Let me start out by noting that none of this is rocket science. It is pretty much common sense. But no matter, we will still see some holiday party train wrecks.
Top 10 things to do/not to do at firm (or company) holiday party (not necessarily in order, but HP has a lot to do today:
10. Fail to RSVP -- in a large organization it may not be noticed, but in smaller ones, it may be noted as rude or especially inconsiderate if, say, someone is hosting at their home.
9. Dressing inappropriately. Unless it is black tie, suits are fine for men. The women tend to get into more trouble here since there's more ambiguity. Low cut (read: bosoms hanging or more than a bit of cleavage) will get you noticed in the wrong way. For guests, you may wish to advise similarly, since for years, people at one firm I know discussed a partner's wife and her hanging boobs and the xmas party of 1999?
8. Sitting/hanging with people you always hang with. You guys and gals know that HP wouldn't like this. The point is to get out and mingle. Introduce your guest; make polite small talk. It helps to have a guest who is outgoing but at a minimum, seems pleasant and don't say anything to piss off someone (e.g. ,a guest once insulted HP's spouse).
7. Wild dancing. At some parties, everyone is dancing. At others, just staff. You need to kind of judge this for yourself. The safe side is probably not to dance since so many of us look dumb. In any event, NO DIRTY DANCING. Yes, I have seen this one myself. Of course, alcohol can be a factor; you know that is coming later.
6. Bringing your kids Unless kids are invited (sometimes there are kids holiday parties), do not bring your children -- small or big -- to a firm party. I am still perplexed by colleague who brought teen son (and wife) to black tie party. Teen son then proceeded to best-friend bartender and drink illegally. Seemed odd and was very noticed.
5. Hook up with co-workers. Please do not do the heavy flirt/obvious pick up at the holiday party. We may not know what goes on after hours, but attorneys and staff cavorting in front of us do not help your profile. Co-attorneys may be a different issue and of course many issues involved there -- supervising attorney or not, etc. The bottom line is, keep the sexy stuff out of the holiday party.
4. If clients are attending, be on special guard. Pleasant, cheerful, stay away from controversial topics, etc.
3. Do thank the organizers of the party if you know who they are, it never hurts.
2. Don't gossip about others in the mens/ladies restrooms; you never know who is in the stalls!
1. You knew this one was coming -- don't get toasted. DON'T DO IT. People, remember. It is unprofessional and can lead to a violation of several of my no nos above (e.g., hookups). Just because the liquor is complimentary does not mean this is the frat house. You can drink but take it easy and stop early. A DUI would be a very bad career move; being a loud drunk is also a bad career move; hurling at the holiday party similarly not the best career move.
-- I should have made number 1 to Attend -- but this varies -- assuming lawyers do go and it is not a 98% staff function -- yes, you should attend.
Have fun, be safe, and network!