Don’t talk about work. Company social events are opportunities to unwind and get know your coworkers socially. There is always the guy who doesn’t understand these boundaries and starts to go over the numbers in the report he sent you yesterday.
Don’t get drunk. You would think this is common sense but I see this mistake time and time againSomeone gets drunk at the company function and then does or says something inappropriate. The rude sexual or racist joke, over-sharing of personal info, or company bitterness confessions – are “career enders”.
Don’t get there too early or late. If you show up too early, you will be forced to sit next to the nerdy guy from IT or accounting who also decided to show up early (since it will be only the both of you at the table and it would be too awkward if you deliberately chose the seat furthest from him). If you show up too late, your punishment will be taking the only seat left and sitting beside the company social lepur whom no one wanted to sit next to (same seat you would have gotten if you had showed up too early – think nerdy guy in IT or accounting)
Don’t fight to get a seat next to the boss. There will be time later in the evening to get some face time with the boss. Playing musical chairs to sit beside her is desperate.
Don’t take a seat at the head of the table (unless you are prepared to pay).
Don’t spend too much or too little on the gift exchange. Despite the $20 dollar spending limit, there’s always the guy who goes overboard and brings the brand new x-box or ipod. Spending too much makes you look desperate and exposes your neurotic need for approval. Besides, it makes your colleague who re-gifted the faded chipped mug from his kitchen cupboard look extra cheap. And if this isn’t enough, the one expensive gift floating amongst the sea of junk creates the perfect condition for company competition in the White Elephant gift exchange game. This is the gift exchange game where each participant has a option of stealing someone else’s unwrapped gift rather than choosing their own mystery gift.
Don’t feel like you have to participate in gift exchange. The company Christmas gift exchange is not mandatory, especially if your religious beliefs prevent you from participating. Remember that the company gift exchange is on a voluntold basis. For our Muslim friends, just think of how your coworkers feel when you pressure them to fast during Ramadan. And for our Jewish readers, consider your coworker’s feelings when you force them to go for Chinese food on Christmas day.
Photo by kyochi http://www.flickr.com/photos/koyochi/437850521/