Help To Effectively Engage In Office Christmas Party Small Talk

“Most of us are very self-centered in these party situations, and think that everyone in the room notices that we have no one to talk to or knows that we feel uncomfortable,” says small talk expert Debra Fine, author of Beyond Texting and The Fine Art of Small Talk.  

In her book "The Art of Small Talk," there are definite DO's and DON'Ts to follow. 


1. Check the guest list, and learn names beforehand. 

2. Find someone standing alone, then go over and talk with them. They will probably welcome that gesture. 

3. Just like an office presentation. come prepared. Have a mental list of good questions to "what are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?" OR "what is your favorite gift of all time?"  

4. Show interest. That will set the table for engaging conversation that goes back and forth comfortably. 

5. You have to be real. People can spot the phony approach a mile away.


1. Don't talk too much. (This is especially difficult for us media types.) Let them talk about themselves, and listen with interest. 

2. Don't criticize. And avoid "piling on" when someone else does. The Holidays are a time to build up; not tear down. This is especially true at office parties. Take the high road and don't gossip. 

3. Don't get too personal. Like "where's your husband?" He could have just recently up and left. And whatever you do, don't ask the host, "did you make this?" Awkward. And rude. 

4. Don't get wasted; even if you have a designated driver. Party goers and/or coworkers may see a side of you they wish they hadn't. That reputation will follow you around for a while afterwards.

5. Don't "drop someone" when a bigger name comes in. Thoughtless. Which brings us to the next subject about mingling on to the next person. You need to know how to excuse yourself.


1. "Will you excuse me? I need to meet a friend."

2. "I think I'm going to go get some food. Can I bring you something?"

3. "It's been good talking to you." Especially effective with someone you do not really know. 

GOOD NEWS! You don't have to hand out too long. In fact, it's a good idea to limit your time to a maximum of 5 minutes, so you can work the room. Then, you can hang out longer, or leave early if you need to.


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