka soda to help ease his nervous jitters and get her a chardonnay. A man on a mission, this Tom Cruise didn’t stand a chance on his Mission Impossible, 20 people back he spots this jerk who had no regard for all of the miserable saps in the line and blatantly cut the line to get a drink! Well his blood was boiling at that point. No one was going to cut into the line like that on his watch! So he proceeded to give this jerk a piece of his mind about how rude that was and demand that he get in the back of the line like the rest of them. The blood immediately drained from his girlfriend’s face, as her date lit into her company’s CEO! Moral of the story, arm your date with the right intel. I always prepare my husband with a who’s who of our Executive Leadership, my boss, key co-worker’s, latest stock price, any public initiatives etc. so he not only looks like a rock star but I do to.

4)      Work the Room

This is an awesome opportunity for you to network with colleagues you may not get the opportunity to meet or connect with on a regular basis. Leverage this time to get in front of your organization’s most senior leadership and your boss. This is also a great time to express your gratitude for the organization and your role. Make sure you’ve got a “Who’s Who” so you can avoid major social gaffes. Also come prepared with a few insightful questions to break the ice with senior leadership and stand above the rest.

(Examples- What accomplishment did your team achieve this year that you’re most proud of? What are you most looking forward to both personally and professionally for 2017? Does your family have any memorable holiday traditions?)

5)      Avoid the Walk of Shame-

a.       Two drink maximum- This tried and true tip has saved plenty of individuals from career limiting moves. Mixed drinks, wine or beer is best. Try to avoid shots at all costs. Also consider, alternating your beverages with non-alcoholic ones so you can ensure you stay properly hydrated. It’s also a great move to arrange for car service (Uber, Lyft, Taxi) or a designated driver to avoid any issues. Ensure your safety and the safety of others by being responsible.  

b.      No hooking up at the holiday party. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been locking eyes in the copy room with a special someone all year long. The company holiday party is NOT the time or place to share your unrequited love and proceed to hook up in the middle of the dance floor. I often see such things take place when rule #1- two drink maximum is thrown out the window. You may only have eyes for each other but remember all eyes will be on you if you start hooking up.

c.       Don’t be the last one at the party- This rule especially applies for more junior associates. As you’re seeking to grow your reputation and build your credibility nothing ruins it quicker than a&b which often happens if you are the last one at the party.  You don’t have to go home but you sure can’t stay all night at the company holiday party. If you don’t want to go home right away. You don’t have to. Some great alternatives, are to arrange dinner reservations at a great spot you’ve been dying to go to and expand the holiday party experience into a great date night. No sense in putting all your hard work of getting dolled up to waste.  Planning for a dinner later that evening is also helpful if your company is only providing hors d'oeuvres. You could also plan an additional fun outing with friends later that evening to ensure you’re not the last one at the company holiday party.

These tips have proven to be very helpful during Ryan's career navigating organization holiday gatherings. Check out some more of our favorite looks below.

p.s. We’d love to hear from you. Are there any other tried and true tips that you have? corporate holiday party horror stories? Feel free to share your comments with other readers below.   

Good luck and continue to Rise! XOXO

Ms. Rising's 2016 Corporate Holiday Party Style Guide