Making It: 3 Tips for Making the Right Impression at Your Office Holiday Party

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Get the money and career advice you need from former Wall Street executive, and always badass Latina, Julissa Arce.

‘Tis the season for office holiday parties, which means open bars, smooching with the bosses and other potentially disastrous decision-making that can take your career on the wrong track.

MORE: Why This Author Writes Fictional Books About Career-Driven Latinas

Early in my Wall Street career, I learned that all business outings are opportunities for making an impression, whether good or bad. Office holiday parties are no exception. They can be a lot of fun, and great opportunities to build rapport with your colleagues and bosses. Take advantage of the occasion and use the time to network and build relationships. Do not take this time to make fashion statements or indulge in all of the free food and drinks, as tempting as it might be.

Here are three tips for making the right impression at your office holiday party, because, trust me, you’ll be happy when you're not the subject of the office gossip in 2017.

1. Don’t dress to impress. Office holiday parties are not the place for your outfit to be the center of attention – save those looks for a party with your friends.  As Latinas, it is in our DNA to be fabulous, but our outfits, hair and makeup don’t have to be THE only outlet for all our fabulousness. You know the culture of your office better than I do.  But if you have to ask yourself if it’s OK to wear that dress that hugs your perfect curves just right, then maybe the answer is no.  The right outfit for your office holiday party is one that makes you feel comfortable and one that doesn’t make everyone turn their heads. This doesn’t mean you have to look tacky; you can still look beautiful, festive and professional. My friends at Quinn Style put together this handy guide to help you choose the right outfit according to your personal style and body type. Make your colleagues and bosses focus on all your amazing accomplishments this year, not the rad shoes you’re wearing.

2. Don't get sloppy.  One of the best pieces of advice I received from a mentor and former boss was this: “go out with the boys, come in with the men.” What does that mean exactly? It means: hang, but don’t get sloppy. Don’t come in late the next day.  As a woman, I often had to balance between hanging with “the boys” while also keeping a reputation for being professional. Office holiday parties can get rowdy and, while making an early exit can be the best strategy, sometimes it’s important to stay out late, because sometimes important business discussions happen over a cocktail. However, you don’t want to be the colleague that is throwing back tequila shots one minute and dancing like Elaine (from Seinfeld) the next. Alternate your drink from a cocktail to a soda with lime that looks just like a vodka-soda. Ask the bartender to serve your counterfeit drink in the same glass as a cocktail.  The next morning, come in early, be the first one at the office.  Everyone else will show up late, possibly with a hangover. But not you, you are a badass warrior woman, and you stay out late with the boys, and come in like a boss.

3. You are not Pam, and he is not Jim (from The Office). According to a 2012 careerbuilder.com survey, 31 percent of office romances led to marriage. Those relationships most likely didn’t start over a sloppy kiss at the office holiday pary, however. He or she might be the love of your life, and, if so, they will still be the love of your life the day after the office holiday party, and you can make out then, in the privacy of your own date. 

PLUS: 6 Career Books by Latinos You Must Read

Final Thoughts: You’ve worked too hard all year long to make the right impression, to earn that raise or that promotion; don’t let one small mistake during the office holiday party take your career off course.  Stay focused on the goal, and remember no double-fisting; keep your hands free for shaking hands! 

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About this author

Julissa Arce, Contributor

Julissa Arce is a political commentator, speaker, writer and author of MY (UNDERGROUND) AMERICAN DREAM. She is a leading voice in the fight for social justice, immigrant rights and education equality.  She is a contributor for CNBC and the Huffington Post.  Her writing has been featured in CNN, The Hill, Refinery29, CNN en Español, and Fusion among other national outlets.

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