Many of the professionals Business Insider spoke to agreed on one thing: Work is a major topic to be avoided at the office holiday party.
Maestro Health CEO Rob Butler said to treat the festivities as a chance to get to know colleagues on a more personal level. "Encourage your employees to turn off 'work-mode' and learn about their coworkers' passions and hobbies," he says.
It's also important to warn your guests not to bring up jarring questions about work. As SAP software company executive vice president of HR Brigette McInnis-Day said, "Oftentimes, I find that employees' spouses or partners will ask me about opportunities for advancement or raise issues of concern at a holiday party. For example they'll ask about bonus achievements, stock options success, reorganization, or if their loved one will get a new opportunity they applied for and if they didn't get it, give feedback on how displeased they are. This is always uncomfortable, but even more so during a fun social event which is meant for people to relax and connect."
Senior vice president at career network Beyond Joe Weinlick explained that discussions revolving around work can make people feel uncomfortable."Never ask, 'When will that project be finished?' at your holiday party. The holiday party should be a fun event free from the stress of the job. Save shop talk for when you're back in the office."
So, if you can't talk about work with your colleagues, what should you talk about? LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher recommended doing some research in order to get the conversation flowing. "If small talk isn't your strong suit, feel free to look up your colleagues' recent activity on LinkedIn for potential topics of conversation."