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Holiday Party Etiquette

Company & Personal Holiday Party Etiquette

The winter months are filled with all types of parties to celebrate everything from religious holidays and family gatherings to fundraisers and corporate functions.  With so many invitations coming in, and so many people and groups vying for your attention during the holiday party season, it might be difficult to know how to act when attending any of those holiday celebration functions.  This guide should help remind you of the holiday party etiquette attached to each holiday party celebration.


Corporate Holiday Party Etiquette

corporate holiday party

For company holiday parties, corporate holiday parties, fundraising holiday events and other company or corporate-focused holiday celebrations, there is a relatively easy-to-follow set of company holiday party etiquette rules to which you should stick.
    • Attire – pay close attention to the venue, the time of day, the guest list and the theme of a corporate event to be sure to dress accordingly.  Upscale venues, times of day that fall after the average workday, an adults-only guest list and a theme that pertains to something classy or chic has a drastically different dress code than something family-friendly, held during the workday and located in your office’s conference room.
    • What to bring – do your best to understand the theme of the corporate holiday event.  If theevent benefits a fundraiser, bring the appropriate funding, donations, etc.  If the event is just a fun event for your coworkers and their families, bring yourself and a smile.  Be sure to read the invitation closely so as not to miss anything important.
    • Who to bring – your invitation will specify if you can bring a guest, if the event is family-friendly or if the event is adults-only. The person/people that you bring should match the invitation.  It would be inappropriate to bring your small children to an adults-only event, or to bring your spouse to a coworkers-only luncheon (especially if the company is paying and you aren’t paying for yourself).
    • Who to thank – be sure to thank the hosts of the event or evening, whether that be your boss, a planning committee, the management team, etc.
    • What to say – in this time of ever-changing suitable social remarks, be sure to keep your greetings and sayings as commonly-acceptable as possible. “Happy holidays!” and “Season’s greetings!” are two widely-used sayings that encompass all holidays, religious backgrounds,political stances and more.  Avoid saying “Merry Christmas!” or other holiday-specific greetings as some cultures do not celebrate all cultures.  If, however, you are with a group that does celebrate that particular holiday (such as a Christian fundraiser for a church), holiday-specific greetings are acceptable.

Personal Holiday Party Etiquette

personal parties

For personal holiday parties, family holiday gatherings, holiday parties with friends, religious holiday celebrations and more, a casual, easier-going atmosphere (when compared to corporate holiday parties) is usually present.  Follow this personal holiday party etiquette when attending a non-corporate holiday function.
    • Attire – your personal holiday party will likely be held at someone’s house, a church, a community center, a restaurant or some other common space.  Be sure to dress to fit the location and event, meaning you should utilize “dress-casual” or “semi-formal” for a church function or dinner, and holiday colors, sweaters, etc. for a casual holiday party.
    • What to bring – if your personal holiday function is a potluck, be sure to bring something that everyone can enjoy.  This means avoiding anything with potential allergens, health issue aggravators and more.  A safe bet is usually a fruit or vegetable platter with a couple of different kinds of dips (yogurt, hummus, etc.).
    • Who to bring – be sure to read your invitation!  It will specify if you are able to bring your family, children, a friend, a date, coworkers, fellow church members, etc.
    • Who to thank – remember to thank your hosts, whether that consists of family members,friends, church group or other party planning individuals.
    • What to say – as with corporate holiday gatherings, it is important to tailor your holiday greetings to fit the masses.  In mixed company, say “Season’s greetings!” or “Happy holidays!” in lieu of “Merry Christmas.”  In a holiday-specific group where no feelings could get hurt, feel free to use holiday-specific greetings (for example, “Happy Hanukkah” in a celebration with others who celebrate Hanukkah).

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