Your office get–together doesn’t have to be an embarrassing or uncomfortable event. Have a great time. After all, it is a celebration. But just remember that you’re partying with your colleagues, not your college crowd. Ensure that you enhance your image socially and professionally whilst still having a good time.
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The Office Party
More often than not seen as an ordeal to be survived, rather than the highlight of your social calendar. Remember having to listen to the firm’s auditor scintillating overview of company results for half an hour, rivalled only by having to fend of the amorous advances of a very young, very drunk accounts executive.
Arrive early
This is a good chance to chat with senior executives in a relaxed atmosphere before it gets too hectic. View the party as a way of making valuable contacts and to enhance your status in the new year.
Don’t be a wallflower
Circulate, don’t stay in your own little work clique of colleagues. Move around and try not to stay more than 10 minutes with a particular person. You never know who can help you move up the ladder.
Do your homework:
  1. Is it a single invitation or is my spouse, partner invited? Don’t just assume.
  2. What is the dress code? – If in doubt dress smarter than more casually.
  3. Is it necessary to RSVP? If so do it within 48 hours.
  4. Who else is coming, suppliers, clients?
Dress the part
Be remembered for what you have achieved, not for what you have revealed. This is not an opportunity for you to show off your belly–ring, tattoo, or any other form of bodily decoration that is usually reserved for the beach.
No flirting
Even though the mistletoe may be in abundance avoid the urge to use it. Respect the physical boundaries of others, that way they will respect you in the morning. Avoid being too "touchy" and provocative on the dance floor. When you find yourself barefoot on the table with cat calls and people yelling, "Take it off!" , you have overstepped the boundaries of what is acceptable.
Don’t talk business
Nobody wants to talk business at the company party. This is a time to find out what your co–workers like to do outside the office. Strive to find at least 2 things in common with all you meet.
Stay in control
Eat, drink and behave in moderation. Have a snack beforehand to quell tummy gurgles. Don’t hang around the buffet table or bar like a vulture. Over indulgence in alcohol has ruined many a career, know your limits.
Respect cultural, religious diversities
Never force anyone to drink, dance or become overly familiar – this may offend their religious or cultural beliefs.
The Perfect Guest
    Make sure that you end up on the A–list (pleasure to have around) rather than the D–list (remind me never to invite him/her again!)
  • Reply either positively or negatively (not maybe) when answering an invitation. Do it promptly within 48 hours, to assist the hostess in her planning.
  • Don’t sample food off others plates unless encouraged to do so.
  • Do get merry and perky, not drunk and loud.
  • Provide sincere compliments, on the food, décor etc.
  • The perfect guest is enthusiastic and considerate. Treat fellow guests, the host as well as their property with respect.
  • Remember to thank the organizers and your host on leaving, good manners gain you respect.
  • The morning after the night before ... call or send a thank you letter or e–mail.
"Others may not always believe what you say,
but they will always believe what you do"
Mind over Platter
A fun, hands on workshop, which includes:
  • Meal manners – practical, role playing of buffet and sit down dinners from showing you how to hold a glass to disposing of olive pips!
  • Networking–the art of small talk
  • Seating arrangements – who sits where, where is the power seat?
  • Equip yourself to become a ’mover and shaker’ in a way that is dynamic and relevant to today’s working world.

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    What to wear for the Party?
    "What shall I wear? Is society’s second most asked question. The first is " Do you really love me? No matter what one replies to either, it is never accepted as settling the issue
    Judith Martin
    Here are some common events and the suggested attire for these occasions:
    White Tie, Cravate Blanche or Full Evening Dress
    Generally only worn after 6 p.m. The most formal of evening wear. Occasions that require white tie are increasingly rare, but these still include: State dinners, orchestral events, royal functions, diplomatic functions and very formal charity balls.
    • Black tailcoat, white dress shirt with wing collars, cuff links, white evening waistcoat, white bow tie.
    • Optional : black top hat and white gloves.
    • Ornate ball gowns with all the trimmings, tiara and all.

    Black Tie/ Cravate Noir/ Evening dress/ Formal
    Not all black tie affairs are created equal–time, host and reason must be considered when choosing the outfit.
    Business black tie–quiet and elegant, avoid plunging necklines, daredevil slits.
    Social black tie–indulge, get sexy, glamorous, red carpet at the Oscar’s stuff!
    Formal functions include weddings, gala dinners, charity balls, opening nights.
    • Tuxedos/smoking/dinner jackets in black or white.
    • A fly front or ruffled dress shirt with white or red silk handkerchief in pocket, cuff links.
    • A cummerbund to cover the area where the shirt tucks into the pants.
    • Black bow tie.
    • Try a plain white textured shirt with a bright or patterned tie, cravat or bowtie for a more up to date look.
    • Long dresses, (not as ornate as ball gowns).
    • Ethnic dress is also appropriate at this level.
    Don’t waste this wonderful occasion by going in a plain frock–turn on the GLITZ.
    Smart/ Collar and tie or Cocktail
    Year–end functions, cocktail parties, smart business dinners may all indicate a smart dress code.
    • Wear a dark suit, collared shirt and luxurious tie.
    • Shirts currently are striped or textured with an embossed sheen.
    • A stylish look is the dress shirt with a contrast collar and cuff considered very dressy even when worn without the tie.
    • Ties are thicker ensuring the knot tied is larger and more opulent looking stripes and polka dots are very current.
    • Colours include the deep jewel colours, golds and even the seasonal brights such as pinks greens and oranges.
    • Cocktail dresses should fall within one inch of the knee in either direction and be of an elegant style ... simple or plain is certainly acceptable. Elegant need never be in your face.
    • Evening pants suit with a glitzy top or try one of the latest sexy lingerie inspired tops.
    • A feminine floaty chiffon or silky shirt with evening skirt or pants.
    • Invest in a skirt or pants that are classic and versatile which will last beyond the season.
    Smart Casual
    Functions may include year–end parties, dinner with friends or business associates at a home or a more casual restaurant.
    • The new style men’s blazer has matt silver buttons not gold, which allows the blazer to be worn with anything from a smart pair of pants, to a chino, to a pair of dark jeans.
    • Choose texturised evening shirts.
    • Colours and pattern can become stronger and brighter .
    • A tie is optional.
    • Dresses–from your classic black dress to a 50’s inspired print dress, to a flouncy, feminine strapless number.
    • Pants can be glamorised with the addition of glittering vests, pretty twin sets, strappy sandals and delicate jewellery.
    Casual Smart
    Functions include relaxed dinners, corporate get– a– ways, lazy summer braais and picnics.
    • Chino’s, casual pants or dark jeans.
    • Optional – a casual jacket.
    • Soft collared shirts, golfers, tightly woven summer weight pullover , good quality cotton pressed t–shirts.
    • Dress your jeans/capri pants up with:
      the new textured cropped jackets, a delicately draped top, a twin set and pearls, cotton t–shirts.

    Professional Impressions would like to credit the following for information and images used in this article:
    A Modern Girl’s Guide to EtiquetteSarah Ivens
    Emily Post On EntertainingEmily Post
    Cultural considerationsGuy Macleod
    Fair Lady2004 November
    Gentleman–A Timeless fashionBernhard Roetzel
    Chic SimpleWomen’ wardrobe
    Ahmed Saloojee from Grays Sandton City
    Miss SA website
    Tara Weiss
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