Nearly everyone will find themselves with an office party invite this holiday season. Whether it’s for you or your significant other, plan to go, have fun and use the event to your full advantage. Your biggest mistake this holiday season is seeing the holiday party as a party. Instead, this event can be one of the best networking opportunities you’ll have all year.

Here are some top tips for surviving the office holiday party:

  1. Strategy: It may seem innocent, but be strategic about the entire night. From what you wear to what you talk about and who you talk with. Holiday parties make the networking easy and accessible.
  2. Dress: Remember this is a work function so dress appropriately. Match your outfit to the venue of the party. Nothing too short, too tight, too low cut, etc. It’s a business dinner. To look sharp, mix business pieces with pleasure pieces. It also gives you a chance to show off some of your style.
  3. Plus one: It’s always nice to bring a significant other, but if you can’t, don’t be afraid to go alone. Be confident on your own and let it shine. The key is, you must go.
  4. Gifts: It never hurts to bring a gift. Some safe bets are a bottle of wine, even one that can be shared, a box of your employer’s favorite chocolates, etc. Think of something small that reminds you of your boss or that she is interested in. Something that shows you pay attention or will make her chuckle.
  5. Drinks: Drink and have fun, but limit it to just a few. Even better, find out what your manager is drinking and buy him a drink. You can have a drink or two to enjoy the event and loosen up, but you do not – I repeat you do not want – to be the person at the Christmas party that drinks too much, dances on the table and says stuff you shouldn’t.
  6. Conversation: Mingle! If it’s your work party, take your significant other around and introduce him to people. Take that opportunity to discuss his interest with others. It will show your personality in a different light. Using your significant other is a great way to relate to others you are unsure about. If it’s your significant other’s work party, help him make a good impression by starting conversations with people that he may not otherwise mingle with. Strike up an intelligent conversation with your manager about your husband and family. It makes things more personal.
  7. Table choice: You may be tempted to sit with your best friend and booze it up, but take the opportunity to sit with key people in the company. If you have a choice, try to sit next to your manager or even someone higher up. It gives you one-on-one time to talk about a particular business idea you have, etc. It will also break up the office cliques.
  8. Thank you: Because this is still a work function, make sure to send boss a thank you for the invite. Good wine. Great food. Even better company.

Mixing business and pleasure, can be tricky, but if you can do it successfully, you will surely make an impact and show your boss how you can handle a room full of people.