As the festive season rolls in, our calendars can start to resemble a vibrant mix of social and professional engagements – packed with events that oftentimes blur the lines between our professional and personal worlds. My own schedule is starting to look as lively as Sydney’s Martin Place in December! But let’s be honest, juggling holiday work events is more than just mingling over mince pies. It’s about striking the right balance between celebrating the year’s achievements and upholding that professional image we’ve worked so hard to build. So, let’s dive into some simple yet super effective tips for navigating these festive functions with grace and making the most out of every opportunity. 

Introducing Festivalism

With those jingle bells chiming away in the distance, the holiday season brings a special kind of energy, and it’s essential to tap into that without compromising your professional demeanor. Cue ‘Festivalism,’ a blend of festivity and professionalism essential for your slew of upcoming events. This is the idea that celebrating with colleagues can create lasting and meaningful bonds, as highlighted in the study ‘Social Interactions and Well-Being: The Surprising Power of Weak Ties,’ published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. This research underscores how even casual interactions at events like office parties can significantly enhance our social networks and sense of well-being – which ultimately enhances your career long-term. But remember, finding the balance between festive cheer and maintaining the professional poise that defines your brilliant career is key, and when it’s done right, it can have a lasting positive impact. Even to this day, I’m still catching up with connections I made at my very first office Christmas party!

Dress for (Festive) Success

Those who know me know I’m all for a standout style moment. When it comes to holiday work events, picking the right outfit is more than just fashion; it’s about setting the right tone. It’s the perfect opportunity to sprinkle some festive cheer into your attire, while still keeping in line with your company’s dress code. Remember, feeling great in what you wear not only boosts your confidence but also ensures you leave a positive, lasting impression.

But let’s not forget, your outfit choice is a reflection of your professional brand too. As Natasha Koifman writes for Forbes, a confident first impression can be the key to creating a long-lasting connection, so, while it’s absolutely fine to go for something with a bit more pizzazz – think a stylish bright green number or those eye-catching gold stilettos – it should still resonate with your company’s ethos and the industry you’re in. It’s about striking that perfect balance between expressing your personality and maintaining your professional image.

Network with Intent

Holiday parties present a golden opportunity to network in a more relaxed setting. After all, people with strong networks end up with higher salaries and promotion opportunities, according to Harvard Business Review. Identify key individuals you’d like to connect with and initiate meaningful conversations. Share your achievements from the year, express gratitude for collaborations, and plant the seeds for future professional endeavors. Strategic networking can open doors to new opportunities in the coming year. And remember, a small clutch can still accommodate a business card or two, should you need to network the old fashioned way. 

Navigate Small Talk with Grace

Conversations during the holidays can take unexpected turns. Navigate them with decorum, steering clear of sensitive topics and focusing on positive and inclusive discussions. Finding connections through mutual colleagues, shared hobbies or favourite podcasts (did someone say ‘Your Brilliant Career’?) are just a few examples of breaking the ice. It’s about creating connections that transcend the professional realm, fostering a sense of camaraderie within your team.

 Leaving a Lasting Impression

Unlike the 80’s, where impressions only extended as far as the office corridor, in today’s digital age, the impact of holiday parties transcends beyond the immediate event. According to a 2020 report by LinkedIn, staying connected online is more crucial than ever, with 85% of jobs being filled via previously-established connections. What does that mean for you this festive season? Be sure to extend your holiday party connections to platforms like LinkedIn! Sending thoughtful follow-up InMails or emails post-event, sharing highlights on your Instagram story, and reinforcing your commitment to maintaining an ongoing connection can leave a lasting positive impression. In a world where your digital presence is as important as your physical one, these post-event interactions are key to solidifying and expanding your professional network.

As the tinsel goes up and the event invites roll in, remember that the holiday party season is an incredible opportunity for professional women to celebrate achievements, forge connections, and set the stage for a successful year ahead. If you’re looking for even more tips to navigate work events during the silly season, I invite you to download our Office Party Survival Guide – it’s packed with practical tips to help you move through the crowd, have a game plan, and even consider how to handle the next day following the festivities.

So, embrace the celebrations, stay true to your professional self, and let the brilliance of your career shine through this holiday season. Cheers to a joyful and successful year ahead!