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Be Social, Don’t Skip the Party, and Other Redundant Holiday Party Advice

Yes, it's that time of year. And apparently some of you need to hear this stuff because people who are paid to write about it (not me) continue to write about it.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'd like to re-extend my yearly offer for any lonely souls in Washington, DC without a family to call their own to crash our annual get together on Christmas day. There's food, friends, carols around the piano, an awesome dog, and I'll even share some of my Maryland craft beer with you. Just give me a holla and we'll save you a plate.

When it comes to the other kind of holiday parties, Danetha Doe suggests for Sage that if you don't have a good party to go to, maybe you should find one:

Research and calendar all of the holiday parties you want to attend. Visit and reach out to the industry leaders in your area to find out about events. Also check your local Chamber of Commerce and ask your local entrepreneur friends if they know of any events.

Assuming you can handle your alcohol and are interested in networking and free food, this might be the perfect way to make just a few more connections before the end of the year. After all, many people are phoning in work through New Years (sorry, not you, auditors) and are filled with the joy of the season, therefore less crotchety than usual. So go forth and meet them!

When it comes to office holiday parties, the AICPA has some suggestions for those of you who really have no idea how to behave in public or around other human beings. Such as:

  • Do attend. If you’re a new hire, you may be tempted to skip the party. That’s a mistake, [president of business etiquette training and consulting firm AdvanceMe Associates, Jonna] Martin says. “Being new is all the more reason to go!” she said. “When you’re not expected to know everything, you can ask networking questions that someone with more seniority might not be comfortable asking, such as what career moves someone’s made or how he or she came to the firm.”
  • Do your homework. “You can incorporate the same strategies for networking at a holiday party as you’d do in any other situation,” Martin says. “Review the employee directory or company website beforehand so you can put names with faces and you won’t be struggling to remember names at the party.”

Remember, though, that it's a party, not another day at the office. So as much as you might not have anything else to talk about, avoid talking about work because no one gives a crap that you memorize ASCs in your free time.

Now, let's talk about alcohol. Just because you can get blitzed on Fireball shots doesn't mean you should. The AICPA's article suggests a one drink maximum but as CPAs, it's your duty to maximize free alcohol opportunities in a professional but casual setting. Having partied with you guys at, say, AICPA conferences, I can assure you most people are not maxing out at one drink. In fact, CPAs are the only group I know that can drink media people under the table (source: me). So, know your personal limit and pace yourself. It's going to be a long night. If your firm has cheaped out on liquor, resist the urge to leave the party and go do a bunch of shots in a bar across the street.

Assuming you aren't completely shit-faced before this whole thing begins, you're going to need something to talk about. Accounting Today reminds us to be cautious in our chatter:

Avoid office gossip and controversial topics. Stay clear of topics related to sex, religion and politics.

It's unclear from the article but we assuming staying clear of the topic of sex means it's not appropriate to ask your colleague if they'd like to get under your mistletoe ifyouknowwhatImean.

If you are the type who can't formulate full sentences to other individuals in group settings, you can even plan out a few safe topics you plan to talk about, such as what your cat did today or where you plan to vacation in your dreams. Topics to avoid include any pending SEC orders, PCAOB inspection results, who is running for president in 2016, who is banging who in your office, and anything that might give you away as a reader of this website.

Lastly, we need to talk about attire. Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean you can dress like a skank. That's reserved for Halloween. Save the horny oranament look for a non-work party.

As the AICPA article suggests:

Do wear the right thing. “Aim for something festive but conservative,” Martin said. “You can ramp up your daily work wear, but keep your outfit consistent with your professional brand.” “It’s essential to know the dress code in advance,” said [vice president of internal audit at Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Co. and a 2014 graduate of AICPA’s Leadership Academy Alison] VanOtterloo, “as appearing too casual or too formal can be awkward.” You should also avoid wearing anything too revealing. “If you question whether you should wear something, then don’t,” she said.

The AICPA article also suggests you shouldn't share awkward photos to social media but if they accidentally end up in the Going Concern tip box, that might be OK.

Happy Holidays!