Being a plus-one doesn’t have to be painful.
Attending your significant other’s work functions is, somewhat unfortunately, an unavoidable part of becoming an adult. Hopefully, if you’re both in career-track professions, you’ll be able to trade off your due diligence as the annual arm candy, but once it’s your turn, there is an understandable amount of pressure. You want to make him or her look equal parts competent, charming, and worthy of a sizable end-of-year bonus, and, perhaps most important, avoid guzzling too many rounds of Pinot Noir (or tequila shots if you work in media), irrevocably embarrassing both of you forever.
So, what exactly are the rules you should be following now that the holiday season is looming? As someone who has attended her fair share of awkward gatherings (including a black tie gala with a bunch of blue-blooded Manhattan attorneys), I’ve amassed a couple of tried-and-true tips for surviving even the most uncomfortable parties. Follow these four recommendations for stress-free festivities, and don’t forget to relax and have a little fun! It’s the best way to make an unforgettable impression.
1. It’s all about the greeting
Your partner is inevitably going to introduce you to dozens of people throughout the evening, most of whom you’ve never met before, so the first impression is everything. Nothing bugs me more than a limp handshake (or clammy hands, ugh), so keep your shake firm, short, and maintain some congenial eye contact. Also, don’t forget to repeat a new acquaintance’s name—it will help you remember after your first lap around the party.
2. Take the temperature of the room
Don’t forget that the company culture of every office is entirely unique, especially if you find yourself at an industry function that is way outside of your comfort zone (see above: a writer partying with lawyers). Feel free to wander through the crowd and gauge how formal the conversation is amongst the staff before launching into that story about your cousin’s rowdy bachelorette party in Vegas.
3. Leave your significant other to mingle
Since you’re a grown-ass lady now, you’ll have no problem detaching yourself from your partner’s side to chat with (read: impress) his or her coworkers. This allows your significant other to both work the room solo—critical for making those eleventh-hour deals and whatnot—and brag about how incredible you are to anyone within earshot. Plus, there’s likely other plus-ones around who would love to commiserate with you over free cocktails.
4. Keep it to a two-drink maximum for both of you
Sure, no one likes the party police, but it’s not worth cringing over Instagram videos of you or your partner doing body shots next to the copy machine either. A little liquid courage never hurt anyone, but limit your drink of choice to two and then switch to a seltzer with lime. That way, no one can accuse you of dipping out on the fun.
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