How Not to Be a Bore at the Office Holiday Party

It is the season of the office holiday party, an event portrayed by earnest bloggers as career-risking events to be survived rather than enjoyed. How wrong they are! Here are my tips,  first published last year on making the most of the opportunity to have some fun and score a few points with your boss. And no, they don’t involve wearing pajamas, drinking hot chocolate, and talking about health care.

This is the time of year when you will be flooded with earnest online advice on what NOT to do at your office party. If you follow the tips to the letter, you avoid the possibility of a pink slip the next day. You also miss a great opportunity to show the boss you have a little personality – and score major points over your more timid and docile competitors. So, just like I provided last year, here are five tips on how not to fade into the wallpaper at your holiday party.

1. Talk to the spouse of your boss. I don’t mean just mumble “high, nice to meet you” while staring at your hipster boots. Really talk – there is something he or she is passionate about and it is your job to find it. And obsess over it along with the spouse. No matter how lame it is.

2. Wear one go-to-hell item. If it is formal attire, throw on a Kris Kringle bow tie along with the black tux. Or a candy cane pocket square. Some snappy, vintage wool tartan pants look good with a blue blazer for business casual, or the same in skirt and sweater for women. If you are a bit “husky” and really funny by nature, toss on a Santa hat. You get the idea. WARNING – the rule is only ONE go-to-hell item per outfit. More than that you look like a municipal-course golfer in Toledo. Not good.

3. Listen to every word the boss utters. See rule 1. Really listen. The key to making an impression is not to drone on about your interests outside of work, like Madden football or online poker, but to let the boss impress you with hers. Even if you barely say a word other than to encourage her storytelling, she’ll walk away thinking you have bonded because of your shared interest in African butterflies.

4. Bring a cigar in your pocket. Even if you never touch tobacco, at some point you might be standing outside and some senior partner will be grumbling about the no-smoking fascists in the office. Present him with the stogie for a present. He’ll remember you.

5. Talk about religion and politics. This is for when you are stuck with a couple of your boring peers. If you want to escape, launch into some rant about how we should tax dogs, or adopt the Mayan calendar for Daylight Saving Time. They’ll think you’re crazy and walk off, giving you more time for chatting up the boss’ husband.

I hope you’ll find these ideas helpful. I know you won’t find them anywhere else. Yes, they are meant in the playful spirit of the holidays, but there are some ideas that might work for you. Try them out and let us know what happens.

Have a great holiday everyone! Thanks for your readership and commentary.