Office Christmas Party opened across the country and my husband and I ran to see it this past weekend. The movie, featuring a number of top notch comedians, looked hilarious. However, as someone who teaches etiquette for a living, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was more curious to see the film from a business standpoint. Call it research. After dedicating a chapter in my book on the subject titled, “Beware the Office Holiday Party,” I was waiting for an endless stream of salacious behaviors represented and the movie did not disappoint. It had the requisite token lush, the photocopying of private parts, the swinging from the ceiling, etc. But for me, the most hilarious character was the Human Resources lady played by the white hot Kate McKinnon. She pegged the stereotypical role to a tee lurking in the background and painstakingly trying to keep everyone on the straight and narrow.

It’s been quite a while since I worked in a big office environment, but I remember the holiday office parties well. They were always something we worker-bees looked forward to with anticipation as they provided an opportunity to hang with the higher ups, show off our significant others and, if it was a good party, let loose on the dance floor until the wee hours of the morning. 

Before you head out to celebrate with your co-workers, remember these seven tips to be merry AND maintain your job in twenty-seventeen.  It may be a night designed for fun, but not worth jeopardizing your career. Rather than approaching the evening as a free for all reward for your hard work, use it as an opportunity to network, advance, and shine.

1. Dress. This is not the time to let your freak flag fly as they used to say, and this goes for women, as well as men! Maintain professionalism, keep it classy and appropriate. Refrain from showing midriff’s, low decolletage, or wearing any other scantily clad items.

2. Ration the Booze. Regardless of how appealing an open bar may be, limit yourself to one or two drinks at most.  Keep yourself hydrated by filling a glass with ice and water. Don’t forget to graze on food throughout the night to soak up any extra alcohol. Trust me, you will not be sorry when you see your friend from accounting dancing on the conference table and drunk­enly mimicking the CEO. 

3. Overstuffing. You are not piling your plate for your last meal. Plus, it can get weird watching our work colleagues gorge themselves. Grab a protein bar beforehand or microwave a bag of popcorn to take the edge off. This way when you arrive at the party, your focus will be on socializing with your work peers, not devouring your food. 

4. Self-control. Avoid hitting on your office crush on the dance floor with everyone watching. Save your hidden talents for gyrating, bumping, grinding and twerking when you’re at the club after-party no longer on the company’s time or dime. 

5. Badmouthing. Don’t let loose with your opinions or divulge personal thoughts especially negative ones about the boss, colleagues or the company.  Alcohol gives people a false sense of courage that can go terribly wrong fast.  Beware what you say at the holiday office party, it may not be forgiven.

6. Secret Santa Shame. That suggestive gift you received from your college buddy should not make its way into your Secret Santa exchange. Purchase a new gift, stick to the allotted amount, and select something that anyone would enjoy.  

7. Recognition. A nice note of thanks to the person responsible for organizing that lavish, super fantastic office party is a sure way to be recognized and stand out in the new year.