It’s that time of year – holiday food, festivities and the requisite holiday office party. While we all want to kick back and relax at holiday events, it’s important to remember that you are still interacting with colleagues. This means that while it’s more than appropriate to “let your hair” down to some extent and socialize, you are still at a business function and you should temper your behavior accordingly. At all times when it comes to business protocol, what you say and what you do at company events is a refection of your personal brand. Here are just a few simple dos and don’ts to consider before you celebrate the holidays with your office mates. Don’t drink too much.Some of you may have encountered a situation while out with co-workers when someone drank a little too much. If an extreme drinking infraction, this may have impacted that person’s career with the company.

You don’t want this to happen to you. The best rule of thumb is to drink in moderation whenever you are socializing with co-workers, office holiday party or otherwise. Dress appropriately. As with any workplace situation, the way you dress is the way you will be perceived. While the holiday party is a great time to switch from business attire to more festive dress, the same rules apply when it comes to dressing for work. Keep it simple and keep it somewhat conservative. Low cut gowns, crazy holiday get-ups or anything that is extreme should not be worn to a business event, even the annual holiday gathering. Mix and mingle.The office holiday party is a terrific time to interact with co-workers you may not have the opportunity to mingle with during the course of day-to-day business. It’s also an opportune time to introduce yourself to senior managers – and potentially advance your career.

Be prepared for these interactions in advance by brushing up on the latest news, industry events and company business. Make a good impression and introduce yourself to managers who you would like to work with and weave these topics into small talk. Remember, you are always being observed. Everyone wants to enjoy themselves, even managers, and while they will not be paying close attention to you, rest assured, if you act or dress inappropriately, you will have their full attention. Your behavior is always on display at work.

Know when it’s time to leave.

While you want to stay at your holiday event for an acceptable length of time, it’s always best to make a timely and graceful exit. You do not want to be the last man standing at the bar or the buffet. Find your boss and thank them for a wonderful evening and personally say happy holidays. Finally, have fun. It is a holiday soiree after all. Happy Holidays.

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