should you attend your office holiday party?

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I’m a big fan of the idea that office parties and other social events shouldn’t be mandatory — when an event is intended to be a morale-building treat, requiring attendance often rubs people the wrong way. However, that’s advice for employers. On the employee side of things, you’re still left with the question of whether you should attend office social events, even when you don’t feel like it.

And many people don’t feel like it. A recent survey by Glassdoor found that only 5 percent of employees named a holiday celebration as a perk they’re hoping for at work this year.

But I’m here to tell you that you should go anyway. Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I explain why. You can read it here.

{ 177 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. J

    I work for an extremely large organization–which I might be leaving at the end of the month (I received a job offer earlier this week). Would it reflect poorly on me to attend the holiday party even though I’m leaving? It will be my only opportunity to say goodbye in person to a number of people I work with across my organization, so I would really like to go, but I don’t want to be accused of slacking off during the transition.

    Reply
    1. Lanya

      You should go *especially* because you are leaving. I think it would give the opposite impression if you didn’t go, as if you didn’t want to spend any more time with these people than you have to.

      Reply
  2. Anon

    “You can handle that in exchange for not being known as the one person in your department who doesn’t accept the company’s invitation for a night out. ”

    Except the party is AT the office. The manager wastes so much time, effort and money to arrange and decorate the office instead of holding it elsewhere. Have yet to receive the interoffice e-mail about how much they expect us to contribute for gifts for the bosses/owners.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I may have phrased “night out” badly — think of it instead as your employer inviting you to something where they’ll show hospitality. In general, there’s an argument for accepting such an invitation from the people who sign your check, particularly when it’s once a year.

      Now, I say that as someone who would much rather not go to these things most of the time — but it’s worth being practical about the perception you might be creating.

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    But I leave work for the day at 1pm, I have a 45 minute commute without traffic, and the party is always held on Thursdays after work and is sometimes held at locations farther away from home than my job (so I’d have to drive 45+ minutes back to work in order to attend)…. and I have pay for my husband’s meal if I bring him, and the drinks are not free!!

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      AND the other party I actually do take part in is during the day, and is a luncheon… except we have to pay for the food (ordered buffet style, and I’m a small girl, so I end up paying $15.00 for like $5.00 worth of food)…. AND we have a yankee swap, which is another $15.00 I have to blow on a gift (that is a price range given).

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      That’s hard and not much fun for you. But, if you care about your job, please consider making the effort. It’s only once a year. Let hubby have a boy’s night out and you go.

      Reply
      1. Vicki

        Seriously, if you have to say “if you care about your job, please consider making the effort [to go]” then you really needed to look for another job.

        Your job should _never_ hinge on whether you attend a party.

        Reply
    3. Rana

      Am I the only person feeling confused by all these different (?) Anonymous posters? It’s really helpful if you make up a username, if you don’t want to give your real one.

      Reply
  4. Michael

    While I agree with the points you mention Alison, random socialization scares the hell out of me so I won’t be attending mine this year. I can carry on conversations and relax among known friends but I’ve never gotten the approach down and large gatherings simply frighten me.

    Reply
    1. KellyK

      I think if you can’t manage the anxiety enough to *not* be the one moping in the corner (or stuttering nervously, or whatever happens when you’re in those situations), then it’s worth not going. All the perks of going to the office party are probably a) not worth the hit to your mental health and b) not going to happen if it’s obvious that you’re uncomfortable.

      It might be worth pursuing counseling or something similar to get to the point where you can deal with random socialization, since a lot of jobs require it, officially or unofficially.

      Reply
      1. Michael

        It’s not that I stutter or go bat shit crazy at the sight of another human being though I’m sure there are some obvious tells that I don’t particularly enjoy myself in random social settings. I have considered counseling but I do well in smaller, more social settings which leads me to believe That’s Just Who I Am(TM). However, in larger, more disjointed teams I’m not exactly going to go out and meet new people randomly.

        The unease comes from an unknown social context. Once I have that with someone then I’m good. So, in the small teams I’ve been in the context is working collaboratively and I gradually get to know them in other ways over time. However, in larger ones for me to just to go up to someone I barely know and probably don’t work with is a point of anxiety.

        Reply
        1. Paige

          Here are some conversation topics that might help you:

          How do you know the host of this party?
          How has your year been?
          What have you been doing for fun after work?
          What’s your favorite part of the holidays?

          Reply
          1. some1

            Just DON’T ask “What do you do here at [name of company]?” unless you are dang sure you’re not talking to the CEO.

            Reply
        2. JBwmn

          I think the main point of this article wasn’t that “oh, these events aren’t so bad, you might have fun!” – but rather that it might be a good for your career. And if you feel that all the ways that it might be good for your career (the boss making mental notes, meeting someone face to face that you usually only talk to on the phone, meeting some of the higher ups, etc.) are canceled out by how you feel you’ll act at the party – then going may not be good for your career. However, if you approach it like “I’m going for work, going to make a good (but quick) nice impression, and leave” – then it might be easier.

          Going to work parties, dinners, cocktail events is part of a job I now have – that when I first started I found horribly awkward and uncomfortable. But the more I’ve gone to, the easier it is. In these events where I really don’t want to be and know very few people, I make a mental list of the people I need to talk to and how long I have to stay. I’m paid for my time at these events, so it truly is part of my job to find a way to be an appropriate party guest. But by taking the attitude of “it’s my job” vs. “something else would be more fun” – I’ve found them easier.

          Reply
    2. A1Rd

      Wow, I feel exactly like you! I don’t plan on attending mine this year either. I’m the quieter one in the office and don’t socialize much with my co-workers during the day except work related stuff. I think it would be too awkward to go make the appearance at the party but not chit-chat. Glad I’m not the only one feeling this way.

      Reply
    3. bluefin

      I feel the exact same way. I also find random socialization, especially among colleagues, to be scary, unpleasant and the last thing I ever want to do. Despite this, I have always forced myself to make an appearance at the major parties throughout the year (mainly a Christmas and summer party). I have been doing this for 6 years now and it hasn’t gotten any better in terms of being scary, awkward and uncomfortable. However, I continue to force myself to go because I do think that making these “appearances” has been a benefit to my career, which to me outweighs the awkwardness and unpleasentness that I experience while I’m there :)

      Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Was just thinking about this. I’m not going to my company’s party – just not into it and I’ve been with the company for a number of years. But I am beginning interviewing for a new job with another firm, and realized I’d probably go for the first year or two I was a new employer so as not to rock the boat. But leave early.

    @J – no way would it reflect poorly on you.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous

    Our office party is an extravagant dinner at a fancy restaurant in Philadelphia, followed by celebratory drinks at the hotel bar where the boss pays for the employees and our significant others to stay overnight. Which is very generous of him.

    However, driving to and around the city causes me anxiety, and partying with my coworkers is not generally my idea of fun. But I don’t think anyone has ever not gone to the party, and I would feel very uncomfortable being the only person to say no. So I go, but I’m not looking forward to the stress.

    I’m grateful that he wants to do something nice for us, but honestly, I would be happier if he would take the thousands of dollars he’s spending on the party and add it to each of our year-end bonuses.

    Reply
    1. twentymilehike

      I’m grateful that he wants to do something nice for us, but honestly, I would be happier if he would take the thousands of dollars he’s spending on the party and add it to each of our year-end bonuses.

      Yes.
      And it stings even more when the boss is oblivious to things like …
      He drives a brand new luxury car, while ALL of the employees are struggling to keep their beaters running.
      The employees pack lunches or eat off the dollar menu while the boss takes a multi-hour sit-down restaurant lunch daily.
      The boss brings in their photos from their month long foreign vacation, knowing that employees have a ton of accrued PTO because they can’t afford travel expenses.

      Don’t get me wrong–I definately think the boss is welcome to enjoy these things if they are within their budget. However, it just chaps my britches when they rub it in and are completely insensitive to those around them that are not in the same boat. Especially when daddy is to thank.

      I swear I’m not bitter.

      Reply
  7. Anonymous

    Ours is a luncheon at the office, and the office closes half day afterward. But it’s on a Tuesday, we have to play games, and talk in the lunchroom was about gettting a pony keg in the parking lot. Classy.

    Reply
  8. Kristoff

    So many people in my office declined to go this year that they cancelled it. Noone wants to spend a Saturday afternoon with the evil dictactor, oops I mean our boss.

    Reply
    1. Mishsmom

      a saturday afternoon???!!! yikes what a boss! why would anyone, ever, think it’s ok to have an office party on a saturday??! wow…

      Reply
  9. BCW

    Wow, I never knew people hated these so much. I guess even at some of my worst jobs, I could find the fun in going to a party and getting the chance to let loose and get to know my co-workers in a different situation. Maybe thats just my personality.

    Reply
    1. Scott M

      Company social events are hit-or-miss for me. I don’t have much in common with the people I work with, although they are all nice people. Their politics, religion, interests (TV shows, sporting events, hobbies) are all different than mine. We don’t even have work in common – most of the work I do, I do on my own. My team isn’t so much a group of people I work with, as a group of people I sit near and share a manager with. Again, they are all great people though.

      Having said that, my company’s holiday party is done right. It’s a lunch, at a nearby banquet hall (within walking distance). There are usually door prizes. It’s all paid for and the food is good. If I’m up for it on that day(meaning I have the energy to socialize and make small talk with people I have little in common with) , I’ll go.

      Usually I make it every-other year.

      Reply
        1. Anon

          Wow, that’s a really unfair comment to us introverts. I can assure you that I smile and have plenty of fun; I just do so differently than extroverted types. And I get sick and tired of people implying that I’m doing it wrong because I don’t think it’s fun to be around a lot of people with too much noise and too much alcohol, and often what seems like too little space.

          And, while I like most of my coworkers, 40 hours a week is plenty. During my off time, I’d much rather be with my husband, my non-work friends who I don’t see enough, my family, or a good book.

          If an employer wants to do something nice for me around the holidays, I’d prefer a bonus check or maybe a long lunch at a nice restaurant – during work hours. Or maybe a happy hour thing that’s right after work and close by, so I can swing in for an hour, have one drink and some nibbles, and make a discreet exit.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            But I AM an introvert, and I assure you I am not being really unfair to myself. I’m with you about private life too, seriously, if you are not into dogs at my level, you hold no interest for me. However, smiling is a great facial exercise, the job funds the dog “hobby” (that I spend an average of $35K a year on, not counting the house and car for the dogs), and it is something that must be done. So I do it.

            I will add that I am now in my mid 50s and believe me, this is something that you will get better at with practice. And a lie down afterwards.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I think this is more about some people being frustrated at being told they should enjoy something and that it’s fun, when in fact it’s not enjoyable or fun to them. If the argument is “it’s good for your career,” I think that’s something everyone can respect as an argument (even if they think it’s unfair). But that’s different than “oh, you’ll have fun” because the reality is that no, it’s not fun for everyone, and that’s fine.

              Reply
                1. Long Time Admin

                  Anonymous, this happens all the time here. You just never know when you’re going to accidentally hit someone’s hot button. I’ve been trashed here more times than I can count, and I don’t comment very much any more.

                  Stick around for the articles and the advice (there’s a lot of good stuff here, too), but don’t feel compelled to comment if you don’t want to.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Maybe I’m being completely tone deaf here, so I’d sincerely appreciate an explanation of how my comment was “trashing” Anon. As far as I can tell, I simply gave another point of view.

                  Given that most commentary about the commenters here is about how astoundingly civil they are for the Internet, I’m really surprised by this.

                3. Jamie

                  My interpretation was her initial introvert comment was a joke and then Anon responded by saying it wasn’t fair to introverts. IOW – taking an off-hand humorous comment and responding to it seriously. Your reply was just based on that.

                  I think there is a couple of things everyone should keep in mind:
                  1. Tone gets misinterpreted in emails and forum posts sometimes, we talk about that here a lot. I think it happens far less here than in any other forum in which I’ve ever participated. But there have been times I’ve said something and it was interpreted more seriously than I had intended. Most of the time I can re-read what I wrote and totally get how it could be read differently than I meant it and I’ll clarify. That’s no one’s fault, just a limitation of the written medium, where there can be little misunderstandings that would never happen in person where you have vocal inflection and body language to know when someone is being playful and when they are throwing down a gauntlet.

                  2. Another thing, and I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but something I’ve noticed is that people who post as Anonymous or Anon tend to get a little less slack everywhere (not just this forum) with teasing. A forum is a little virtual community, and people who use the same screenname – well you get to know them a little better in a way because you kind of build a weird virtual relationship. I’m not explaining this right, but for example a take regular posters Rana and Twentymilehike. If she were to say something that could be read as funny or snotty (and she hasn’t – just the first example of screen names that are consistent but anonymous that came to mind) I will always default to funny – because they have reputations which earned them the benefit of the doubt. If someone is helpful, pleasant, and funny in your dealings with them then if something can be read negative or positive you assume positive because that’s their track records.

                  Even myself, I remember one day posting and I was more terse than usual and someone here asked me if I was okay – because I seemed crabby or something. Which was sweet – benefit of the doubt.

                  When you post as Anonymous or Anon you cheat yourself out of part of the community thing because to those reading you blur with the hundred or so other people also posting with the same name.

                  So, while it’s not my place to say anything as it is allowed, I will just suggest that it’s helpful to pick a fictional name and use it consistently.

                  Another thing I’ve noticed here is that people are generally really really forgiving of initial snark. I’ve seen some comments nasty on the surface met with responses which were reasoned and not reactionary that led to very interesting discussions. There are people here far kinder than I, because I when someone comes out of the box nasty my knee jerk reaction is to not engage.

                  And thus ends my thesis on the relationships of AAM posters in a virtual forum.

                4. Jamie

                  Addendum to my thesis:

                  Using a screen name consistently can also lead to an increase in credibility for the serious matters.

                  I cannot tell you how many times fposte has shared a point of view which I hadn’t even considered and because of her track record of really brilliant insights (not a word I toss around lightly) her comments carry a lot more weight with me.

                  I doubt very much people at her workplace call her fposte (and I would have no idea how they pronounce it if they do.

                  Another example is KellyO – I’d kill to work with her and I’ve said it here before that if she were in Chicago I would badger tptb to hire her. I wasn’t just being nice, I totally mean that, and I only know her through here. But I bet I know more about her approach to work and workplace issues than most of the people I sit in meetings with every day for years on end.

                  I guess my point is that reputation can be gained even with a screen name.

              1. Anon

                Exactly. Tell me it’s good for my career, and I can decide how much I care. (I’ll never be management, which is a choice I made long ago, and I’m good with that). But don’t tell me that I “should” be having fun.

                Because you probably wouldn’t like it if I dragged you to my Dungeons and Dragons group and told you that you “should” be having fun, because after all, it’s fun for me. So if you’re not enjoying it, there must be something wrong with you, right?

                Here’s what I will do as an employee: I will show up on time. I will call in sick only when I really need to, and I will try to be considerate about when I schedule my PTO. I will do my work to the best of my ability, without excessive slacking off or socializing. I’ll give you an opinion, politely, when asked, and I’ll be available to my co-workers for consultation/feedback/brainstorming. I will put in at least as many hours as I’m expected to, and more if needed (but not just for “face time”). If I work from home, I will be working.

                But I won’t kiss behinds, and I really prefer not to be dragged into social stuff after work hours. I don’t think that makes me an ogre or “not a team player,” and it really frustrates me that too many people seem to care more about the butt-kissing and the social “stuff” than about the fact that I’m punctual, polite, and do good work.

                Reply
                1. KellyK

                  +1

                  If there was going to be Dungeons & Dragons, I’d be much more interested in the holiday party…

                2. anonymous

                  ^^This x1,000!

                  I don’t go to ours, becuase I don’t like the restaurant we go to, I am a vegan and they don’t have vegan options, and I have a foot out the door, anyway.

                  I always give the holiday party at a new job a chance or two before deciding not to participate. This is the first job at which I have bowed out of all holiday parties.

                  If they would look at other venues and take other people’s food preferences/sensitivities into account, I’d make more of an effort.

      1. Ellie H.

        I’m fairly introverted and I LOVE parties. Love. Any kind of organized social activity makes me really happy because you’re “supposed” to be social there, if that makes sense . . . I really prefer an organized event to nebulous hanging-out type social activities which I consider myself to be much worse at than the more extroverted type is.

        Reply
        1. Lanya

          I’m fairly introverted as well, and I’m also relatively excited for my company party. I’ve learned that the biggest difference between me and extroverts is that while the extroverts get their energy from socializing, I find that it saps my energy. So I’m excited to go, but I will need to spend some alone time afterwards.

          Reply
    2. Kat A

      I love holiday parties, too. I look forward to them, even in offices where the boss (ahem) isn’t a friend of mine, let’s just say.

      Never had to pay for food or drink at a party, though. I wouldn’t like that part.

      Reply
  10. Grinch

    I’m not going simply because I don’t feel welcome to attend anymore. The closer it’s getting to the holiday season it’s been more and more apparent that people here are the least inclusive bunch I’ve ever worked with. I’ve actually been a part of a conversation by HR professionals here that think if you don’t celebrate Christmas you should stop taking advantage of it and come into work (mind you we are closed). It’s also been very vocally said by others this is a CHRISTMAS PARTY, not a Holiday party so deal with it. They have no regards to those that don’t celebrate, me being one of them but they don’t know that. I chose not to celebrate for many personal reasons and this time of year is very hard on me. I’ve only been here just over 6 months, and realize and weighed the implications of not going and what that looks like. In the long run it’s just not worth feeling so isolated, disrespected and anxious over attending a half-assed event.

    Reply
    1. A Bug!

      Your workplace sounds terrible! I’m so sorry you have to deal with people like that. I hope you don’t have to work particularly closely with all these jerks.

      Reply
    2. EngineerGirl

      The other side of the coin here. We are having a “Holiday” party with casino night. The gambling goes against my religious beliefs. If we had a dinner/dance I could go for dinner and then sneak out for the dance part.

      Some people sincerely don’t get that your values may be different than others. They don’t get the impact it has on those that don’t think like them.

      Reply
      1. KellyK

        Ouch. That’s got to be a pain to deal with. Do you go and just socialize, or do you let people know it’s a religious issue for you and pass?

        Reply
        1. EngineerGirl

          The latter. Our company is big on “diversity” so it would be hard to hold it against me. Plus everyone in my chain of command is awesome. They know my beliefs are important to me and don’t push there. So different than one of my older programs!

          Reply
          1. EngineerGirl

            Also- we have a program potluck where I bring several pies from my family’s recipes. So I participate and socialize to some extent that way.

            Reply
  11. AdAgencyChick

    One more reason to go: to watch your non-AAM-reading colleagues make total asses of themselves.

    Seriously, people in advertising love to get smashed and do ridiculous things at company parties. Blackmail-worthy things. Not that I would actually use the information, but it can be quite entertaining to watch.

    Reply
    1. ExceptionToTheRule

      I’d expand that to include people in most media jobs – getting smashed and making an ass of yourself is a right of passage! I work in a part of the media industry that never met free food or alcohol it could turn down.

      Our last few holiday parties were open houses at the boss’s place. Low key, buffet appetizers, beer, wine, cookies and nobody taking attendance. They did ask that you RSVP if you were going so they knew how much food to buy, but that was it. If you didn’t want to go, you didn’t go. If you did, you made chit-chat with the boss’s wife while his adult kids helped the caterer.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      My first job had a big bash every holiday. Fully hosted bar. It was a company of scientists and engineers — you know, the geeky kids you made fun of in high school.

      At the party, several employees got so drunk they threw up in the potted plants…a very senior P.E. saw this, turned to me, and said, “You can get wasted and no one will say a word, but try to light up a cigarette and everyone will ask you to leave.”

      Best place I ever worked.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        The scientists really know how to party. They will party and party HARD. Haha.

        My old job, I went to two of the holiday parties. One year my department was forced (day of) by our boss to go. We showed up in jeans and sneakers and everyone else was in their holiday finery. I ended up cutting out after half an hour. It was embarrassing being underdressed.

        Reply
  12. BW

    I generally enjoy this stuff, but I’m too burnt out this year (not necessarily from work) to want to deal with it. I already have a full weekend before then, and the thought of going 3 weeks without one full day where I can just sit home and catch my breath is really unappealing. If it were held on a weeknight or during work hours, and not a Saturday night, I would probably go. :( I’m an introvert though, and I desperately NEED the down time that I can only get on Saturdays.

    My previous employers’ parties were actually really fun, especially 2 jobs back – where the party was basically all day Friday starting with brunch although the official party did not start until 4 PM. DJ, awesome food, open bar, sometimes an occasional ridiculous “talent” (using that term loosely) show. Family and friends were invited as well. It was voluntary, and you could dress up or not. there was a separate party for kids with Santa. We also had a glass elevator, and kids would ride that all night. It was relaxed and a lot of fun.

    Reply
  13. Blinx

    For the most part, my colleagues and I enjoyed hanging out together and went out to lunch every so often. So the holiday lunches were another opportunity to spend time with people you like. There were also a few senior people that we never had the chance to lunch with and they were also good company. I had the opportunity to eat at some very nice restaurants/inns that I wouldn’t have gone to on my own, because of the expense. Yes, we may have had to travel a distances and make sure our projects were up to date to afford the extra time, but it was only once a year.

    Reply
  14. Ivy

    I like your point about having fun. I find a lot of people (I’m guilty of this too) dread going to these things, when they’re actually not that bad when you get there. The dread of going ends up being worse than the actual event.

    Reply
  15. KellyK

    Yeah, you’re right. I usually go to my company’s Christmas party, but the last couple have been dinner cruises, which means no leaving early. I go to a lot of other company social events, though, so I don’t feel too bad passing on the Christmas party.

    Reply
    1. AdAgencyChick

      Ugh, I friggin’ HATE boat parties for that reason.

      I like being able to have one drink, two tops, with my coworkers, then cut out while the serious drunks have their fun.

      Reply
    2. Jamie

      I wonder if some places do the boat thing on purpose. Precisely because they don’t want people cutting out early.

      Parties on boats – combining two of my least favorite things – I am so glad I’ve never worked at a place who did those.

      Reply
    3. A.B. Normal

      Ours isn’t a cruise, but we get bused into the city, so same problem with leaving early. However, we do get a card with a monetary gift enclosed (this is *not* our bonus), so at least there’s some ROI.

      Reply
      1. hedonia

        Do you work where I work?! We also get bused into the city, and get gift cards there… does “bingo” mean anything to you?

        Reply
  16. Wilton Businessman

    Mandatory fun here. They take names and if you don’t go you get called into your manager’s office on Monday morning for a grilling. I don’t like that part so I prod my people to go.

    Reply
  17. Veronica

    I plan to attend my office party, but I’m wondering if I should bring my boyfriend (3+ years and living together) as my plus 1. I’m in new to the company and in an entry level position. There are only a handful of coworkers my age (most coworkers are 15+ yrs older than me). At the time of the party, I’ll only have been working here for 2 months and I worry that it might be better to go solo. Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Kathryn

      Why don’t you ask someone you work closely with and who’s opinion you trust what people normally do? If people normally bring their SO’s, I wouldn’t think it would be a problem.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I agree it’s not a problem to bring him if others bring SO’s, but there might be an advantage to attending alone — you’ll be more likely to mingle with others and get to know them.

      Reply
      1. Veronica

        That’s what I’m thinking. I think it could be awkward trying to introduce him to people I don’t yet have much of a connection with and it might be easier to connect with coworkers without him. Thanks!

        Reply
    3. Jamie

      If my husband suggested bringing me to his work party he’d be sleeping on the couch.

      Do him a favor and make sure he knows it’s okay if he says no – if he doesn’t really want to go. As bad as our own work parties can be, other people’s are always worse. You get so bored when you don’t understand the gossip or snark.

      Reply
      1. KellyK

        Hm…sounds like my husband owes me for the fact that I’m going to his work party this year. His dad also works there, so I’ll at least know *3* people (him and his parents). Fortunately, his company throws a pretty good party.

        *And* it’s his birthday. I may threaten to get people to sing. Only threaten, and not at the party where anyone might hear. I’m pretty sure he would die of embarrassment and the couch would be too good for me for a long time afterwards.

        Reply
  18. MaryTerry

    Our holiday party is always in January. I generally go to these, because I try to take advantage of any freebies my employer offers. Plus, when the kids were little, it was a free (except for the babysitter) ADULTS ONLY night out with door prizes .

    That said – I rarely have trouble socializing. I’m probably the person people run away from because I won’t stop talking. And that’s without drinking.

    Reply
  19. Not So NewReader

    I have gotten to the party and found that no one else wanted to be there, either. Sometimes I ended up feeling worse for other people than I do for myself! I have had a holiday or two where I had a stomach ache so fierce I did not go to the party. So I have kind of run the spectrum of responses on the office party question.

    I think that it helps me to realize that some people are just looking for some one to chat with, just like me.

    I tend to agree with other people who say they would prefer a slightly larger bonus and NO party. In my ideal world, the company would just offer snacks and refreshments during the work day. People could stop at any point and get a bite to eat and a beverage. And everyone goes home on time.

    Paige (waaay up near the top) offered some ice breaker questions. This is a great idea to have some general questions prepared ahead of time and to allow others to ask us questions, too.

    Reply
  20. Elizabeth West

    I like office potlucks, because it’s a break in the day and I don’t have to go anywhere after hours with people I don’t want to hang out with. My old job did these and also had a dinner at a local restaurant. In the last couple of years, half the people who went to the after hours dinner stopped going.

    Reply
    1. The Other Dawn

      I used to love our potlucks. It was great having all those leftovers for lunch all week.

      Every year, one guy would make the most delicious crab cakes. The kind where there are barely enough breadcrumbs to hold all the huge hunks of crab together. It got to the point where we would put his name on the list for crab cakes without asking him.

      Reply
      1. Girasol

        Potlucks are the best part about working in a culturally diverse workplace. I used to go to office potlucks with homemade sushi, tamales, bulkogi, curry…yum! Catering couldn’t match it for any price. I’ll second potlucks as my favorite office party. They’re so comfortably informal and don’t disrupt family life.

        Reply
        1. BW

          I like getting the food at potlucks, but potluck alos means I need to contribute food, and I *hate* that part, especially where everyone else is bringing delicious homemade things. I both suck at and hate cooking, and I feel really stupid not being able to contribute something other than some store bought crap. Potlucks are not my favorite.

          Reply
          1. Anon

            If it makes you feel better, I do cook well and enjoy it. And I don’t judge people who bring store-bought stuff; in my opinion, just bring more than one small bag of off-brand chips, and you’re good. My challenge is that I take mass transit to work, and have a 3-block walk to get to my stop. So I have to bring something I can readily carry that far along with all my normal work stuff.

            I don’t know where you are, but in my area, a lot of grocery stores offer things like trays of cheese, fruit, slices meats, veggies and dip, that kind of thing. Those can be great choices for a potluck if you’re not a cook. Or bring beverages; lots of people don’t think of that and it’s often appreciated.

            Reply
  21. Jesicka309

    In previous years I’ve had a friend at the party to do the social rounds with.
    This year the social situation has deteriorated to the point where I only speak to my team leader and supervisors. In fact I an certain I will turn around at one point and find most of the department has gone to the casino (sneaked off so I can’t come, they did it last year!)
    Any tips for doing the rounds solo? I enjoy the parties and always do some great networking with other departments… It’s just a bit daunting on your own.

    Reply
  22. The Other Dawn

    3. You can raise your visibility with audiences that matter to your career.

    This is probably the biggest one. Making connections with the higher-ups in a social situation is invaluable. If the subject comes up, it’s a great time to mention that you’ve always been interested in doing X at the company or that you really love Y. You never know, there might be an opening in X or Y department next year and the people you connected with at the party may call you because they remembered what you said that night. That’s what happened to me. It pays to rub elbows with the execs and drop a few hints.

    Reply
  23. The Other Dawn

    We are a very small company with less than 15 employees. We used to do a holiday potluck at our office, which we always loved. The branch office would usually do something on their own. Then we would do a company party in January, because our company anniversary is around that time. In the earlier years we had 30+ employees so it was bigger and I wasn’t a “higher-up” yet. It was OK, but it was usually uncomfortable having to mingle with the senior managers and their spouses.

    The last couple years we have skipped the potluck and company party. Now we all go to a really nice steakhouse for dinner, just the employees, no spouses, right before Christmas. It’s nice because we’re a small group. There are no forced games, we’ve all worked with each other for awhile (some of us for years), and we can eat and drink as much as we want.

    Reply
  24. Ryan

    Please don’t be telling people to schmooze the IT guy in hopes of getting free tech support for home…we’re busy fixing our families computers already and we’re not looking to take on any extra work. That’s like expecting a podiatrist to be keen on inspecting your hammertoe just because you laughed at his stupid jokes during the Hospital’s Christmas party.

    Maybe it’s just me…but I hate that. I prefer to leave the vague and misleading answers to my troubleshooting questions in the office where I’m paid to tolerate them.

    Reply
    1. Jamie

      Ha!! You tell her, Ryan! :)

      I have have a family thing this month and I was told that an in-law of a relative will be there and is SO excited to meet me…because he’s having trouble with his router.

      Yeah – we’ll see how excited he is after he actually meets me. :)

      Reply
    2. The Other Dawn

      YUCK! I hate that also. I’m not a real IT person, I just play one at my job. People outside of work are ALWAYS asking me computer questions and it annoys the crap out of me. Some things I don’t mind, like how to change the screen saver and stuff like that, but when they start asking “why does this happen?” I just want to yell, “I don’t effing know! Because the sky is blue!”

      Reply
      1. Jamie

        If you didn’t write it yourself – just tell them the source code was monkey patched. If that ask what monkey patching means look at them like they are small children, smile, and explain that it’s the same as duck punching.

        It works for everything and monkey patching and duck punching are fun to say!

        Or if it’s local just act all excited to talk about overclocking and the problems with bottlenecking and you’re SO happy someone wants to talk about the difference between Firepro and Nvidia cards…

        But I may just steal ‘because the sky is blue’ – because if someone asks me once more for an explanation for this problem I’m working on (which is affecting all users – FUN!) and then walks away mid-sentence because they got bored listening to me I’m going to cry.

        If you don’t care just know that I’m working on it (and I am – watching the queue with one screen and running diagnostics on the other and anxiously typing this while waiting for results.)

        Reply
        1. The Other Dawn

          Monkey patching and duck punching is pretty much a tongue twister for me. I was trying to read this to my husband and completely effed it up. LOL Yes, I might just have to try this.

          Sometimes I’ll just say, deadpan, “It’s a computer” and walk away. Or better yet, “Send me to school for IT training and then I’ll give you a real answer.”

          Reply
      2. KellyK

        “Because of [expletive] Microsoft” is a good all-purpose answer. Technically true much of the time. (And if it’s not a Microsoft product they’re having issues with, hey, blaming Microsoft is still fun.)

        Reply
      3. Ryan

        “I believe the problem here may exist between the chair and the keyboard.”

        usually takes them a moment but it’s worth a chuckle.

        Reply
        1. Jamie

          I have a PEBKAC coffee cup and my sweetest co-worker asked what it meant and when I told her she looked concerned and told me I do a great job and I shouldn’t think that way about myself.

          It was soooo hard not to laugh as I told her I didn’t mean the problem was between my keyboard and chair!

          Reply
            1. Jamie

              My other favorite IT mug is “There’s no place like 127.0.0.1″

              I use it when I desperately want to go home, but don’t want to appear overwhelmed and disgruntled to anyone who doesn’t know the local machine loop for “home.”

              Reply
  25. Mary

    My holiday party is on a Saturday, and 1 hour drive away from where I live. To add to that, me and my SO have the annual family party/dinner that same day. I know many folks don’t like family parties, but I love my in-laws. I didn’t go last year because of personal reasons, and now this year I can’t go because of this. I know my manager will be annoyed, and I don’t know when to tell her. It’s on a Saturday and “not mandatory”. Ugh.

    Reply
    1. Jamie

      Wow – I think ts extra rude of your company to have it on a Saturday in December. So many people have weekends fully booked this month with family get togethers, that’s a huge imposition.

      Seriously, employers, listen up. If you want to do something a nice catered lunch during the workday is a lovely gesture. Leave it at that.

      Reply
  26. Vicki

    In 25+ years, over multiple managers, teams, and companies, I have attended exactly two company holiday parties. One was for a company I worked for; the other was a company my Spouse was working for.

    The former was cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and very boring. I saw a few people I knew. We left early. Given the venue, number of people, noise, confusion, and low lighting, I dough if my manager knew whether I showed or not.

    Spouse’s party included dinner. We went, ate, chatted with people at the table, and left before the “party” part got underway.

    My job has never hinged on whether I attended a party. As an Introvert, I have no interest in parties unless I know most of the people and there are fewer than 30 people in the room.

    Consider your company culture (and your own self confidence levels) before you decide whether or not to go.

    Reply
  27. Tax Nerd

    I’m not a particular fan of holiday parties, but I learned long ago that people who don’t go (for any reason) tend to get the evil eye from the boss the next working day, and that skipping it is a bad career move in my field.

    I’ve organized a large event, and have an idea of what they cost, so the dream of not having it and splitting out the costs as a cash payment is rarely going to happen. Whether the cost per head is $20 or $200, the powers that be are not going to see that amount of cash as something you’d prefer to a social event. (Even if you would prefer it.) That amount of money doesn’t mean much at their level, and they think of social events as networking opportunities, and they think that you should, too.

    When I worked for the giant accounting firms, I’d snark with either my date or a work buddy about other attendees. A usual point of speculation (at least in Chicago) was that only female dates of employees wore skimpy minidresses, while actual employees tended to be a bit more demure. Relatedly, it was usually the dates of employees who took serious advantage of the open bar and made fools of themselves. The actual employees knew that their dress and behavior would be remembered.

    Having to babysit dates so that they had a semi-good time and I wouldn’t have to atone for their behavior later was one of the hardest parts of holiday parties. I went solo if I wasn’t seeing anyone seriously, but if I was seeing someone to the point that work knew about them, I knew that I was expected to bring them. It was so much easier when the holiday party was at a museum or aquarium, and there was stuff to go see, rather than having to mingle/nibble/chitchat idly.

    I’d prefer to stay home, personally, but I know that from a career perspective, I need to go.

    Reply
  28. ooloncoluphid

    In my early years here I attended the Christmas Party every year because the food was freaking awesome. Now it’s just hors d’oeuvres, but they’ve switched to a more expensive and formal venue. It’s not my thing.

    Reply
  29. Anonymous

    No I didn’t go to the Christmas party where I was not asked about when would be a good time to have it, while everyone else was, and also I was not told about it until 2 weeks after everyone else was told, because verbally telling everyone is “easier” than email. I also didn’t want to hear my passive-aggressive drama queen co-worker has to tell everyone about how she set everything and decorated, which took so long to do. All this for a f**king potluck lunch. No thanks.

    Reply
  30. Girasol

    I know that going to office party is a career must, like it or not, but how do you deal with a spouse? We have parties like the one Vicki mentions: bar and hors d’oeuvres, traditional mingling in a very large group so it’s an introduction and one sentence of small talk and then move on to chat with someone else, with music too loud to hear anything anyway. I’m uncomfortable even though I know some of the people and my spouse is more uncomfortable. My coworkers and spouse have no reason to want to meet each other, since we have an “it’s just business” culture in the office. We’re not a “just like family” bunch. But it’s frowned upon to come alone. Is there a right answer?

    Reply
    1. jesicka309

      This is the (albeit true) answer my boyfriend has given his clinic.
      “My girlfriend has her company Christmas party on tonight, so she couldn’t make it. There are only so many Fridays in December!”
      Would work just as well for a pretend excuse.
      Mind you, I’m bummed because it was only a small gathering, and I’d love to meet the 5 or so people he works with. But I’m not missing my huge, all expenses bash my company is putting on, which is no spouses anyway…
      They can’t get annoyed that your wife is ‘fufilling her own work obligations.”

      Reply
    2. Heather

      I like jesicka’s answer. Besides, what if you don’t have a spouse or significant other? It’s none of their business whether you’re there alone or not. Ugh!

      I’m so glad both my company & my husband’s just do lunches where spouses aren’t invited. I’d probably end up telling his boss exactly what I think of her management skills ;)

      Reply
      1. Jamie

        This is a really good point – and I feel kind of crappy for saying this, but it’s nothing I wouldn’t say to my husband if it came up: A party with spouses would make me really nervous.

        My husband is a wonderful guy – I truly adore him – but he’s as extroverted as it’s possible to be if you’re not Ricky Gervais. He can and will talk to anyone about anything and is so friendly and engaging, but sometimes the filter of what should and shouldn’t be discussed about how I feel about things is broken.

        I would be a wreck all night worried that he’s give out more info about my opinions of work stuff than I would be comfortable with…because the amount for which I’d be comfy would be zero.

        He spent twenty minutes in the grocery store the other day chatting with the gentleman who stocks the shelves about how the store was cutting hours, my husband inquired about his wife’s health as she recently had her gallbladder removed, and the details of the changes in the stores insurance plan and how that would impact his take home pay.

        Clearly not the first time they’ve spoken – but holy crap – I’ve been in that store 1000x and I couldn’t recognize anyone who works there on sight, much less know their names.

        Chatty people who know me too well do not need to spend time with my bosses and co-workers. Just saying.

        Reply
  31. Maddy

    I agree with those who say they’d prefer a bonus.. I am so dreading it! I guess I wouldn’t mind it so much if it was during work hours. I really don’t want to spend eight hours at work and another 2-3 hours at a party and then have to get up to go to work early the next day. My party is on a Wednesday night. How fun! Oh, I also wouldn’t mind if it was one of those sit down dinners… it would be better than just finger food and alcohol…

    Reply
  32. FT

    I’ll probably go to mine this year. I’ve attended 2 (out of 7) with this company so far. My first year my boss’s boss specifically came up to me and told me in no uncertain terms that I would be attending. I was planning to anyhow, even I wasn’t going to skip the holiday party four months into a new job! So I guess I just look like a misanthrope.

    This year it’s during work hours, but we’re expected to work the missed hours later during the week. The email strongly hints at “mandatory”, which is causing everyone to bitch about having to go. So, basically our parties are a bunch of people who don’t want to go to party feeling like they “should” go. It’s as fun as it sounds. Here’s hoping there won’t be any power point presentations (0 for 2 on that one so far)… The upside is that in a sea of misanthropes being another misanthrope here doesn’t seem to hurt your career much. . . .

    Reply
  33. MI Secretary

    How about this one? Ours is at a nearby restaurant during work hours; attendance is “voluntary,” but one year, someone didn’t show up (it was a part time employee and the party was on their day off), and the boss had me void his bonus check!

    On the other hand, employees ARE paid for the time they spend at the party (provided they were scheduled to work that day.)

    Pro: The bosses purchase personal gifts for each employee. Con: Some would rather have the money.

    Also, #3 in the company solicits donations for a group gift for the bosses, usually something like a night at at VERY exclusive hotel in the city, but we are told how much we have to give, when we have to give it by, but if you don’t give, your name doesn’t “come off the list of givers,” but still…#3 knows who gave and who didn’t and is best friends with #1 (the CEO)…and I know for a fact that they discuss this!

    Reply
  34. Joey

    I just discussed the very subject with my management team. We concluded that not attending occassionally was okay, but if you’re known for not attending optional stuff you’re going to be at a slight disadvantage if you want to advance. We want to promote people who support what we do. If you never go that’s a clear sign that you don’t and won’t pitch in on these kinds of things without an arm twisting. If you’re a manager and you don’t attend these things its worse. We worry about the perception your employees have of you and whether or not you’re promoting camraderie outside of your specific team.

    Reply
    1. AnonEMoose

      How does “prefers not to go to purely social functions outside of work hours” translate to “doesn’t support what we do”? That’s one particular bit of manglement mindset I’ve never been able to decipher.

      Because as far as I’m concerned, I support what my employer does by showing up and doing my job well during working hours. My off hours should be just that…MINE.

      Reply
      1. Joey

        It’s interpreted as “prefers not to let their hair down and get to know co workers on a personal level.” I’m sure you can understand how getting to meet and chit chat with Jane in accounting, whom you’ve only talked to over the phone, can strengthen your working relationship? Or how getting a bit of face time with your bosses boss can strengthen your professional reputation?

        Reply
        1. AnonEMoose

          If I want to meet and chitchat with Jane…and I very will might…I can invite her for coffee or to lunch. During working hours on our breaks or lunchtime. Or at a time that works for both of us. Forced socialization is just that…forced. Or what’s wrong with a potluck during working hours if chitchat is so important? It’s not that I object to all socialization in the workplace, I just think it’s more considerate of an employer to keep it during business hours if it’s a priority, rather than trying to claim time that doesn’t belong to the employer.

          For the most part, I prefer to keep work relationships superficial…friendly, but not friends, if you follow me. Because there are things about my personal life that I prefer to keep personal. Nothing illegal, I hasten to add; just things that people can get judgy about…and it’s not always easy to keep away from those topics as you might think. And that’s pretty counter to your stated aim, don’t you think?

          Besides that, I do think it’s kind of unfair not only to those like me who want to keep boundaries between our personal and professional lives, but to those whose life situations make it difficult or impossible to attend. The single parent who has to pick up kids from daycare or who can’t afford a babysitter to attend an off-hours event. The person with elderly parents to care for, or who has volunteer commitments, or any of the million other things people may be doing with time that, after all, belongs to them.

          Reply
          1. Jamie

            For the most part, I prefer to keep work relationships superficial…friendly, but not friends, if you follow me.

            I don’t know if you’re currently in management, but if not this approach (for whatever your reasons) will help you get there.

            I’ve seen issues with promoting people because they are too close, too friendly off hours, with people who would be their subordinates. They can be reluctant to promote people if there are questions of whether or not they can manage people properly if they are also personally friends.

            I’m friendly (am too!) at work, and have some work relationships that are closer than others just because of mutual conversational interests – but nothing that would get in the way of doing my job properly and nothing where I’d ever be tormented by the dilemma of doing my job or protecting a friend. No question – job wins every time. Because it’s not too personal.

            Really good approach, imo.

            Reply
            1. AnonEMoose

              Thank you – I appreciate the compliment! I’m not in management and I don’t think I want to be. It’s just important to me to have boundaries between my personal life and my professional one, and I wish more people (especially managers) seemed to feel the same way.

              Reply
              1. Girasol

                I always imagine that managers do feel the same way. A good manager is friendly and caring about employees but not buddy-buddy, especially not with just a few special favorites. Most of the ones I see at Christmas parties are, perhaps for that reason, almost painfully polite and correct. It doesn’t look easy or fun. I imagine their managers said “You WILL attend.” So if they’re uncomfortable and their subordinates are uncomfortable, whose idea was it?

                Reply
        2. -X-

          Joey – you’re using circular reasoning to support bogus management practice.

          If you’re having problems developing close working relationships between members of your staff, a party might be a way to do it. But how about actually providing opportunities for staff would should know each other better to actually, you know, work together. Encourage cross-department teams to deal with major issues. Encourage department show-and-tells where they talk to other people about what they do. Build connections into regular work processes.

          Or work on your office layout if possible so people meet each other naturally.

          Reply
          1. Jamie

            I know Joey is correct in that there is often political damage from not attending – but I agree with X that working relationships should develop at work.

            And maybe it is because I hate those things, but I can’t see how it would be easier to develop a relationship with someone at a party than it would actually working with them on a project, getting a cup of coffee, or chit chat waiting for a meeting to start.

            If I can’t develop relationships at work, I don’t know how a band-aid of a party once or twice a year could heal that?

            Reply
            1. Joey

              From my experiences its because there is not enough time in the workday to shoot the breeze- too much stuff has to get done so there is little time and too many distractions. Ever tried to get undivided attention from someone influential for more than a few minutes to just talk? Good luck.

              Reply
              1. -X-

                But if you are a member of your management team, then it’s your responsibility to make time/space for that, not penalize staff for not going parties.

                Reply
              2. Jamie

                If the point you’re making is that it looks good to put in an appearance because it’s a social convention for those of a certain rank at work – I agree with that.

                I think where you’re losing me is where you seem to infer that this helps build meaningful relationships. To reference something from your comment below, if upper level management doesn’t have time to mingle with hundreds or thousands of employees during the course of the work year – then they certainly can’t do it with limited time at a party.

                And yes – when I was starting out I found it a lot easier to get undivided attention from the much higher ups in the course of work than at the party.

                I do understand what you’re saying if it’s that it’s a superficial excercise on which you’ll be judged if you opt out – that’s totally true. But if the argument that substantial relationship building comes out of that – we’ll just have to agree to disagree…but I think that’s where I (and some others) are having a problem.

                Reply
                1. Joey

                  It’s both actually. I’m not saying everyone builds meaningful relationships at company parties, but I have seen plenty of people do things like talk about a common hobby or kids then end up being a golf buddy with their boss or meeting up for a toddler play date. Or more frequently getting to know a sr. manager on a more personal level and breaking down perceptions. My point is you may miss out unless you go to some of these things.

        3. -X-

          So Joey, if someone consistently misses the party and their work suffers because they don’t develop stronger bonds with other employees, you penalize them for missing the parties? Not for not doing such good work?

          That is, you penalize them for your surrogate measure, and not the outcome?

          Or are you nice and fair and penalize them for both? W T F?

          Reply
          1. Joey

            C’mon. It’s not about relying on a party to be THE solution. Job performance still rules and always will but attending social stuff gets progressively more important if you want to advance into management for the reasons I outlined at 1:34. And it’s not that you get penalized its that someone else got extra credit. I know effectively its a penalty, but that’s like calling the glass half empty.

            Reply
            1. -X-

              You wrote: “If you never go that’s a clear sign that you don’t and won’t pitch in on these kinds of things without an arm twisting.”

              That sure sounds like judging people on party attendance itself, not on the eventual outcome (if any) of not building up good rapport with others.

              Reply
              1. AnonEMoose

                And, really, it’s a party. If you’re not on the planning committee, what is there to “pitch in” on, exactly?

                Reply
      2. Joey

        People tend to want to go above and beyond when they like the people they work with. I don’t mean just get along with them (thats the bare minimum), I mean like them like you like friends that you hang out with. If you’ve ever had a great boss or co workers you know what I mean. You find yourself giving and getting work favors. The kind of favors that help you get out of a jam and help you professionally. That may be getting payroll to cut a check within a few minutes when it normally takes them days. Or giving that customer special attention because you want your bosses boss to look good. Now you may say you can like people just fine from 8-5 and that’s possible, but people tend to perform at a higher level and more efficiently when the work relationships are more personal. All the social stuff is the catalyst/opportunity to enhance those relationships.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          For the sake of argument, if you saw someone demonstrating all those qualifies and engaging in those behaviors but they didn’t attend most non-work-hours social events, would you still penalize them? I’m assuming you wouldn’t and that in fact that in fact the attending parties issue is more of a shorthand for the other stuff?

          Reply
          1. Joey

            Depends on the position, but the higher the position the more it matters. I can’t imagine being okay with a higher level manager who can’t or won’t attend social stuff even if she’s great in other areas Some people don’t like it and that’s fine but some people do. And managers not going creates morale problems with those tht do. The perception is often that they don’t care or are too important to mingle with front line employees. Especially higher level managers who often don’t get much interaction with them. It would be great to do it during business hours and you do it when possible, but some industries/professions just can’t shut down during normal operating hours. So if you’re not willing to/cant go to these things at least sometimes that’s a message to me that you don’t aspire or arent in a position to progress real far. The higher you go generally the more work takes over your life. I wish it weren’t that way but that’s reality. You know ironically I would rather be somewhere else, but I go (and make the best of it) because it affects people’s perceptions of me, both my bosses and the folks below me. It’s similar to a boss inviting you to her birthday party. Maybe not the first place Id rather be but i want my boss to know the opportunity to enhance my reputation and relationship is important to me.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I think that distinction is reasonable. And indeed, looking at my own behavior, when I was the #2 in an organization, I would go to holiday parties, etc. unless I was out of town. (I wouldn’t always stay for the whole thing, but I certainly showed up.) And I did feel that was an obligation, when you’re fairly high up. On the other hand, if the department heads who I oversaw didn’t attend, I wouldn’t really have cared.

              Reply
              1. Joey

                And that’s all that’s expected- show up. You don’t have to close it down. That just shows you’re trying to make it a better experience for the folks who work with you who like this stuff.

                Reply
            2. AnonEMoose

              I do think it’s different for managers…a big chunk of the reason I have no desire to be one. Another one is that I am very clear that I have a life outside the office; one that is very important to me. I won’t give it up on a long-term basis (occasional, short-term overtime is different).

              Really, what would I get in exchange besides more money (which, admittedly, would be nice)? But the trade-off isn’t worth it to me. I don’t need the ramped-up politics, the drama, the headaches, the long hours, etc., etc… And I’d just as soon not compete for “face time” with the higher ups.

              I like my job; don’t misunderstand me. But it’s not the central focus of my life. And I don’t want it to be.

              I just wish that more managers remembered the realities of being one of us worker bees. And that not all of us aspire to the corner office, even if we do have brains and ability.

              It’s reflective of different values, but is not, to me, a character flaw; some people seem to think it is. I think it’s kind of like the old saying about remembering that if you join the rat race, even if you win, you’re still a rat.

              Reply
            3. -X-

              How about mingling with front line employees as work? Actually talking to them (or a representative sample) to get their input on what the company is doing or could be doing. Encouraging them to give frank feedback and info. Listening to what they say they need. Getting know for having a relatively open door, or at least really valuing feedback and sharing information.

              Build more interaction into work.

              Reply
              1. Joey

                That’s pretty impossible for most high level managers to mingle with a staff of dozens, hundreds or thousands in frequently multiple locations on different shifts. But yes getting their feedback is essential.

                Reply
                1. -X-

                  I find it bizarre your mentioning how people will be judged for not making time to attend a party and yet it’s impossible to figure out a structure for high level managers to mingle in a work-related way with some front-line employees.

                  Figure out a way to mingle with a representative sample, perhaps an hour a quarter with a different group every time, document it, share it on the intranet so everyone sees the high-level people are listening. Bang – better engagement than expecting everyone to be at a party so they were in the same room as the CEO.

        2. AnonEMoose

          Not going to happen…because I will never trust coworkers like I trust friends I hang out with. It’s just not the same relationship, and I wish more managers remembered that. I think it’s a big mistake to try to make coworkers into personal friends, and an even bigger one for management to expect it or try to force it.

          That doesn’t mean that I will never do a coworker in a jam a favor. Of course I will, if only because I may need the same someday, and I firmly believe what goes around comes around. And sometimes because it’s the right thing to do for the customer/client. Or just because it’s Tuesday. Or because they’ve done the same thing for me another time.

          It doesn’t have to be based on personal liking of the coworker. And in my job, sometimes I can’t do what’s asked, no matter how much I like the coworker, and that makes things even more awkward, if you ask me. Because then they think it’s a personal thing, and really it’s just an instance of “rules I must stick to” vs “rules I can bend if need be” or even “rules beyond my control.”

          Reply
          1. Jamie

            I can honestly say I don’t do work favors based on how much I like someone. Otherwise my work friends would get all the best computers rather than the ones who need them based on programs run.

            Work friends will get personal advice from me on their home tech issues. I’ll help them spec out purchases in a way I wouldn’t for someone I didn’t care for – but that’s outside of work.

            I’m not saying I’m not happier to help some people than others – because quite frankly some people are more fun to spend work time with than others…but that doesn’t factor into how much help they get.

            Reply
        3. Anon

          There are a lot of things I share with my girl friends (I’m female) that I don’t think you’d want me to share with my coworkers.

          I agree about keeping them superficial, aside from one or two coworkers you really click with. Otherwise, that gets into really personal territory-religion, politics, sex, fertility issues, alternative lifestyles……..Not all of us feel comfortable getting that intimate with coworkers. I don’t think a high performing employee should be punished for not wanting to be besties with coworkers. Being able to mingle, hobnob, and chat with colleagues and externals is different from forced socialization on a “friends’ level”. That’s cliquey.

          Reply
          1. AnonEMoose

            Agreed. I don’t want to get that intimate with coworkers, in general, because there are some things in my life that people can get judgy about. I’m not Christian, for example. I’m also childfree.

            Many of my current coworkers do know that I help run a largish local science fiction convention. They seem to accept it an eccentricity, which is fine with me.

            Reply
          2. Joey

            You’re missing it. You don’t dive in and talk about polarizing stuff. But the reality is that people hire and promote people they like. Now BFF status alone won’t get you far, but two high performers and ones a BFF. Guess who gets the job? Is that fair? I dont know but that’s the game most of us live in.

            Reply
        4. Laura L

          Sure, but you can host all the company sponsored social events you want, but if I don’t like my coworkers enough to become friends with them, I’m not going to become friends with them.

          And, frankly, if I already dislike them at work, it’s unlikely I’ll like them more in a social environment.

          Reply
  35. Anon

    I understand the camaraderie outside the team-however, could that not happen at another point of the year? The holidays are a stressful time, especially in a society where many people live away from families and may feel the pinch in both their budgets and their time. If a person cheerfully participates in other events that the company does, goes the extra mile in every other area of their professional lives, and constantly reaches out to colleagues and externals, it seems really petty to penalize them for not going to a holiday party. That’s like a second grade girl downgrading her best friend for not coming to her birthday party.

    Reply
    1. Jamie

      There is a lot of wisdom in what you said. I personally would love it if they would move this kind of thing to another time of year.

      Not only the family obligations, but for many of us it’s one of the busiest work times as well. Those of us who are heavily involved in year end close and other end of year things have a really hard time getting festive at work when this is the month of 60-75 hour weeks anyway.

      Fortunately my employer gets this and it’s a lovely catered lunch during work hours with some end of year presentations and a fun raffle. But they know that the week before shutdown is my busiest time of the year so they’ve never had a problem with my skipping the lunch and being there for the presentations and raffle then cutting back out.

      Reply
    2. Joey

      It does happen at other times of the year. If you attend other optional stuff and travel every Xmas to see you family that’s cool. I’m talkin about your reputation as a whole related to these kinds of events. It’s like inviting you BFF to multiple events and she rarely or never comes. At some point you wonder if she really should be your BFF.

      Reply
    3. Anonymous

      When declining to attend the holiday party at my organization, I say in email something like:”Thanks for organizing this. Unfortunately I can’t make it. This is a busy time of year at home for me.”

      I’ve used that several years in a row to not go to the event where I work.

      And one time when there was discussion of the date of our event in a staff meeting I suggested holding it in January when many people are less busy.

      Reply
  36. books

    Ugh, I am bailing on my husband’s work party tonight for a 100% legitimate reason (I’m sick). But I didn’t really want to go anyway.
    I will say, it can’t be worse than the holiday party at his last job, where they did a raffle/gift draw and the gifts all seemed like gag gifts (I believe there was a bottle of dish soap given away). Everyone thought that maybe the last one would be a real thing – buuuuuut it turns out it was a chicken hat, and they started a conga line to the chicken dance.

    Reply
  37. Chocolate Teapot

    It was my office do last night. Unfortunately it clashed with a concert I really wanted to see, so I declined the dinner and just attended the aperitif.

    It sounded like it was a good party, but I wouldn’t have missed my concert for anything.

    Reply
  38. Editor

    When my late husband was in the hospital, I ended up going to his building, pushing a button by a doorway and talking to a disembodied voice, explaining who I was and who I needed to talk to. Having to tell two strangers that my husband’s health was of grave concern and he was now too sick to call in was difficult.

    At that moment, I really wished there had been an occasional get-together where I could at least have been introduced to his supervisors and co-workers under different circumstances. In all his previous jobs, I’d met such people at department or company events — holiday parties, annual family wellness days, department volleyball or bowling leagues, or summer picnics.

    I’m not in favor of elaborate holiday parties, mandatory parties, dinners with the boss, or frequent social events that require family members to support the employee. My experience was unusual and I don’t wish it on anyone. But after my experience — or a larger, horrible one such as 9/11 — I wonder: Is it better to have kept work parties and home life strictly separate, or is there an advantage to having had some human contact between the household and the co-workers when you’re the bearer of bad tidings?

    Reply
    1. AnonEMoose

      I think it’s absolutely fine to have the party or another type of gathering if the powers that be at a company want to do so. I just think that it shouldn’t be mandatory – especially “unofficially mandatory.” In other words, if an employee chooses not to attend, or isn’t able to, he or she should not be penalized for it.

      There can be many reasons someone would choose not to attend such a thing that have nothing to do with his/her dedication to the job or desire to advance. And I think that management should realize that and not make assumptions (honestly, it makes me think of the Bowling for Soup song “High School Never Ends” – pretty sure it’s on YouTube).

      Reply
      1. Jamie

        +1 million for the Bowling for Soup reference!

        Sometimes after a bad day at work I play “Here’s Your Freaking Song” REALLY loud while driving home – signing words slightly altered depending on who I’m mad at at the moment.

        Reply
        1. AnonEMoose

          LOL! Probably dating myself here, but I’m also particularly fond of “1985.”

          And after bad days at work, I’m also fond of Alice Cooper’s “Hey Stoopid.”

          Reply
  39. Anon

    We just got our company Christmas party this past week end both me & my boyfriend, we went to mine first and I had a bit too much to drink, my boyfriend doesn’t drink and he was the driver, so after my Christmas party was dying down around 10pm, we headed over to his company party, he works at a hospital so there I was, drunk & dancing with the doctor he works with, when I fell down on my ass. He yanked me out of there & took me home. He told me what happened the next day, cause I blacked out. He told me he had never felt humiliated like that and was contemplating on canceling furthr Christmas get togethers. Whatever you do at these parties, especially when its a company party, don’t drink too much & be on your best behavior…

    Reply
  40. Kat A

    My previous employer held the party during work hours at 1 of their central locations. It wasn’t mandatory, but those there were entered in a raffle to win paid days off. There were several winners.
    Best. Raffle. Ever.
    And it encouraged people to go.

    Reply

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