The Holiday Survival Guide to Office Etiquette

Look what just popped up in your inbox—an invitation to the holiday office party! Although you’ve reached that point in your professional career where you understand the merits of not running around with a lampshade over your head, there’s still so much to know about navigating the tricky seas of holiday workplace festivities. Without further ado, here are some tips to help you steer the way—and through it all, you’ll even have some fun. So here we go!

Gifting at the office—a guide to appropriate gifts for everyone

- Gift exchange — The fun is definitely in the giving AND the getting! There are many variations of the holiday gift exchange, such as the white elephant or secret Santa. It all starts with participants drawing a card from a hat—whether it's to select the name of the person to bring a gift for, or a number designating the gift selection order. To create cards to match the spirit of the occasion, try Avery Business Cards, and customize them using the Avery Design & Print Online program. You can add each participant’s name on one side of the card, and your company logo or party theme on the flip side. Detach the cards from the sheet and you’ll have neat and sturdy cards for the drawing—and ready to be reused as gift tags!

- Gift swapping with a twist — Rather than bringing random gifts for the exchange, assign a theme instead. Ornaments, cookies, or DVDs can be just as much fun to swap, and sometimes a bit more practical than receiving a generic gift.

- Gifting to the boss — Thoughtful but not too personal, high-quality but not too over the top. Can you go wrong with gourmet coffee or tea? Or how about movie theatre tickets, or a gift card to a local restaurant? Another go-to is a quality scarf. It’s universally appreciated and no sizing is needed.

- Gifting to employees — Give a token of your appreciation to your employees and let them know their hard work and efforts are recognized.  For a practical present, consider a planner for the new year. Or how about a charming package filled with thoughtful gifts of good tidings: spa certificates and relaxing candles for hard-working associates, or sugar-free treats and healthy snacks for a crew watching their weight. To make your gifts extra special, create customized seals using Avery Labels and personalize them with unique messages for each of your recipients using Avery Design & Print Online.

Rock the office potluck this year

- Potluck organizers — Holiday potlucks are ubiquitous, but they've gotten more complicated over the years. Does the food contain peanuts? Is it gluten free? Avoid trepidation and confusion by labeling the food with buffet cards. They’re a snap to make using Avery Folded Business Cards. Just customize with the Avery Design & Print Online program to feature the name of the dish, important dietary information, and even add a festive trim around the border. And if you don’t know what people are bringing, just create a supply of blank cards so guests can fill them out when they arrive with their culinary creations.

- Potluck recipes — If you’re at a loss on what to make, go online and check out a variety of food websites for potluck-friendly recipes, cooking tips, and ideas.

- Potluck games — Let’s eat, drink and be merry! Instead of using place cards to designate where people should sit, use them for fun and games. For example, you might decorate each place setting using an Avery Folded Business Card printed with a different holiday symbol, then hold a drawing to raffle off prizes. Another idea is to assign each table a different line from a carol and place it on the table. As you go through the song, the members of each table should stand up as a group to belt out their line when it comes up, and everyone sings the chorus.

Office parties—steer clear of snafus

- Drinking — Should you or shouldn’t you drink alcohol? Along with the holidays come a large number of social obligations to make you feel you very well deserve a time to let loose and celebrate. This, however, is not the time. As free-flowing as those beverages may be, as merry as the music jingles, as cheery as the company feels, underneath, it’s all business. You’re in a work environment, and it pays to play it safe. If you do like to drink, try having one alcoholic beverage at the outset, which can take the edge off of mingling, then sticking to soda or tonic water for the rest of the night.

- Talking — When it’s time to mingle, it doesn’t all have to be small talk—it’s also a chance to get to know one another better, exchange ideas, and relive the past year’s memorable moments. Come armed with some conversation starters to make the mingling easier. Make a point to talk to people you don’t know—you might end up developing key contacts in other departments. And don’t avoid the higher ups—this is an opportunity to introduce yourself and make yourself known to executives in your company. Be friendly and confident, but not all business. Excuse yourself before taking up too much of their time, and move on to the next person. Remember, you’re all there to have fun.

- Dressing — Make an effort to find out the level of formality. Is the party casual or formal? Fun and relaxed, or reserved and dressy? Are spouses or plus-ones invited? A little homework goes a long way towards making the right impression and a carrying out a triumphant night of hobnobbing.

Office holiday celebrations can bring you closer to your coworkers and spread a little cheer. Let these simple tips guide you away from awkward moments and help make this holiday successful and fun for you and your office mates.