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Office parties: dos and don'ts

An office party is not about sitting through a few drinks with colleagues and making small talk with the guy from accounts. It is also not about having one too many and flirting with the guy from accounts! You should see your year-end bash as a chance to network and make a winning impression on colleagues and managers. We spoke to Courtenay Carey at Johannesburg's School of Etiquette about the dos and don'ts of office parties.  

Arrivals and departures
Aim to arrive no more than 10 minutes after the stipulated time and make sure that you leave before the last guests. The rule is never to be the first to arrive or the last to leave.

Cell phone rules
Out of sight is out of mind. Put your phone on silent and stash it safely in your handbag.  Texting or chatting on your cell phone at any social function is just plain rude, as tempting as it might be sometimes.

Network up a storm
Your boss should be one of the first people that you greet. Chat briefly and thank him/her for the evening and then move around the room and talk to as many of your colleagues as possible. Don't keep to yourself or huddle in a corner with your work mates.  

Remember that alcohol does loosen the tongue so steer clear of office gossip and sharing too much detail about your personal life. Lastly, it goes without saying that flirting and romantic hook-ups are a no-no. 

The devil is in the drinks
Getting drunk at an office party is not only embarrassing but it could also do some damage to your chances of advancement and promotion. Try to eat before you start drinking and be sure to drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. Know your limits and stick to them!

Chances are that you will drink more than you are legally allowed to so catch a taxi home or ask friends or family to fetch you.

Fiddling with finger food
Trying to hold on to your handbag, sip a glass of wine and eat a sausage roll is more than a little challenging and not very elegant. Courtenay shared this great tip: keep your right hand free to eat and sip at your drink by putting your glass on your plate. If you are drinking wine you can even anchor the glass by holding down the base with your thumb. Carry a bag that you can sling comfortably over your shoulder.

Final Word
Don't be the butt of office jokes the morning after the party. Stay sober, smile and get networking!


Designated Driver
As a 1st for Women policyholder, you can add Designated Driver Assist to your car, home or building insurance policies. Once you have signed up you can call on the services of two professional drivers to transport you and your car to the destination of your choice if you have had one drink too many and don't want to drive.


About The School of Etiquette
The School of Etiquette offers Corporate and Social Etiquette as well as International Protocol training. Find out more on their website

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