The end of the calendar year is approaching fast, and the season’s festivities are upon us all including the all important end of year office party.  While there may be good food and spirits flowing, this is not the time to cut loose with bosses and co-workers looking on. Veterans of holiday parties past know this too well, but for those of you wanting to maintain your professionalism whilst having a great time, listen up!

The potential pitfalls of attending the office party are fairly obvious — where alcohol is involved, it seems the sky is the limit for the number of ways an employee can get himself or herself into trouble. Thoughts and feelings often kept under healthy, prudent wrap in the safety of the office seem to run amok at these events.

Given all the landmines, why not just skip the office party entirely? Because the upside is, you are there and there are way too many opportunities to miss if you are not present.  Networking is one of the benefits of after-hours assemblages.  And let’s face it, if something interesting actually does happen, you’ll be there to witness it first-hand.

But do remember, this is an office event. So technically anything that happens at the office party will not stay at the office party—it becomes a part of your reputation and personnel file. Below are a few dos and don’ts to help you manoeuvre through the holiday office party successfully:-

1) Don’t wear any of those articles of clothing that your dress code disallows in the office.  If it’s too high, too low, or too tight, save it for the after party.

2) Do feel free to get dressed up and into the spirit of the event. If there is an opportunity to sparkle and shine amongst your workers this is it. But do it with style and class!

3) Do enjoy a glass or three of wine or a drink if it pleases you. But pace yourself, you don’t want to be the one being carried out before 11pm and have no recollection the following day on what happened and why your head is throbbing,

4) Don’t twerk on a tabletop with a lampshade on your head. Not only will you miss the disapproving glare from your line manager or executive, you may actually fall and hurt yourself or someone else

5) Do dance on the dance floor with just enough flare to inspire a good-natured competition

6) Don’t use the party as an opportunity for one-on-one time with your boss to discuss the latest revision to your unit’s strategic plan. He or she probably doesn’t want to talk shop in competition with the festivities, and besides, she’s too busy making sure she isn’t crushed by the lampshade-masked maniac twerking on the tabletop.

7) Keep on the right side of social media. Your tweets may seem witty to you after a few glasses of prosecco, but are probably not appropriate at an office party. Similarly, putting anything disparaging about the party, your colleagues or your job in general can be career suicide; chances are you have someone from work on your Facebook or Twitter who may not find it as funny as you. A general rule of thumb should be to not post anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable showing your boss or clients so put your phone away and focus on mingling and communicating the old-fashioned way.

8) Do make sure you find time to say hello to everyone who matters and share a positive message about each person’s past accomplishments or your anticipation of the good things to come in the New Year.  Remember that sometimes the people who matter most are the administrative team members who support your success.

9) Thank the organisers – a lot of coordinating goes on behind the scenes to ensure the office party runs smoothly and is enjoyable for everyone. It is polite to thank the committee, preferably in person otherwise send an email the following day thanking them for their efforts.

10) Finally – use the occasion to boost your own reputation. If you keep your wits about you and maintain a jovial but steady presence, the holiday office party has the potential to expand your network significantly. Decide who do you want to be… the ambassador of your department spreading goodwill across the organisation and incidentally rubbing shoulders with the new director of marketing? Or the unfortunate party animal sporting day-after stitches and a concussion, the result of a nasty fall from that tabletop? Assuming you take the road more safely traveled, have fun and enjoy the good cheer of the season!