Nearly every office has their version of the Holiday Party Cautionary Tale. Passed down from year to year, the Cautionary Tale is etched into office lore as deeply as the history of the company. And no matter what they do the remainder of their tenure, they will always be “The One.” The One who flirted outrageously/danced too suggestively/drank too much/declared passionate love for a coworker.

Don’t be The One.

Follow these tips, and you will be able to return to your desk on Monday with your head held high and your reputation intact.

Alcohol is not your friend. Don’t drink more than two drinks at the party. As we all know, alcohol lowers inhibitions, and the office party is not the place for unconstrained chatter or behavior. You don’t want to loosen your tongue to the point that you begin expressing frustrations about your lack of a raise to anyone who will hear, or complaining about your supervisor. And you certainly don’t want to drink so much that the HR Director pays you a visit armed with Alcoholics Anonymous brochures.

Put the elections behind you. During presidential election years, we all become armchair political pundits. But going on and on about the evil/stupid/uninformed/misleading the “other side” is not smart. Even if you find someone who agrees with you, you are bound to be overhead by someone who doesn’t. If there’s anything this year’s ugly political battle taught us, it is that people take politics seriously. Don’t alienate your colleagues with polarizing debates.

Go ahead and dance – but don’t put on a show. You may have the moves like Jagger, but this ain’t the time to show them off. Moderation is key here.

Don’t be creepy and over-familiar. Throwing your arm around random coworkers and invading their space? Bad move. Telling x-rated jokes? An even worse move. And, for the love of Pete, remember that your supervisor is still your manager. Don’t ask inappropriate questions about how her marriage is doing, or how she has managed to stay at the company for so long. The holiday party is a great time to build and enhance partnerships. Don’t act in a way that might deteriorate those relationships.

Your office party is not a singles bar. We get it, okay? It’s hard to meet eligible men. And you and That Guy have been flirting over the water cooler for weeks now… but proceed with caution. Nothing good comes from taking things to the next level at the office holiday party in front of all your gawking coworkers. If – despite the well-known concerns of dating a co-worker, you still intend to give it a try – take the leap of faith the day after the party.

Remember: The office party offers a unique opportunity to bond with superiors and colleagues. But don’t blow it. What you do and say will be under scrutiny – so look at the office party as you would any other networking opportunity.

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