We’ve got your last-minute holiday workplace etiquette guide right here

With less than two weeks until Christmas, the holiday season is pretty calendar official at this point. Decorations are up, stores are jammed, you’re probably up late ordering socks for family members on Amazon, and (as is the case every year) there is a minefield of office holiday etiquette to navigate. Don’t feel too badly about all the “what do I do in this situation” questions dancing like sugar plums in your head — literally no one is born knowing what to wear to an office holiday party. To help sail through these fun, but stressful, work weeks more like Emily Post and less like Bridget Jones (love you, Bridge) we’ve put together a few essential do’s and don’ts. When in doubt, just keep repeating the mantra “don’t be that guy.” Or, girl as the case may be. Happy holiday-ing!

The Office Party

Do: Show up. Depending on timing, it might be tempting to use the office party as an excuse to skip out of work early, or you might have other plans that evening, but resist the temptation to bail. The office party is a great time to show that you want to be involved at work. It can also be a great way to chat with coworkers you don’t usually see, or get facetime with the boss who’s always in a meeting.

Don’t: Overdo it. Whether it’s hitting the bar too hard or being the person who swiped all the shrimp cocktail from the buffet, you don’t want to be the person who looks like they don’t know how to handle themselves at a party.

Bonus Do: Have fun! Yes, you need to keep it professional, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying yourself. This is your time to celebrate with your coworkers all the hard work you’ve done this year, and someone else is footing the bill.

Gift Giving

Do: Find out office traditions. Do your coworkers do Secret Santa every year? Does everyone in your group chip in for gifts for the boss or administrative assistant? Be a team player and participate in whatever the group is doing.

Don’t: Bite off more than you can chew. Maybe your office isn’t quite so gifty and you’d like to change that. If there isn’t a Secret Santa or White Elephant exchange, go for it! Just don’t feel like you have to come up with individualized presents for each of your coworkers, or organize a gingerbread house building competition for the whole office. The holidays are already stressful, don’t let work add to it.

Bonus Do: Know the office policies. Many organizations have policies dictating whether or not you can give a gift to your boss, or what you’re allowed to accept from vendors. Make sure you know your company’s rules and follow them.


Do: Ask for time off well in advance. The ship may have already sailed for this year, but if you need extra days off for travel and family obligations, ask for them as soon as you know your plans; it’ll make it easier to find someone to cover for you if you need it.

Don’t: Bail in a time of need. Some offices become ghost towns around the holidays. Others go into crunch mode at the end of the year, and if yours is one of them, maybe this isn’t the time for that week long vacation. If you know you have projects with end of year deadlines, either finish them in advance or try and minimize your time away from work.

Do: Use vacation days if you’ve got them. If you’ve got paid vacation, now’s the time to check and see if those days roll over into the next calendar year if you don’t use them. If you’ve got vacation days that need to be used before the year’s end and don’t have any major deadlines looming, then don’t feel guilty about taking off on a random Wednesday to do your gift shopping. You’ve earned your vacation days, don’t let them go to waste!

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