Every year a business date of the special kind pops up in our calendar: The annual Christmas party. But how does a gentleman behave at such an event between work and pleasure? Blunders stay rarely within the event and can quickly damage your reputation. The following etiquette-manual might help.
Rule 1 – Go there
One might think about not going at all to avoid some serious blunders. However, by not going you will put your foot in it. By staying away from the celebration, you will quickly get the stamp of being arrogant and solitary. Furthermore it won’t help, if you cannot talk about all the fuss after the big party. However you should be careful not to become the subject of the fuss yourself.
Rule 2 – The dresscode
As for the dresscode, the business party is never to be confused with a family celebration. Except of course, you love to show yourself in a modest business look within the family. Of course you are allowed to take your nicer jacket out, maybe a pair of cufflinks or even a different hairstyle is alright. However you should always avoid any kind of garment, which might draw some office gossip with it. Save the duck tie for your family dinner. The bilious green jacket might draw some attention to it, but it is hardly any of the good kind. Neither jeans nor smoking are a suitable companion (unless it is expressly desired).
Rule 3 – The greeting
The first blunder might already happen at the greeting. Here too, just because the event carries the casual name ‘Christmas party’, this will change nothing on the formal greeting. Who doesn’t give kisses in the office, shall stick to the handshake. If possible, it is always a nice gesture to greet the host first (which is usually your boss).
Rule 4 – Eat and drink in moderation
The third rule is known by everyone – but not everyone follows it. As a gentleman you will let the other go first to the buffet (or at least the host). A gentleman does not look as if he hasn’t eaten for the whole day, only to dig in now. However if you are really hungry, better take several walks of smaller plates. An overloaded plate looks greedy and without manners. Pay attention to the eating technique – some dishes might look delicious but they will put you into eating dilemmas you do not want to solve in front of your boss. Even more importantly, you should drink in modesty. One shared glass of wine is social but after you should stick to modesty. No matter how much you can drink among friends; the business event is no place to demonstrate these skills. Even if your boss drinks more than you – the boss will (probably) be less of a gossip topic than the drunk employee who showed a nice dance on the table.
Rule 5 – The right conversation
Talking about dancing: If it is part of the program, it is completely appropriate to do so – as long as you do not show your marvelous moon walk. However if you are not dancing but talking to your boss and colleagues, always be careful. Especially when talking to your superiors, do not go overboard with your tone and choice of topic. Vacation, the soccer game, even the weather is fine. But personal problems, business and gossip about your colleagues should never be part of the discussion. Never address you boss informally – even if he does. This does not mean he will stick to it the next day of office.
Rule 6 – possible gifts
At some business celebrations, gifts are common. Ask your colleague of trust about it, before you turn up with a handful of gifts. Generally you should never give anything which is part of a side blow (perfume, a nicer tie, a coupon for the hairdresser). Nothing that seems to intimate (a weekend-trip for him and his wife) but rather something neutral. Maybe a good wine, delicacies or a nice whiskey. However, gifts are usually not that common.
Good manners, a friendly appearance without fraternizing with your boss, and finally, not being the last one to leave the party, is crucial for your annual Christmas party – being a true gentleman.