Even if you're dreading your office holiday party, you still have to go. Here's your survival guide

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party sad!Strelka/FlickrKeep conversations light and not about work.

  • You might want to skip your annual holiday work party, but you really shouldn't.
  • Holiday work parties are a key way to show your colleagues and the company leadership that you're a team player and are invested in your company.
  • Luckily, you don't have to stay for the entire bash.

There are plenty of reasons you might be dreading your holiday work party.

Maybe you're stressed by upcoming the holidays, and need every minute you can get outside of work to plan and shop. Or maybe you just flat-out don't like your coworkers.

Regardless, Karen Wickre, author of recently published "Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert's Guide to Making Connections That Count," told Business Insider that you still have to go.

"It's more to get brownie points that you are a team player and you're in the mix," Wickre, who was previously an executive at Google and Twitter, told Business Insider. "If you never show up at company events, you lose brownie points."

Workplace expert Lynn Taylor agreed. Holiday parties are "major annual events - and there's more obligation to participate," she told Business Insider.

Read more: Tell us your funniest or weirdest office holiday party stories

Although you do need to go, you don't have to go for all that long.

The conversations at these events aren't likely to be substantial, so even if you attend the party for less than an hour or so, you're not missing out on an opportunity to pitch your big idea to the VP.

"It's more of a political event for the optics than a professional development opportunity," Wickre said.

Here are Wickre's tips for a short and sweet appearance:

  1. Arrive early (or late). Early is better.
  2. Have one drink in your hand, or just a glass of water.
  3. "Literally circle the space," Wickre said. Walk around with your trusty drink and say hello to your colleagues.
  4. Keep conversations light and not about work. It's going to be a lot of large group chats, so the conversation topics are more likely to be about, say, vacation plans, pop culture, the food spread, and so on.
  5. Greet the higher-ups, if you feel like it. But, again, don't say a word about work. Wickre recommended saying a quick thank you: "I love working here. I'm so excited about next year and what you're doing." Or, "I can't wait until we show you our plan on Tuesday, but tonight we're just celebrating."
  6. Get out of there. "Once you've been seen enough, you can go."

If you're looking to integrate yourself a little more into your coworkers' lives, Wickre recommended meeting up with a few folks from your team before heading to the party together. Who knows, you might even have fun.

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