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The 4 Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Company Parties: Etiquette Advice from the Experts

After putting in long hours and plugging away at a stressful job, it's always nice to kick back with your coworkers off the clock. Office happy hours and parties are a great way to relieve some stress and get to know your colleagues, but it's important to know where to draw the professional line. 

Whether it's a team happy hour at a local bar down the street, a casual out-of-office party at someone's home or a more formal corporate event, there are some important dos and don'ts when attending these professional get-togethers. Enjoying a couple glasses of wine or an adult beverage definitely helps get the conversation going, but it can also land you in some trouble. To help navigate the tricky field of corporate parties, I consulted some etiquette experts on the dos and don'ts of office parties. 

1. Do: Talk About More than Just Work

Diane Gottsman, National Etiquette and Modern Manners Expert, says it's not necessary to "talk shop" during an office party. Now is the time to discuss your life outside of the office. Ask people about their kids, bring up that great vacation you took last month and talk about what you like to do on the weekends. She just warns to ask noninvasive questions, and keep the topic of conversation light-hearted. 


2. Don't: Engage in Office Gossip

Loose lips tend to run wild after a few drinks, and it's easy to get caught up in the typical office politics. But when the conversation turns towards that one co-worker that no one gets along with, it's better to just not engage. 

"Change the subject," Elaine Swann, Lifestyle & Etiquette Expert, tells Celebrations. "If it persists, then discreetly excuse yourself form the group and walk away."


3. Do: Keep Your Outfit in Line with the Company Dress Code

Obviously, if you're going to an office party at a fancy or trendy location, it's not necessary to wear your standard pencil skirt and button-up blouse. But don't wear anything that's too revealing, or could be considered inappropriate in the office -- even if you are at a more laid-back venue. 

Diane tells us to wear "what you would want your best client to see you wear." It's always better to be safe than sorry. 


4. Don't: Drink too Much

Always be mindful of how much alcohol you consume, and drink water in between each alcoholic beverage. Elaine recommends not having more than two drinks at a company party. It's important to listen to your body: If you feel yourself getting too buzzed, then it's probably time to slow down. 

And here's a great rule of thumb: If you think for a moment you could say or do something that would be considered inappropriate, just don't. Even a light-hearted joke can be misinterpreted the wrong way, so just don't risk it!

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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