USAA Community Avoid These Classic Holiday Party Fails.jpg

We have all seen this mistake made or maybe made it ourselves. We get too relaxed at a holiday party, drink too much, show up late or don’t show up at all.  Follow these tips to help make sure you do not make these same mistakes at the upcoming holiday party!


  1. If You Are Invited, You Are Expected to Attend. In some organizations, the annual Holiday Party is an important tradition. The best rule of thumb is that if you are invited, then plan to attend. Remember, holiday parties are about tradition, the company leadership’s view of giving back to employees, and having non-office interaction with fellow employees. Have a good attitude and make the best of these parties.

  2. When You Dress, Plan on Holiday Traditional Casual. What to wear is always a challenge. Traditional holiday casual is the best choice. Wear an outfit that is classic, a little conservative, and tasteful. In the case of the Holiday Party, a little boring is fine. Anything that is too tight, too much skin, or too much color can make you the focus of the evening.

  3. Limit Yourself to Two Drinks – The Entire Night. Limiting yourself to two drinks for the entire night seems like a “buzz kill” and that is correct. Alcohol and holiday parties are where stories come from and you do not want to be a story of that type. Even if you can drink a lot of alcohol and still be yourself – don’t do it. People are always looking and evaluating others alcohol consumption. The two-drink limit eliminates one more risk.

  4. Arrive on Time & Don’t Stay Late. If a party is at a home or restaurant, then be very mindful of arriving on time and not staying too late. Respect your hosts and the restaurant owners because they have gone to the immense trouble to organize, clean, staff, and stock for a great event. By staying within the timeline of the event, you respect everyone’s time and effort it took to arrange for a great event.

  5. Stay Within the Dollar Range for A Gift Exchange. It’s easy to want to spend above the limit on a gift exchange, but don’t do it. Your gift exchange item should be classy, memorable, creative, and under the dollar limit. When people go above the limit, they make everyone else who stayed under the limit feel bad. Don’t be that person – there are lots of ways to have a classic gift. A great idea is a recipe card with all the ingredients already bought – then you can literally give someone their dinner for the next night – ready to go!

  6. Minimize Politics & Religious Differences in Conversations. Finding a conversational theme that offends no one seems to get harder every year. Stay clear of politics, office politics, gossip, and anything that puts another person or group down. Instead, stock up on local stories, vacation ideas, a new local restaurant, or a favorite recipe. It also goes without saying that vulgar language of any kind is off limits. Focus on “softball” conversations and topics that allow you to talk freely with anyone.

  7. Be Aware for Others & Don’t Forget a Thank You Card. At every holiday party, be especially aware of any young people that may not follow these rules or feel that they can emulate behavior from more senior members of your organization. In addition, make sure anyone uses a ride share service or taxi cab to get home if they had too much to drink. Finally, a written and mailed “Thank You” card is a great way to offer sincere thanks and make a great impression.

Have a great time at the annual Holiday Party!


Share Your Story of a Holiday Party Fail!


Related Information:


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  4. How to Use Social Media and Blogging to Create a Personal Brand
  5. USAA Leaving the Military Page

About the Author: Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 360 articles in over 185 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorporate and