How to Survive (& Even Enjoy) Your Spouse’s Holiday Work Party

I’ve gone to  all of my husband’s holiday work parties, except for one. My now 6-year-old was a newborn, so I opted out. This year, we’ve already lined up the sitter for his job’s holiday shindig. I enjoy the party and am happy to be his plus one. It’s good for me to brush up on my social skills since I work from home and don’t have as much adult interaction as I’d like. But, I always remind myself that it’s a work event and to follow these tips to make sure that we have a good time (without any regret the next day!). Here’s what I do; maybe one of these ideas will work for you, too!

1. Get the DL before you get there. Every office has its politics and power plays. On the drive in, I ask my husband to update me on any workplace disagreements, important personal achievements, or big work campaigns. This way I can keep up with the party chatter and make relevant small talk and congratulate Suzy on her promotion or James on the new addition to his family.


2. Dress like you’re going to work (with a festive twist). I see this faux pas every year at my husband’s holiday celebration. Yes, it’s a party, but it’s a party with your co-workers. That means nothing too tight, too short, or too low-cut. You can look hot but elegant. As for guys, it never hurts to dress up a little, even if your workplace dress code is casual. Some workplace holiday parties have a recommended dress code. Make sure to follow it.

3. Don’t get wasted. The most popular spot at my husband’s work party is the bar. Even drinks are on the house, remember that you’re an extension of your spouse at the party. Don’t let any drunken shenanigans become the water cooler talk the next day. You don’t want to let it slip that your spouse dislikes a certain co-worker because the drinks loosened your tongue.

4. Don’t reveal too much personal information. Unless you trust the co-worker 100 percent, don’t reveal anything too personal about your marriage or family life. This all depends on your spouse’s work environment, of course. Follow your spouse’s lead on these types of conversations or ask beforehand. Office politics can be brutal and you don’t want to unwittingly give co-workers any fodder.

5. Go in with a few code words or signals. I’m terrible with names, especially when I only see my husband’s co-workers once or twice a year. So we have a system. If I don’t say the person’s name within 15 seconds (approximately), my husband will re-introduce us: “Tara, you remember my wife Kim, don’t you?” If he’s stuck in a conversation, he gives me a certain look and I’ll help extricate him. Mostly importantly, have a code/excuse for ditching the party. I usually take the blame and say that I’m too tired or I have to get up early the next morning (all true). Of course the easiest is to say we have to relieve the sitter.

6. Ask questions and listen. I’m an introvert, so starting conversations with people I barely know is challenging. I don’t expect my husband to be at my side the entire party, so I have a few tricks to keep awkward pauses from filling up a conversation. The secret is asking questions. Most people love talking about themselves and their lives. After the usual pleasantries about work are exhausted, ask them about the last movie they’ve seen, book they’ve read, or even talk about their pets.

Now to figure out what I’m going to wear to this year’s bash!

How do you survive your spouse’s holiday work party?