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Office Party 101

By Laura Oppenheimer in Food on Dec 6, 2006 6:05PM

It is that time of year again. Lights go up on the houses, department stores start making money, presents are picked out, wrapped, and then returned on the 26th. In other words, the holidays have arrived, which bring with them one additional bundle of joy (besides baby Jesus): The office holiday party!

2006_12_office.jpgThese sometimes-swanky affairs can be tricky to navigate for many of us. How tanked can I get and still look my co-workers in the eyes the next day? What is appropriate to wear? And can I bring my "and one"?

As we started researching office party etiquette, we started getting concerned. Apparently, these workplace get-togethers have all types of obstacles to navigate around. And if you screw up ... you might have some explaining to do the next morning.

First off, don't get drunk. In fact, don't drink at all, unless your boss is also drinking. While this can take the fun out of the holiday party, you don't want to be Alchy McDrunkerson while your boss is stone-cold sober. Follow the leader is the name of the game here.

When it comes to dressing for an office party, you should be able to determine what to wear based on the invitation. Unless it specifically says cocktail attire or formal, wear normal office attire, but with a festive upgrade. As we read in today's Red Eye:

The safe bet: What you normally wear to work, but kicked up a notch, not too sexy or too dull. A winter white suit instead of the gray one. Strappy, high-heeled sandals instead of flats.

Your guy: Same rules. What works for daytime is likely best for night, too.

If you aren't sure whether or not to bring a date, your best bet is to ask. If you are new and unsure of how your office's holiday party works, ask a co-worker. Bringing a guest when one isn't invited isn't only rude to the host, it will make you feel awkward as well.

From the talk around the water cooler in the Chicagoist offices, it seems like each company's holiday party is different. Some of us go bowling, some of us go to swanky hotels, some of us get bupkis. And if you feel cranky about what your office is offering, just be happy you don't work for Scrooge, er, the Sun-Times News Group.

How does your office say "Happy Holidays" to its employees?