Office Party Dates

Women's Dating

6 Do’s and Don’ts for Office Party Dates

Mackenzie Buck

Written by: Mackenzie Buck

Mackenzie Buck

Mackenzie Buck is a freelance writer and digital nomad. She earned a master's degree with distinction from the University of Manchester. Her relationship advice has been featured on the New York Post, among other publications. She has worn a variety of hats in the digital marketing space over the years and is excited to bring her unique voice and storytelling chops to DatingAdvice.

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Edited by: Jon McCallister

Jon McCallister

Jon came to DatingAdvice in 2016 with more than 15 years of editorial experience behind him. He has experience editing, writing, and designing at numerous publications, including the Gainesville Sun. Jon enjoys researching emerging trends and seeking out the companies, organizations, and individuals making an impact in the modern world of dating. He excels at working closely with writers and editors to improve the quality of online content.

Reviewed by: Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks

Amber Brooks is a dating and relationship expert who has penned over 1,800 lifestyle articles in the last decade, and she still never tires of interviewing dating professionals and featuring actionable advice for singles. She has been quoted by the Washington Times, Cosmopolitan, The New York Post, and AskMen.

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Discuss This! Discuss This!

I’ll always remember one December —  fresh out of college and a four-year relationship — a guy I had met on a night out asked me to be his date for his company’s annual Christmas party. Horrible at small talk and terrified of jumping into another relationship too soon, I said no. Looking back all these years later, however, I regret it. 

Why? Because I know now that a holiday party invite doesn’t have to mean anything serious. In fact, a DatingAdvice poll found 26% of Americans would never show up to a holiday event solo, no matter how long they’ve been with their respective partner. Office parties can be fun and fruitful — if you know how to do it right! Check out our list of office party dos and don’ts to ensure you step into this event fully equipped with the knowledge to make the night a massive win. 

1. Do Practice Your Small Talk Game

I’m experiencing a full body cringe as I type this, but here’s the cold, hard truth: Being able to engage in small talk is one of the most important skills you can bring into your adult life, much less a holiday gathering. A discussion about the levels of consciousness and a deep dive into your darkest fears may make for a more interesting evening. But when it comes to office parties, being a good date is a lot less about being interesting and a lot more about being appropriate. 

Making small talk at an office party is essential.

That said, take some time to add some relevant, non-controversial topics to your small talk arsenal by brushing up on the news, having yourself a little TikTok scroll, or even chatting to an in-the-know friend who can share some knowledge nuggets with you. You’d be surprised how far a couple of pop culture references can take you.

2. Don’t Stay a Wallflower All Night

As tempting as it may be to keep your head down and sip on eggnog until the office party clock strikes midnight, doing so could end up being a disservice to you and your date. From your perspective, you miss out on an opportunity to tap into an entirely new network of people that you may have never been around. And from your date’s perspective, you aren’t doing the one job you were enlisted to do: Make them look good in front of their bosses and coworkers. 

So, take a couple more swigs of your beverage and prepare to break the ice. This means putting in the effort to mingle with other party guests, participating in any group activities or games, and being willing to hold separate conversations from your date while they go off and do their thing. You may have to endure some less-than-smooth encounters along the way, but just think: You may never see these people again (and if you do, it’ll likely not be until around this time next year). 

3. Do Establish Expectations With Your Partner

It doesn’t matter if you’ve been dating three weeks, three years, or you consider yourselves off-and-on FWBs — communicating about the expectations of an office party can mean the difference between a successful night out and an uncomfortable one. 

Talk to your date before the event to learn what to expect and how to conduct yourself.

Make sure you and the person inviting you set aside time to discuss key details. This means deciding on if you’re going to ride together or drive separately, doing a run-down of which party guests to talk to versus which ones to avoid, and preparing an exit plan for when you hit your small talk overload. 

Crystal clear communication ensures that you’re both on the same wavelength and can get through the night with limited surprises. 

4. Don’t Bail in the Middle of the Party Without Warning

I know plenty of people who love executing Irish Goodbyes. But I don’t know a whole lot of people who love being on the receiving end of them. It’s typically rude to leave a gathering without letting anyone know, especially (and it’s wild to me that this needs to be said) the person who invited you. 

If you need to remove yourself from the gathering for any reason — whether it’s because you’ve had one too many glasses of champagne, you’re feeling tired, or you’re just plain uncomfortable — be upfront with your date before hitting the exit. Otherwise, you could leave them stuck in an incredibly awkward and frustrating situation. That’s a little too bah-humbug for this joyful time of year, if you ask me. 

5. Do Talk Up Your Partner to Coworkers and Bosses

Would it make you feel great if you were the life of the party, made six new friends, and found a new teammate for your Tuesday night pickleball league? Absolutely. But it’s important to remember that, ultimately, this event is not about you. 

Feel free to sing the praises of your partner to coworkers and bosses.

You were invited to the office party as a plus one. This means that your date is trusting you to be there not just as a partner, but also as a support system. You’re serving as a hype man to talk them up in front of a corporate audience.

Use this party as an opportunity to sprinkle in some compliments, highlight your date’s achievements, and share stories that paint them in a positive light. Who knows? You could play a part in them landing that big promotion they’ve been hustling for! 

6. Don’t Complain About Work-Related Issues

I know what you’re thinking: “What better place to vent about the trials and tribulations of the capitalist nine to five than a room full of people who work a nine to five?” But I’m here to urge you to reconsider. Nothing brings down the festive vibe of a holiday gathering like a discussion about company-wide layoffs, your office’s rigged parking policy, or the new manager whose voice you can’t stand. Save the negative topics for another time and stick to something light. 

Pro tip: If you feel things going south, pull out some pics or videos of your pets. Nothing like a kitten sitting in a teacup to steer things in a positive direction. 

Good Things Come to Those Who Prepare

Will this party be the event of the year that you and your date reflect on for months and years to come? Probably not. And does attending this party mean that you and your partner are on the fast track to something serious? Not necessarily. But it can be a successful night for the both of you, regardless of how the relationship turns out.

With preparation and clear communication, you and your date can carve the path for a night of good impressions, fun conversations, and (hopefully) some memorable photo booth snapshots.