It’s that time of year when everyone you’ve done business with wants to host you at their end-of-year festivities. Invitations roll in for client parties, relationship-building lunches, supplier functions and industry and association events. Depending on the type of person you are, that pile of invitations can represent a fun-filled way to send the year out, or a fast track to burnout.
Either way, we can all benefit from approaching Christmas party season with some caution. Here, Dervla Ffrench, Business Development Manager for Corporate Traveller, shares some tips on how to make it through the month of festive parties.
How to: Network your way through a Christmas party
Approach Christmas party season as an opportunity to build your professional network by doing some preparation and putting a plan in place. Rather than turning a function into more work, planning ahead will help you to make the most of the networking opportunities on offer.
And it all starts with a little bit of research, says Dervla: “Find out what the event is about, what’s on the agenda if there is one, and see if you can get your hands on the guest list.”
Before you go to an event, prepare to network by setting a goal. It could be that you want to meet a certain person or collect so many business cards. Consider a few questions to ask to break the ice and practice your own elevator pitch.
Finally, in the days following the event while your meeting is still fresh in their mind, send your new contacts an email and connect with them on LinkedIn, says Dervla: “Simply wish them a Merry Christmas and say you look forward to exploring opportunities to work together in the New Year.
How to: Avoid overindulging
Christmas is usually a time of indulgence, but when you’re partaking in rich foods and alcoholic beverages for weeks leading up to the main day, it can take a toll on your health. Apart from the most common advice of avoiding alcohol on an empty stomach, there are some other useful tips to help prevent overindulging.
If there’s a buffet on offer, wander around the food table before putting anything on your plate, says Dervla: “By checking out all of your options first, you might be less inclined to pile on items one after another.”
After finishing your first serve, take a 10-minute break to let your body register that you’ve eaten. “Make conversation, drink some water and then recheck your appetite,” says Dervla. You might realise you’re full or want only a small portion of seconds, if any at all.
And where you settle into the room for conversation can make a difference too. If you stand next to the food table, for example, you’re more likely to mindlessly reach for food as you talk. “If you know you’re likely to graze continuously throughout the night without intervention, take gum or mints with you to avoid overdoing it,” says Dervla.
How to: Balance socialising with down time
Even if you’re used to attending functions, it can really ramp up at this time of year, says Dervla: “I usually attend a function once or twice a week, but in the lead up to Christmas it could be up to three or four. There are parties, client events, networking; daytime events, after work and night-time events too.”
Because they’re often held in your personal time, it’s important to find a balance between how many parties you attend and down time to ensure you make it through the busy weeks leading up to Christmas.
It can be helpful to bookend the function with some personal time, whether that’s spending time with family, meditating or doing something that relaxes you. You can fit this in before you head to the function, and if the night gets late, schedule some time in for yourself the morning after.
If you have a particularly busy week of parties and work, it’s important to balance out your socialising on the weekend, says Dervla: “Because the weeks can be busy with events and are very social, I spend down time on the weekend to balance it all out. I exercise and listen to podcasts and just generally recharge.”
How to: Handle Christmas parties when you’re an introvert
For introverts, attending an event can be both anxiety-inducing and energy-sapping. While introverts might prefer to spend time alone or with a quiet group of friends, parties and social events can sometimes be hard to avoid. However, there are ways to get through the function without loathing the whole experience.
“One of the key differences between introverts and extroverts is that introverts recharge their batteries by being alone, while extroverts tend to enjoy crowds and stimulation. While your extroverted friends are coming to the party to get energised, as an introvert you need to come prepared with your own fuel,” says Dervla.
Research the topic before you attend an event and familiarise yourself with some key points that can help you break the ice in conversation. Then start small and build up from there.
“Talk with a friend or someone you know first, and then include new people into the conversation by asking for their input on a topic you’re already discussing. This approach allows you to bring other people into your own conversations, which may be more comfortable for introverts,” says Dervla.
How to: Make the most of Christmas party season
Whether you go into December with RSVPs at the ready or you feel exhausted just thinking about the month ahead, you’ll enjoy Christmas party season all the more if you do it your way, says Dervla: “My key tip for making the most of the Christmas party season is to show up, be yourself and have fun.”
After all, ‘tis the season.