Survival of the fittest has new meaning when it comes to holiday parties. Key tips for evolutionary advantage:


Decoding the dress code

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
― Charles Darwin
  • Ask someone who’s attended before what the ACTUAL dress code is so that you can naturally select the best outfit. The host’s idea of “casual” attire might be a bit fancier than the jeans and t-shirt that come to mind.

No kidding around

How paramount the future is to the present when one is surrounded by children.
-Charles Darwin
  • Clarify if kids are welcome. Just because a party is on a Saturday afternoon does not necessarily mean “family friendly.” And just because kids were welcome one year does not guarantee the same this year (especially if the host’s kids have recently “evolved” aka gone off to college).
  • BONUS tip: Ask their assistant about the kid policy for the party. If the cost of a babysitter is too much, consider coordinating a babysitter with a colleague and sharing the cost, or offer a swap: see if a friend can watch your kids this time and you can return the favor.

Be interesting

It is a cursed evil to any man to become as absorbed in any subject as I am in mine.
-Charles Darwin
  • The dean may show up, so have something interesting, witty, or clever to say. Practice your introduction so that you sound confident about who you are and what you do.
  • BONUS tip: Study up on the recent achievements of the VIPs who may be in attendance. This provides an effective way to avoid talking (about yourself), while still engaging with others who perhaps do like to talk (about themselves).

Stay alert

An American monkey, after getting drunk on brandy, would never touch it again, and thus is much wiser than most men.
-Charles Darwin
  • Professional parties are not the time and place to let your hair down and devolve. Don’t drink too much, and don’t feel pressured to drink in order to fit in.

  • BONUS tip: Carry around the same glass all night so that others will not continue to offer you a drink.

Timing is everything

A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.
-Charles Darwin
  • Be on time, leave on time. It’s the polite thing to do.
  • BONUS tip: Trying to make a quick getaway? Remember, the further away you park, the easier it might be to leave without making a scene of asking others to move their cars out of the way. More expert exit advice here: How to leave a party early if you’re an introvert.

Bring something

A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth.
-Charles Darwin

SUPER BONUS tip: The party is usually only 2-3 hours long, so splurge on a babysitter for a few extra hours and go out with other faculty for even more fun!

More awkward advice about office holiday parties:

The office holiday party: More awkward than meeting the parents

10 Holiday Celebration and Office Party Tips

9 Emotionally Draining Stages of Trying to Leave a Family Christmas Party

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