How Not to Embarrass Yourself at the Company Holiday Party

What to do and not to do at your holiday office party this year.

Here are eight things not to do at the holiday office party:

1. Hang out with people you know

Elizabeth Grace Saunders, author of "The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment: How to Achieve More Success With Less Stress," recommends that you don't just talk to your work friends at the party.

"It's comfortable to make yourself cozy in the center of a group that already knows you, but that won't lead to the kind of meaningful connections that can help you get more done in the coming year," she writes for the Harvard Business Review blog. "After saying a quick, 'Hello,’ to your standard crew, look for people who you don't know very well."

2. Avoid key people

You might have never spoken a word to your boss or your boss' boss, but maybe it's time to introduce yourself over a glass of wine.

"If you find it impossible to schedule a meeting with certain individuals because of their packed calendar but you know they'll be at the event, reach out to them in advance," Saunders writes for the Harvard Business Review. "Suggest meeting up for a drink before the party or simply let them know you'll be at the event and looking for them. This will prime them to expect your approach and encourage you to make it a priority to find them."

3. Spend a long time with one person

Saunders gives practical advice about how to get out of a long conversation.

"If the conversation goes on for a while, enjoy the mingling and then gracefully exit by saying, 'It's been great to meet you, but I'm going to refresh my drink.' Or if you would like to keep in touch, say, 'Would it be OK if I contacted you to set up a 15-minute phone call to talk about XYZ?'

“That way, they will be more likely to accept the meeting request when you follow up," she writes. "Don't say that you'll follow up unless you actually want to and will do so."

A calendar note will help you remember, she says.

4. Think that the goal is to have fun

"This isn't about completely relaxing and letting loose, unless you want a starring role in the water cooler drama the next day," Saunders writes. "It's not about sampling each appetizer. It's not about hanging out with the same people you see at lunch every day. It is, however, about spending time with key individuals who you can't connect with organically because they're in a different functional area or located at different offices."

5. Conduct business

Don't conduct business or expect others to conduct business at the office holiday party, says XpertHR, an online human resources service. Among their other HR-friendly tips for holiday parties is to avoid mandatory attendance to minimize workers' compensation claims.

6. Drink too much

To stay within appropriate boundaries, avoid over-drinking at any party, but especially in front of your boss and colleagues.

XpertHR also recommends avoiding offensive and risqué entertainment.

"Be cautious about serving alcohol as this may lead to myriad issues such as injuries, discrimination, harassment and other inappropriate or offensive conduct," XpertHR advises.

7. Eat too much

Taking advantage of free food is a perk of an office holiday party, but don't be the person who hogs the chicken wings or dessert table.

8. Skip it

One of the most important things to do is to show up.

"If you like your job and plan to work there for a while, then it’s a good idea to attend the office party even if it’s only for an hour or so, notes career website Glassdoor. "If you are sick or going on vacation it’s one thing, but if you are blowing it off for no good reason, it’s a big no-no."