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Should you bring a partner to your company holiday party?

Holiday party 

One year, I had the uncomfortable experience of standing with my co-worker's husband at our company holiday party while she went to the restroom. He was plastered and telling an extremely inappropriate tale about his naked fishing trip not only to me but also to his date's manager. It was awful!

But there's also an upside to bringing your partner to a company holiday party. Whether most people realize it, company holiday parties are a key time for your partner to feel part of your work life.

Here's how to balance the risk and rewards of bringing a partner/spouse/date to your office holiday party, with some great input on this debate from Karsten Jonsen is a Research Fellow at IMD business school.


* Integrating work and home: The holiday party is an excellent occasion for your spouse to meet the people with whom you are spending so many hours working. Furthermore, having your spouse next to you may prevent weaker souls from ending up in what might be regrettable the following morning. Your spouse may turnout to be a life jacket when the others start drowning in the holiday punch.

Showing off: Having others meet or chat with your ‘trophy’ could provide respect, glory and, who knows, maybe even a promotion. Wouldn’t it be nice to think so?

* Multi-tasking: Going to the holiday party as a pair is a great way to spend more time with your partner and your co-workers at the same time. 

Now the risks:

*  It could make you anxious. The what-ifs run amuck! What if your partner is loose-lipped and mentions something you’d rather your colleagues didn’t know about? What if your partner (accidentally, oops) drinks too much? Both, dangerous situations for internally marketing yourself in the company. Is your partner likable? You don’t want your chances for promotion to be harmed by the misfortune of a boss or colleagues who do not particularly like your partner.

* You could lose schmoozing time.  During the 3 to 4 hour event, time goes to waste in introducing partners and making small talk. The valuable time that is lost could have been better invested in getting to know colleagues better – and kissing up to the boss.

* Adding another to-do.  During the busy days leading to the end of the year, people value spending time at home. The holiday season, with all its joy also comes with a lot of stress.The company party demands another time slot, in an already busy period. Will your partner find this an inconvenience?

To me, the worst is leaving your partner behind when everyone else has a date. I think it sends the message that your spouse isn't supportive, regardless of what excuse you give for his or her absence.  I really like holiday parties that include spouses. What about you?

Do you think holiday office parties should be just for employees? Does your spouse/partner give you a hard time about going to your company holiday party? Do you think taking your partner to the company holiday party makes integration of work and home easier the rest of the year?