Below is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Getting My Bounce Back: How I Got Fit, Healthier, and Happier (And You Can, Too). The book is available for pre-order and will be out in February 2018.
Day 257, December 11, 2014
“Don’t stop the party.”
–Pitbull, “Don’t Stop the Party”
I went to my first holiday open house of the season last weekend and took pleasure in getting ready in five minutes. All I needed to do was grab something festive from my closet and put it on. For the first time in years everything in there fits; some things a little loosely, although I’m fine with that, too.
So here are the two things I want to mention about holiday parties:
1. How you feel
2. How you look
I would say these are one and the same because how you feel is most of the time how you look.
Not a stroke of genius but so clutch this time of year.
Because holiday parties – whether they are work or social – are not really parties. Not the way a birthday party is a party or a Super Bowl party is a party or even New Year’s Eve is a party. Holiday parties are networking events to remind you at least once a year that you are alive and a social being whether at work or in the neighborhood and how much you need to put yourself out there.
Working the holiday party has never been more essential because in our day-to-day we are often tied to our computers and smartphones and barely step outside our cubes to talk with our colleagues. We have meetings via digital video conference or teleconference and telework in our PJs. Yeah, we’re all spokes in the wheels that make the world go round but in reality we’re all far removed from the hub.
The payoff of getting my priorities straight and focusing on me has always been about feeling good but it’s just not possible to disentangle the feeling of well-being from looking good.
It’s great when people who haven’t seen me in a year tell me I look good, but it’s even better socializing without being self-conscious or tugging at my waistband or otherwise fixing something that’s not right on my body. Or wrapping a pashmina around my shoulders and torso no matter how stylish or well made.
Deep in conversation with one of Lord Baltimore’s former colleagues, I was enjoying catching up with her, hearing about her children, and her hobbies. We were well into moving from subject to subject when she looked at me and said out of nowhere, “You look so amazingly awesome.”
She was noticing that I feel so awesomely physically good in contrast to how fatigued and out of shape and crappy I felt last year at this time.
And it’s the contrast of how I felt last year at this time that’s giving me the energy and the desire to get out there and socialize. I’m a mega extrovert but even extroverts need the right mojo to work a holiday party.
Karen Burns, whose Working Girl blog often untangles the common workplace mess, has some great rules to live by at both office and neighbor holiday parties. I’ve selected my favorites here and added some of my own bits of wisdom.
- Dress conservatively. Do you really want to be remembered as the person who wore a Santa hat with flashing twinkly lights?
- Don’t drink alcohol. Or don’t drink too much alcohol. You know the difference.
- Circulate. Don’t spend more than 10 minutes with any one person or group.
- Don’t be the first to leave. You do not want to give the impression that you’re just putting in an appearance.
- Keep your conversation positive and upbeat. It’s okay to discuss some business or politics, but try to keep it to a minimum.
- Don’t pig out at the food table. Moderation is good for your image as well as your waistline. Also, only choose food that you can eat easily and without making a mess.
- Chat with your boss. This is your chance to get to know him or her on a personal level.
- Don’t do anything memorable. If a week later, people are still talking about something you did or said, that is almost always a bad thing.
- Don’t wait to be properly introduced. It may never happen! Take the initiative and introduce yourself.
- Finally, remember that while they may call it a party you are not truly off duty whether in the neighborhood or at the office.
There’s a lot out there on how to get the most out of holiday parties, including going armed with a 60-second public service announcement about you. I’m not crazy about that idea, especially as an extrovert who is already trying hard not to talk too much, but I do want to make a strong case for putting in the effort to do what you need to do to feel good.
Because no matter how much time you put into finding the perfect holiday outfit, I don’t think you can do any better for yourself than arriving fit and light on your feet.