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Avoid These Mistakes This Holiday Season


Yesterday I heard Christmas carols on Calgary’s Lite 95.9, which means it is now officially holiday party season. Whether you will be attending a company Christmas party, having holiday lunch with clients, or showing up at every social event you can fit into your schedule to network for a new job, how you behave can leave a lasting impression.

But it’s not only holiday parties that can trip you up at this time of year. According to Vicky Oliver (, author of the bestseller 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions “come holiday time, even seasoned employees make etiquette gaffes.”

To help you be prepared to avoid workplace mistakes during the 2013 holiday season here from Vicky Oliver are some of the most common ones–and what to do instead.

Getting wasted at the company office party.

It’s fun to unwind and show a more relaxed side of your personality at the office party. If you want to sing a Miley Cyrus song, take a turn at the karaoke machine. But keep in mind that any behavior that’s scandalous, sloppy, or disrespectful will not be forgotten on Monday morning. Your coworkers will be snickering about it for years to come. Pour nonalcoholic punch into a wine glass and use the party as an opportunity to network with higher ups.

Throwing a private holiday party and talking about it at work.

It’s just not cool to talk about that cocktail party you’re having, the one that only a few of your coworkers are invited to. If you’re having a holiday get-together, ask your workplace friends to please not discuss it during workplace hours. Hurt feelings can affect workplace relationships and could even potentially jeopardize your job or promotion down the road.

Posting inappropriate photos from parties on Facebook or Instagram.

Do you really want your boss to see you doing Jell-O shooters with Mrs. Claus? The problem with social media is that you don’t know who’s reading about your weekend antics–and what opinion they’ll form about you once they do. If you just can’t resist sending your friends pics of your revelry, use Snapchat. The image disappears after 10 seconds–too fast for your boss to see it.

Bringing presents for just your favorite coworkers.

No matter how old, mature, and evolved we think we are, we all feel a twinge of envy when we notice that a coworker has gotten presents and we haven’t. It’s human nature. There’s etiquette protocol to follow for office gift giving, but here are a couple of pointers. It’s okay to give small gifts to those who serve you on a regular basis, such as the receptionist or your assistant, for example. But if you want to give gifts to others in the office, do it in private.

Forgetting to tip the service people in your office.

There are people in your building who make your job easier on a daily basis. These might include the doorman, the mail room guy, or the after-hours cleaner. Give them cash in a pretty envelope accompanied by a heartfelt, written message of appreciation. These people often make minimum wage or close to it, and a $20 bill goes a lot farther than a pair of gloves or a gift card to Starbucks. Moreover, they’ll be more willing to help you out the other 11 months of the year.

Calling in sick the day before or the day after the holiday.

Colds and flu seem to be awfully common before or after a three-day weekend. Hmmm. If you’re contemplating flying back after a holiday trip on a Monday instead of a Sunday night to save money, do yourself a favor and clear it with your manager first. Calling in sick to extend your holiday by an extra day won’t fool anyone and will come back to bite you. It’s about as transparent as the dog-ate-my-homework excuse.

Advertising your personal religious beliefs to excess.

When people get into the holiday spirit, it’s not uncommon to see a reindeer brooch pinned to a lapel, or Happy Hanukah cards splayed out on a desk. But if your cubicle is starting to resemble Santa’s workshop, complete with fake snow, a Nativity crèche, and flashing lights on a tiny tree, you’ve stepped over the good etiquette line. Not everyone feels cheery about the holidays–especially those who are not religious. Keep your tinsel for the tree at home.

Participating in the end-of-year rumor mill.

Nasty gossip, vicious during any season, has a particularly barbed ring to it during the holidays. This is especially true at the end of the year when a lot of companies make layoff decisions or give holiday bonuses. Have you heard through the grapevine that your company is merging or purging? Are you wondering who got the biggest and smallest bonuses? Time to keep your lips zipped. Don’t let idle rumors mushroom into bad morale and self-fulfilling prophecies.

Tag Goulet is co-founder of, a publisher of books on how to get started in a dream career, and Academic Director of the International Association of Professions Career College. To contact Tag visit


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