The holiday party season is officially here! This means office parties, decorated cubes and plenty of holiday cheer at the workplace. While all the festivities can create a more relaxed and friendly environment, it’s important to remain professional at the office during this time of the year to avoid long-term career damage.
Here are 12 of common mishaps to avoid this holiday season:
The Winter Wonder Cube. I’m all for showing your festive side, but there is a point when that non-stop electronic Santa’s ‘ho-ho-hoing’ gets unnerving. If you want to keep the peace in cube land, be respectful of your peers and keep your personal holiday wonderland in check. Cheer is great, but it’s all about moderation.
Spiking the Egg Nog. I’ll admit it, I’ve been known to lace my holiday punch with a little rum, but I always give all partakers fair warning. Make sure everyone knows what they are getting themselves into when consuming goods at the office party—especially when interns are invited. Make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic options available as well. Slogging the nog can definitely lead to workers getting more attention from the boss, just not the kind they need.
Sharing Your Calories. When the holiday season rolls in, the calorie train comes with it. Inevitably, there is always that one person who leaves their gifted holiday treats on the breakroom counter for everyone to enjoy. Is this really an act of altruism or is it a plot to pass unwanted calories of guilt on to the rest of us?
Getting a Little Too Gourmet. Fine foods are always fun, but sometimes they can get a little over the top in an office setting. Serving gourmet imported reindeer meat to your vegan boss at the holiday party is probably not the best way to climb the corporate ladder. If you want to get creative, be sure to know your audience before planning the menu!
Proselytizing Your Cheer. It’s important to keep in mind the real meaning of the holidays, and I believe in spreading cheer and lifting people’s spirits, but don’t get too heavy handed when it comes to sharing your religion in the office. It’s always good to be mindful of the other holidays and beliefs that coincide with the season.
Appointing Yourself as Parson Brown. If I have to explain who Parson Brown is, you clearly have never listened to holiday music (look up the song Winter Wonder Land – I like the Annie Lennox version). Don’t make assumptions about the guests your colleagues bring to the party. Sometimes single people will bring a friend as their date, so don’t assume the role of “Parson Brown” and try and hitch them on the spot!
Dropping the Deadline Ball. There is nothing worse than making people work over the holidays! Don’t let all the festivities overload your schedule and distract you from getting your work finished. Make sure to keep a tight schedule to keep you organized and make sure you hit all your deadlines so no one is working over the holidays because of your poor planning.
Keeping Your Holiday Circle Too Small . Remember in high school when you were the last one to hear about the big weekend party? OK, maybe that was just me. Anyway, be a uniter, not a divider this holiday season. When planning your office party, remember to include the entire office, including those that work overnight or behind the scenes. The holidays are about inclusion, so boo to you if you forgot to invite all those people who make your life easier.
Turning Secret Santa into Freaky Santa. Office gift exchanges can be fun, until someone crosses the line. Giving a too-personal gift can be awkward so make sure to keep your gifts clean and appropriate.
Hard-selling Your Charity. We all have our causes and yes, the season is about giving…to a point. When asking for donations turns to hard selling, people tend not to feel so good about their gifts. So, don’t push your kid’s cheesy charity gift wrap on your coworkers who are afraid to say no.
Being too Sexy for Your Santa. Office festivities can be a great time to debut new holiday attire, but always keep it professional. An adult-themed Santa suit, a short dress and a too-casual outfit are never appropriate for work parties.
Being the Office Grinch. Mean people are annoying any time of the year, but a bad attitude during the holidays is particularly annoying. We all have lapses where we take ourselves way too seriously, so just keep that in mind and try to maintain a positive attitude to avoid spoiling your co-workers’ holiday.
Remember, whatever faith you subscribe to the season is about being thankful and showing gratitude.
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. Dr. Woody is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership. Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook.