Office holiday parties on the rise post #MeToo: Do's and Don'ts

76% of companies plan to throw a holiday party this year

The office holiday party is making a comeback.

More than half of companies (76 percent) plan to throw holiday parties this year, the largest number since 2016, according to a survey from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a recruiting and outplacement consultancy. That number is up 11 percentage points from 2018 when a slew of holiday parties was canceled due to concerns related to the #MeToo movement of employees coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment faced in the workplace.

More than half of companies in the U.S. plan to have a holiday celebration.

But just because more companies are hosting holiday parties, doesn’t mean it's an excuse to overindulge and do or say something you might later regret, career coaches say.

“Recognize that your boss is there. Even though it’s a celebration for the work, you’re still being judged based on your appropriateness. Exercise discretion and moderation,” Roy Cohen, a New York City-based executive coach and career counselor who authored “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide,” told FOX Business.

Employees, for the most part, seem to welcome the office holiday party. More than 80 percent of over 1,000 employees polled in Office Depot's “What Employees Want in an Office Holiday Party” survey believe office holiday parties positively impact relationships with co-workers and boost workplace morale. And nearly 57 percent said they felt more comfortable attending a workplace holiday party held off-site, compared to just 42 percent who preferred to stay on-site.

Here are the do’s and don'ts for how to navigate your office holiday party.

Do: Be prepared to pitch yourself

Employees may get the chance to introduce themselves to a company executive or client who is hard to reach during the year. Cohen said it’s important to come prepared with a few lines about what you do, your contributions at the company, and pitch an idea if you have one in mind.

“Be prepared to make sure they know who you are for all the right reasons,” Cohen said. “It’s probably you’re only time of year when you get to tap dance a little bit.”

Do: Dress professionally

The Society for Human Resource Management says that while formal attire is not expected at an office party, employees should adhere to a business casual dress code for the workplace.

“We discourage inappropriate attire at company events since you will be among co-workers, clientele, vendors, customers and their families,” the SHRM cautions.

The Society for Human Resource Management suggests business casual attire at office holiday parties.

Cohen said dressing unprofessionally or provocatively, whether you’re a man or a woman, could send the wrong message.

“Don’t dress in a way that will encourage people to misunderstand the impression that you want to make,” he said.


Don’t: Drink too much.

Overindulging can make you look unprofessional in front of colleagues, clients and your boss, Cohen said.

“Sometimes at parties people who have too much alcohol suffer from poor judgment,” Cohen said, suggesting employees pace themselves or refrain from drinking altogether.

Perhaps the ultimate example of “what not to do” when indulging can be seen exhibited in the 2016 comedy “Office Christmas Party” in which two employees threw a tequila-fueled bash.