Some etiquette tips for your office party

Office parties and get-togethers are an important feature of corporate life where employees get to strengthen bonds and enhance general bonhomie.

It is intended as a team-building exercise and an incentive by management to boost employee moral.

Fancy foods and drinks are served, and sometimes one may even have entertainment, DJ music, and dancing as well.

Any glass that has a stem should be held by the stem and not the cup.

More often than not, a lot of bloopers are also made by the employees at such social events like extending an ice-cold, wet hand to shake, trying to juggle a drink and a snack plate all at once, or saying inappropriate things.

Let me share some office party panache tips with you so that you can not only enjoy the party but also come across as a charismatic professional.


RSVP is an abbreviation of the French phrase “Repondez s’il vous plait.” Translated, it simply means “Reply, please”. It is polite to respond to the invitation as quickly as possible. And if you respond that you’re coming, please show up.


Panache starts well before you arrive at any function. Seasoned party goers understand why they’re attending an event and plan their wardrobe and frame of mind accordingly.

Partying should be for fun, not a duty! Do whatever mental gymnastics it takes to put yourself in a good mood. Dress well, smile, mingle, and converse a lot. Don’t just sit in a corner and sulk.


The purpose of attending an office party should not be free food or unlimited booze. Such occasions are more about meeting people and getting into conversations rather than about appeasing your appetite.


Remember to make eye contact while having a discussion. No one wants to talk with someone who is always scanning the room for a more important prospect. More importantly, don’t leave someone hanging. Close a conversation before moving on to another person or group.


Avoid anything that is controversial or sexual in nature. Flirting with opposite-sex (or same-sex) colleagues is not appropriate! Also, steer clear of taboo topics like dieting, health (yours or theirs), the cost of possessions, malicious gossip, office politics, and religion.


Sometimes the most promising careers get ruined at office parties, and the culprit is usually alcohol. Never, ever, drink on an empty stomach; the risk of losing control or being indiscreet is too great. In fact, be sure to pace your alcoholic intake throughout the course of the evening.

Don’t fill your plate to overflowing. People seldom notice you going back for second’s at large cocktail functions; they will, however, notice that mountainous heap on your plate.

If pass-arounds are being served by waiters, don’t try to take more than one snack item at a time. Decline altogether if the foods are messy, too large (more than a bite size), or drippy.

Never, ever dip something from which you’ve already taken a bite back into the sauce—”One chip, one dip.”

Always exercise caution to avoid burning yourself when biting into hot snacks. Test the temperature unobtrusively first, and remember that the inside is usually quite a bit hotter.


While food served on toothpicks or cocktail sticks may keep your fingers clean, there is the problem of what to do with those sticks.

Please do not put toothpicks in your pockets, Ming vases, or flower arrangements!

Don’t litter, but don’t put them back on the serving tray; it is unappetizing to others and it is unhygienic.

If no table or plate is available, wrap the toothpicks in a napkin and dispose of them later.


The right hand should always be kept free to shake hands with other guests who may be arriving or leaving. Food, drink, napkins, stirrers, and toothpicks—everything—goes into the left hand. A cold, wet drink should never be held in the right hand for more than the time it takes to have a quick sip.

Any glass that has a stem should be held by the stem and not the cup.

Hold a highball or whisky tumbler by the base of the glass rather than wrapping your hand around the drink.

Wine glasses should always be held by the stem, foot, or base of the glass and not the bowl.

Take that cocktail napkin and put it between the ring and baby finger of the left hand. Then, spread the ring and middle fingers to act as a base for the plate.

Use the thumb and index finger to hold the stem or base of the glass and to stabilise the top of the plate at the same time. As you need something,

The author is a corporate trainer, mentor and coach in the area of good grooming, international business etiquette, cross cultural communication, fine dining and wine appreciation.

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