Modern Etiquette: How to survive the office party

Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:49am EST
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Jo Bryant is the London-based etiquette advisor for Debrett's, the UK's modern authority on all matters of manners and behavior. The opinions expressed are her own. Debrett's website is

By Jo Bryant

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The Mad Men-esque days of over-the-top office parties where co-workers got roaring drunk, and ended up wearing lampshades are out of style.

Fortunately for everyone, the office party has matured, by and large, into a more relaxed event where workers can actually socialize and enjoy the holidays without thinking about deadlines, or getting hit on by Bob from marketing.

Plan early.

If you're in charge of scheduling the office party, start planning as soon as possible. Send invitations or let employees know the date, time and location at least one month in advance so they can plan accordingly. Also be sure to let co-workers know if the invitation includes spouses and significant others or even children.


Make sure they feel included and comfortable. Let them know what to wear, and give them a heads up on the names of bosses and colleagues who are likely to be there. At the party, don't ditch them. Make sure you introduce them to your important workplace family. If there is a seated dinner, this is one event when couples are seated together.

Gift exchanges.   Continued...

<p>Revellers dance at an office Christmas party in London December 13, 2007. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly</p>