A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
More on Holiday Parties
Dear Sue: I'm invited to a "Holiday Drop-In" party this year. It
is at the home of one of the top executive's in our company. I've never
met his wife and have only met him briefly. Should I bring a gift for him
or his wife? I am not sure if it is necessary, but if I do, should I bring
wine, flowers, or something else?
– Dropping in
Sue Says: It is always a kind gesture to bring something to your
host when you are invited into a home, and if you would like to bring
something, I am sure it will be appreciated. However, under the
circumstances, it isn’t absolutely necessary. Would you consider bringing
a gift if the same event were at the office or some other neutral
location? I assume you feel as though you need to bring a gift because it
is in the home of one of the executives, however, I am assuming that this
executive is not expecting gifts from everyone who has been invited. A
“drop in” initiation is not the same as if you were invited to an intimate
dinner party, in which bringing a gift would be the right thing to do.
If you choose to bring a gift, don’t feel as though you need to spend a
lot of money on it, and don’t bring wine unless you know that this
executive and his wife will enjoy it. A box of candy or nuts, a small
fruit basket, a plant or flowers are relatively ‘safe’ gifts to bring.
Better yet, if there are several of you from your department attending,
consider asking others to pitch in and bring one gift from all of you.
Dear Sue: We are in the home building business. At Christmas,
our subcontractors give us "treats" to say thank you for all the business
we give them. Is it necessary to send a thank you for their thank you?
Sue Says: A thank you note is a nice gesture, but generally not
expected in return for holiday treats. Sending a note expresses your
sincere appreciation and I am sure it will be appreciated by the
contractors, and a pleasant surprise. No, it isn’t necessary to write a
note, but it is essential to say thank you.
Dear Sue: I liked your article on Holiday parties, but a lot of
the tips you gave were about what not to do, and were largely common
sense. How about some advice on what to do and how to keep involved
without being bored or boring?
Sue Says: I am happy to provide you with some things to do to
help make the holiday party successful, however, don’t be surprised if
these too, sound like common sense. Although common to many, more people
than you imagine are clueless about what is appropriate and need to have
the basic expectations reinforced.
The best way to avoid being bored or perceived as boring is to be a
good conversationalist, which can be achieved by being a good listener.
Take an interest in others, focus on the person you are with, ask open
ended questions and really listen to what people say. You will feel
involved if you move around the room, reach out to others and extend
yourself to people you do not know. Make sure you are comfortable
introducing yourself and introducing others. If you remain standing
throughout the event, not only will you appear more engaged and
approachable, but a byproduct will be that you will also maintain your
energy level. Have a few conversation “openers” in mind to break the ice
when talking with people you do not know well and keep the conversation
light; the weather, movies, travel, holiday plans, etc. are all safe
topics to talk about. Eat something before you leave home so that you
won’t be overly focused on the food. And finally, hold your beverage in
your left hand, keeping your right hand dry and free for greetings and a
firm handshake. Hope this helps!
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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