Holiday Season Party Etiquette: Dos and Don’ts

Hallowe’en is over and Bonfire Night is behind us. That means, of course, that the holiday season will soon be in full swing, Invitations will be coming your way for all manner of parties and holiday get-togethers.

At work Christmas parties and other gatherings, you’ll be mingling with different groups of friends and acquaintances. Let’s be honest – sometimes it can feel like a social minefield.

However, here at Polished Manners, we are experts in modern etiquette and manners. We have come up with top tips for office parties and house parties, to help you navigate these occasions with style and aplomb.

Office party etiquette

1. Don’t get drunk

Our most important tip for an office party is this: do not consume too much alcohol. One or two drinks should be your limit. It can be very tempting to push the boat out and have a wild night carousing with your colleagues but remember that you will have to face them, and any bad decisions, on Monday morning!

2. Network

Use the occasion to get to know new people that you may not mix with in your day-to-day work. Put others at ease and make a great impression that could help further your career.

Try not to confine your discussions to purely work topics and show an interest in your colleagues. Ask open-ended questions to find out more about them and make them feel comfortable. What are their hobbies, do they have plans for New Year, or are they planning a holiday, for example?

3. Avoid controversy

The office party is not the time or place to air grievances.  Never bad-mouth the boss or gossip about colleagues. Try to avoid controversial subjects of conversation.

Striking up office romances at the party should also be treated with caution. Bear in mind that you must work with these people for the other 364 days of the year, and act accordingly.

4. Gift appropriately

Office parties sometimes involve a Secret Santa. Stick to the set budget and don’t buy a ‘comedy’ gift. A plant, a candle or perhaps a box of chocolates or biscuits are safer bets. Even though the party may take place off-site or outside of working hours, you’re still effectively at work and should try to maintain an air of professionalism.

5. Thank the host and leave on time

Don’t forget to thank your boss or the host of the party and always say your goodbyes and leave at a reasonable time. Being the last one standing is never a good look.

A friend’s party

1. Take a gift

When attending a party at someone’s home, you must always take a gift. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but a box of chocolates, a candle, a plant or an aqua bouquet of seasonal flowers are universally acceptable gift ideas.

2. Abide by the rules

Always RSVP. It’s the height of bad manners to ignore an invitation or to turn up unexpectedly if you have not responded on time. (This article from Tatler has more advice about RSVP etiquette).

If the party has a dress code, make sure you adhere to it. Don’t bring any uninvited guests and arrive on time but never early.

If there is no set time for the party to end, a good rule of thumb is to leave when half the other guests have gone home.

3. Offer to help

A good guest in someone’s home should always offer to help – collect glasses, pass plates or wash up. Your host may well decline your offer, but a simple, “what can I do to help?” is a gesture that shows your appreciation for all their hard work in hosting the party.

4. Be complimentary

Make sure you compliment the food and drinks and the host’s home. This is not a time to be scrupulously honest – if your friend has burned the canapés or the white wine is a little too warm, it’s not necessary to mention it. And always, always thank the host.

5. Don’t overindulge

It’s fun to have a few drinks and enjoy some great food but make sure that you don’t overfill your plate or have one cocktail too many. If it’s a party where little food will be served, make sure you eat beforehand so you’re not hungry and at risk of monopolising the canapés.

6. Keep it light

When chatting with fellow guests avoid subjects such as religion or politics, and don’t gossip about people, particularly if they are at the same party. For your own enjoyment, that of fellow guests and your hosts, keep the mood light and jovial as much as possible.

Remember that correct etiquette and good manners put others at ease and build relationships, so follow these simple guidelines and enjoy a wonderful holiday season.

For more information and expert advice about all aspects of modern manners and etiquette, contact Polished Manners today. We offer training courses and one-to-one tuition for individuals and groups, both adults and children.