There are many helpful tips for holiday social events. Here are a few that will help you enjoy and converse with ease:
- At business social events, you are still under scrutiny. Your attire should not be too casual or revealing as that impression will carry back to the office and can affect promotion opportunities. You still want to be remembered as the polished (and fun) individual, not for what you wore. Have extra clothing in the car to make a quick change if need be.
- Don’t want to attend an event? Go anyway! Spend at least 30 minutes making the rounds, shaking hands and being seen by as many people as possible. That way, you will show your interest in the company in a favorable light. After that time, slip out quietly. Be sure to discuss the event, thank the organizer, etc., the next day. They will appreciate it!
- When in a networking environment with food and drinks, avoid trying to talk to individuals while holding one in each hand. Eat at a standing table first so at least your right hand is free to shake hands. It can be awkward and messy trying to talk while juggling your hors d’oeuvres.
- Always hold your glass in your left hand when mingling so the right one is dry and free to shake hands.
- Drink a glass of water or coffee between alcoholic drinks to maintain a sharp, professional conversation at all times.
- If you are socializing with upper management or clients who are not drinking alcohol, please abstain during your conversation with them. This may sound old fashioned but it shows you are respectful of their time, preferences and totally engaged in your conversation with them.
- Make it a habit to introduce yourself to at least five people you don’t know to build up your network or make new friends. Always focus on them (which also helps if you’re self-conscious talking about yourself.) If you want to talk with them again, ask for their card first rather than hand them yours. This is primarily “social” time, not business development time.
- At social events, your date is also under scrutiny. Adults never want to introduce someone as “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” but rather just offer their first and last names. If it’s your spouse, provide that designation.
- Help your date be more comfortable by telling them as much about the people they will meet while on your way to the event. Knowing what subjects are good and which ones are off limits makes for a more fun (and profitable) event.
- Always thank the host or hostess and let them know how much you appreciate their hospitality. Handwritten thank-you’s are a nice touch for more formal parties. Even an email can show you are thinking about them and their thoughtfulness.
- When attending an event at someone’s home, a small gift life a bottle of wine or box of chocolates is usually a welcome gift to show your appreciation for all of their work.
- If a sit-down meal, follow the host/hostess for when to put your napkin in your lap and begin eating.
- Wait until they begin eating in case they want to ask a blessing or make a toast. It is embarrassing to begin and then put that fork down.
- The lady should sit to the right of her male date/partner.
- Look around to see if someone needs an item in front of you and pass them as soon as you have used them: salt and pepper, cream for coffee, etc.
- If the host/hostess does not have professional help for their event, it is a very nice gesture to gather plates, glasses and other items you notice laying around. The harried host can then enjoy more time with guests and it only takes you a couple minutes of thoughtfulness.
- Never plank you knife between plate and table. Set it across the edge of your dinner plate or bread & butter plate.
- Your bread and butter plate is on the left!
- Place your napkin on the back of your seat if you get up briefly and lay it back on your lap as soon as you return.
- When you are through eating, you are “finished” and never “done.” (My elderly mentor used to scold me about that and said, “Meat is done, you are finished.”)
Good manners and engaging conversation are always a hit!!!May your holiday be filled with love, laughter, good friends and family. May prosperity and success be yours in the new year!
Rita Rocker is an international published author, speaker and consultant with Transformation Academy, LLC.