The holiday season can be stressful enough without all the etiquette worries that can also come with it. Knowing how to act in situations that combine socializing with your career can be tricky, so we checked in with a few etiquette experts to help remind you what you should— and shouldn’t—do.
Social invitations are usually something you can feel free to accept or decline, but the office holiday party is an exception to this rule. Consider it a professional obligation.
“It is a career-limiting move to skip the office holiday party. Show up, have some pleasant conversations and stay mostly sober,” advises workplace psychologist Jane Scarborough. Peoples’ opinions of you have definite sway, so if you’re looking to be promoted within a company, you should be ready to go to the holiday party and make a good impression.
Questions about gifts for employees and co-workers stress plenty of people out when the holidays roll around: Who do you buy for? What should you give?
“This is not the time to be exclusionary, so it is better to buy small gifts for everyone than more expensive gifts for just a few,” Scarborough says.
“If you’re thinking of doing a ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchange, give employees the chance to opt-out and keep the gifts simple, such as candles or coffee shop gift cards,” says Chelsea Lagrandeur, EA at Voices.com.
Another holiday challenge hits those who are trying to watch what they eat while everyone is bringing in tempting treats to share at the office. “Just say the truth, ‘No, thank you. I am trying to watch my weight and get back into shape,’” suggests Butterflyvista Corp. CEO Sarah Weinberger.