12 Very Merry Hacks for Your Office Holiday Party

Just after you’ve mentally checked out for the holidays, there’s one last thing you must conquer: the office holiday party.

The major downfall of any well-intentioned office holiday party-goer is to combat the stress and anxiety of forced coworker bonding with an over-indulgence in Vodka.

Now, I’ve gotten into my fair share of embarrassing situations involving coworkers, alcohol, illicit drugs and deep discussions on the future of our employee stock bonus program, but over the years I’ve honed my ability toseem like I’m having a good time without the possibility of ruining my reputation. These days, no one could accuse me of anything except being the coolest, most with-it cat in town. And now I’m here to teach you to do the same.

Here are my 12 favorite office holiday party hacks for winning the party without embarrassing yourself.


1. Show up about an hour late

Never, ever, ever show up to your office holiday party on time. It makes you look like you don’t have a life and, trust me, for the purposes of this article, you definitely do have a life. Showing up late also significantly cuts into the total amount of time you have to be at this thing.

2. Chat up the after party

Always chat up the after party. If you don’t know of an after party, make one up. Make up several. Leave it vague but let people know that you’re way more in-the-know than they are.

But don’t actually go to any after party, even if there is one. Instead, go home and send out a few emails. Let the boss know where your real priorities are (while also making all your colleagues look like slackers).

3. Always have a drink in hand (water)

Most experts will tell you to limit yourself to one or two drinks at the office holiday party, but if you’re like me (an alcoholic) what’s the point of drinking if you’re not getting drunk? Let’s face it, if you’ve gotten plastered at one open bar you’ve gotten plastered at them all, and so have I.

The solution: avoid alcohol altogether.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to look like a narc standing around empty-handed. Simply make sure you always have in your hand a tumbler filled with water, ice and a lime. You’ll look like a badass drinking gin and tonic but, even better, you’ll feel like a badass watching as everyone gets blisteringly drunk while you keep all your wits about you. It will be like a movie without the 15 dollar ticket.

Having a drink in your hand also means you never have to fully commit to dancing; you’ll always seem like you’re just doing the best you can.

4. Hit the photo booth hard

All that really matters is that you showed up, but if there’s no evidence then you might as well have stayed at home. So visit the photo booth (or upload to Instagram) several times with several different groups of people so that looking back, everyone will think of you as the life of the party, since they’ll all probably be too drunk to remember any real details.

5. Master the head bob

With your drink in hand, the most you’ll need to muster on the dance floor is a well-timed head bob. Practice bobbing your head up and down, left and right and in a circle. Just try to avoid doing this:

And do something more like this:

This looks cool even if you don’t have any rhythm.

6. Bring a friend who’ll be impressed

Never bring a friend who’s company has a cooler office party than yours. That’s just going to present a great deal of embarrassment for you both. Instead, bring someone who works their butt off but hardly gets a party at all, like your friend who teaches 2nd grade or your other friend who’s a nurse.

Their awe at your holiday party will make you and all your coworkers feel great, like this time it was really worth it.

7. Practice pretending you remember everyone’s name

Nothing is more embarrassing than calling someone the wrong name, but nothing is harder than trying to pretend you know someone’s name when you don’t. You could review the team directory beforehand, but that seems like a lot of work for this time of year.

Instead, if you do find yourself in a situation where you don’t remember someone’s name, quickly deflect the oversight by pointing out their great tie or asking them where they got those shoes. You could also pull a trick like, “How do you spell your name again?” ask for a business card, or ask how they’d like to be introduced on stage at a hypothetical karaoke contest.

Most of all, treat everyone as if they’re your best friend even if you have absolutely no idea who they are and will likely never speak to them again.

8. Dress for your goals

Want to get a raise? Dress clean and modern but not too fancy so the boss doesn’t think you’re balling.

Want to get promoted? Dress fun, but professional. Perhaps a pencil skirt with lots of bling. Think about what your boss wore last year and do that, but better.

Want to make sure that the girl in accounting notices you? Wear a bright color like red or blue and show a little skin. Make sure that what you wear gets you noticed in the right way. After all, the holiday season is the perfect time of year to focus on all the things you want. And team bonding is the perfect disguise for trying to get them.

9. Devise several ways to start a conversation

At most holiday parties, you never know who you’re going to run into and when, so you be prepared. Have about ten good ways to strike up a conversation handy to use at any time. Some of these might include:

  • Drunk enough? (laughs)
  • Heading anywhere for the holidays?
  • Hey where’d you get that chicken slider?
  • That’s a pretty sweet coke bathroom, huh? (laughs)
  • Are you going to the after party?

This way you’ll never be caught off guard without the perfect convo intro.

10. Devise several excuses to get out of a conversation

I can say with absolute certainty that at some point, you’ll be involved in a conversation which you’ll need to be uninvolved in almost immediately. It might be that married guy who won’t stop flirting with you, that woman in marketing who just wants to gossip, or Larry. Ugh. Larry. Give it a rest Larry.

Make sure you have several quick excuses you can use, such as:

  • Excuse me, I have to use the restroom
  • I have to grab a chicken slider before they’re all gone
  • I think I see my Mom over there

Leave the conversation politely and with grace, and never roll your eyes before you’re out of sight.

11. If you’re leaving with a coworker, leave separately

If you decide to do the unthinkable and leave with a coworker, be discreet. I can’t give you specific instructions because this is something I’d never do but I will tell you this:

  1. Have him go to the bathroom while you get your coat
  2. Wait at the taxi stand and jump into a cab alone
  3. Tell the driver to go around the corner and wait
  4. Have him leave through the back entrance and meet you there

I have no idea if that would even work (it did) but you can give it a try. Let me know what worked for you so I can add it to my research.

12. Leave without saying goodbye

This is my signature trick at every party, but it works even better at office parties. Don’t be the guy going around to each and every person to let them know you’re leaving. You’ll only be subjecting everyone to a prolonged series of polite nothings and is-this-a-hug-or-a-handshake-moment conundrums (it’s neither).

If you’re worried that people will think you’re rude I’m here to tell you: they won’t even remember. Their last memory of you will be a fond one: smiling as you bit into a chicken slider and joking that this better be free range organic.

And if no one remembers when you left, they might easily assume you stayed all night.

I hope these tricks helped and I hope you have a wonderful office holiday party and a happy holiday season! If you enjoyed this, you’ll most definitely like 10 Most Effective Ways to Pretend to Listen to Your Coworkers.

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About the author

Sarah Cooper

Sarah Cooper is a writer and comedian whose work has appeared on Huffington Post and Business Insider. She is an expert in career and relationship advice for people who like to laugh.

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