What to wear, what to say and what not to do.

It’s that time of year again
This is the time of year when many of us receive invitations to office Christmas, holiday parties and client appreciation events. Sounds like fun… but not for all of us. Many of us stress about what to wear, what to say, and how to behave.

Tips on How to Dress

The invitation should give us some clues. Women in particular have so many choices but we have to remember that it’s business first and party second. If the event is scheduled right after work, it’s safe to assume that we can wear our office attire, but we can add some sparkle and flair. Women can change their shoes, add a bit of bling and embellish their make-up. Guys can add a festive tie, shave that five o’clock shadow and put on a fresh shirt.

Conversation Tips

Fear Not
One the biggest fears that most of us face when attending events is fear of talking to strangers. It’s human nature to want to stay talking with people that we know well and are comfortable with. While it’s certainly important to re-connect with people we know, it’s equally  important to grow your network and meet people outside your immediate circle.

Talk Like a Host
The advice that we give in our networking seminars to help overcome shyness is to move from guest to host behaviour. Pretend that you are hosting the event, go up to people standing on their own and introduce yourself. Engage in some small talk to discover what you have in common. An amazing thing happens when you work at making others feel relaxed and at ease; you experience more ease and comfort yourself. As a bonus, this contributes to the success of the event.

Tips for Joining Conversations
Many of us feel uncomfortable making an attempt to join a group already engaged in conversation. Part of the problem lies with our approach. We have to learn to read body language. If the group is close knit and they’re huddled together  it may not be the best group to approach. However, if when we walk towards a group someone makes eye contact and offers a warm smile it’s safe to join them. You can ask a rhetorical question if you hear what they are talking about or make a comment such as, “this group looks like you’re having a lot of fun, do you mind if I join you”.

Etiquette Tips

Drinks On Me
Drinking is often a part of holiday and Christmas celebrations. For liability and safety reasons many company parties are going  booze free. When it comes to alcohol remember your image, brand and career can be impacted. It’s important to know your limits and moderation is key.

Grab the grub
Isn’t it surprising how many people walk around at functions with their plates piled to the sky like it was their last supper. Hors d’oeuvres means appetizers and are not meant to replace your breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eat as if your company pays you well enough to do so on a regular basis.

Bonus holiday party tip to avoid the flu

Healthy holidays
Eat the appetizers with your left hand (if your religion and culture permits it). The benefits are twofold. 1 Your handshake will be less sticky. 2  You will consume less germs from shaking hands with all your new acquaintances.

Have fun and make a great impression at all the holiday parties you attend!

For more Holiday Party Advice see our Resource sheet Tips to Survive the Office Holiday Party.pdf

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Posted by Joanne Blake – the Canadian business etiquette expert and and left handed eater

About the author 

Joanne Blake

JOANNE BLAKE Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.

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