Mind your Manners: Be the professional at the holiday office party

Editor's note: We believe good manners are timeless, that's why we're introducing a once-a-month etiquette column offering you tips and advice on how to handle real-life situations.

Whether your office cocktail party is at a restaurant or the boss' home, be on your best behavior! Yes, it's been a long year and you've worked hard; however, a holiday party is not the time let your hair down. It's an extension of your professional life and how you act speaks volumes about you and your future career.

These etiquette tips will ensure you won't be the topic of conversation at work the next day.

- Dress appropriately. The way we dress speaks volumes about how we view ourselves, and the business we represent. Leave tacky ties and thigh-high skirts in the closet.

- Greet the host. Never arrive before the start time of the party and always greet and thank the host upon approval. Mix and mingle with everyone and shy away from your usual bumblebee clique. Don't be the last to linger and leave. Don't sneak out the back door. A brief goodbye and thank you is not only nice, but also necessary.

- Don't overdue it. Watch alcohol consumption. Easier said than done when at a festive gathering. Remember the old adage "loose lips sink ships."

- Make proper introductions. When introducing two women it doesn't matter whose name is spoken first. When a man and woman are being introduced, ladies first. When introducing a client to the CEO, the client's name is spoken first. After all, there wouldn't be a CEO or a company without the client. Treat the client like a VIP. Polite conversation should follow and as the person making the introduction, you should take the lead.

- Unglue your hand from your smart phone. This is not the time to talk or text. Keep your cell phone tucked away. If you must sneak a peak, excuse yourself and do so in the restroom.

- Toasting the season. The host is always the first person to make a toast. If you are being honored with a toast, such as your accomplishment as the "top sales person," do not raise your glass, drink or give yourself a round of applause. Show your appreciation by making a toast to the person who toasted you! Be brief, 20 seconds or less!

- Anticipate hard-to-navigate foods. Remind yourself that certain foods are not good choices! Olives have pits. Chicken wings have bones. Cherry tomatoes have seeds that can catapult directly into the eye of another guest. A cocktail party is not a dinner. It's a time to celebrate and mingle. If you are famished, eat something before you go.

- Be Gracious. A hand-written thank you note to the host or office party planner shows thoughtful effort.

Happy Holidays from the Berkshire School of Etiquette!

Diane Massey formed the Berkshire School of Etiquette in 2014 and trained at the American School of Protocol in Atlanta, Ga. Her sought-after seminars empower individuals with the knowledge and skills of modern day etiquette to take action personally and professionally with confidence and courtesy, in a spirit of cooperation and awareness of others, every day in every way. www.berkshireschoolofetiquette.com


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