Office Party Etiquette for the Boss

Much has been written about how to behave, how to avoid embarrassment and how to dress properly for male and female employees. Little consideration has been given to the CEO, boss or manager who finds himself or herself in a delicate situation at any office party, whatever the occasion.. Here are a few tips and rules to facilitate clear sailing with authority and dignity intact without being considered a stuffy shirt.

office party

Purpose of the Office Party

Generally speaking, there are two occasions for an office party: one is seasonal, most notably Christmas and sometimes the New Year. The other is special occasions like retirement of an employee, anniversary of the boss, firm or a long time employee. Depending on the size of the company, there may be departmental parties as well as big ones for the entire company or the local branch.

Whatever the occasion and whatever the size and number of guests, someone will always be the superior and the boss and it’s up to him or her to make the party a success. Although the boss won’t personally organise the festivities, he or she is the centrepiece and focus of attention.

Dress Code

Whether the boss is male or female, its imperative to dress appropriately. One of the reasons is, that employees tend to view the office party as a major possibility to further their own career by trying to corner the boss and making a lasting impression which might lead to promotion or a pay rise. Needless to say, that these attempts often get out of hand, particularly when a glass too many is involved and the boss needs to know how to fend off these attempts without causing embarrassment or offense. One of the ways to achieve that is by using dress as an invisible barrier. The clothes should convey, that the boss is indeed the boss. Clothes should never appear stuffy but shouldn’t encourage intimacy either.


A boss must never forget that office parties, from the viewpoint of the employees, are an occasion to get closer with people who are normally at a distance. That’s why the boss is always the centre of attention. Office politics are often vicious and so is gossip. Employees would love nothing better than catch out the boss getting plastered or in a compromising situation with the office junior. Excessive consumption of alcohol is not an option for the boss at any office party. The trick is to appear drinking without actually doing so. A full glass must be kept in the hand at all times and, if called for, a sip must be taken with anyone the boss is talking to. Nobody will notice how much or rather little is really drunk and the boss won’t ever lose control.


Office parties are an occasion to socialize and to get to know the person behind the job title. That’s the nice aspect of any office festivities. The boss will thoroughly have done his or her homework and will therefore be able to have a few personal words and questions for each of the guests show, that he/she cares about them. It’s also a brilliant occasion for the boss to scrutinize his employees’ behavior and secretly assess potential for promotion.

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