You’ve shared conference calls and countless meetings with your coworkers, and now it’s time to eat, drink, and be merry with them at your office holiday party. You check your invitation and notice you’re allowed to bring a “plus one.” Whether you’re attached or single, here are some tips to make sure you–and your potential date–have a jolly good time.
As the Host:
Always Introduce Your Date: Your partner has heard you talking about “Dave from accounting,” and now it’s finally time to put a face to the name. When you do make the introduction, bring up a personal detail about your coworker to ensure the conversation steers away from work.
“Meet Anna. She’s my coworker who just adopted the golden retriever.” Or, “Meet Bill. He always brings in the best chocolate chip cookies.”
Your goal is to equip your date with enough information to engage with your coworkers in a comfortable and confident way.
Keep Your Date Well Fed and Well Hydrated: If your date’s drink is low (and he isn’t already tipsy), offer to refill his glass. Also, since booze is flowing at these events, make sure your partner is eating and staying hydrated with water. Let your date know you might need to take breaks to mingle, but that you’ll still be keeping an eye on him and will try your best to make as many early introductions as possible.
Don’t Make Your Date Your Babysitter: Speaking of booze, make sure you’re keeping your own intake in check. Avoid any situation that leaves your date: a) carrying you home b) babysitting you over the toilet, or c) all of the above. You don’t want to regret your antics on Monday morning, either. Alternate an alcoholic beverage with a soda or water to keep drunken antics at bay.
As the Guest:
Dress Up: Even though it’s not your office work party, you still want to dress to impress. Wearing something too casual like jeans and sneakers or a wrinkled shirt will reflect poorly on your date (and will probably make her feel a bit embarrassed). You’ll also want to avoid anything too tight or revealing.
Give Your Date Some Space: The holiday work party is a great opportunity for your date to show off some personality, so let her do her thing. If the conversation starts to get technical, feel free to excuse yourself. Grab a drink and mingle with others; it will give your date a chance to fulfill work-related conversations and show her that you can handle yourself without constant supervision. If you have any qualms about your date’s behavior, save your discussion until the end of the evening when you’re both home and have privacy.
Be Your Best Self: When engaging with your date’s coworkers, while together or solo, be polite and friendly (even if you’ve heard bad things about them). Refrain from participating in office politics or repeating private conversations that you’ve had with your partner. If you’re comfortable with it, talk up your SO to her superiors (but not in a fake, suck up-way). And, this goes without saying, but still: don’t flirt with anyone else but your date!