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A Hill Holiday Party How-To

HOH’s guide to navigating the next few weeks

This is a sign that it’s time for holiday parties. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
This is a sign that it’s time for holiday parties. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Elections are over, lawmakers are finishing up this Congress and it’s getting chilly in Washington. It’s time for holiday party season.

Next to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the holidays are one of the biggest excuses for people in D.C. to dress up, network and party.

Here’s our how-to list to make the most out of the many events starting this week.

We’ll post each week’s on Mondays and steer you toward the party of the day for the next few weeks.

Pace yourself

Holiday parties kick off as early as today and continue until the week of Dec. 12. That’s three weeks of nonstop, after-work events and these are not recess weeks.

Limit yourself to two or three parties a week, max. And if you are attending this many, don’t party too hard. You don’t want to be tired at work for three weeks straight. On your nights off from partying, hydrate, exercise and go to bed early. You won’t necessarily be eating healthy at these events, either, so make sure you’re eating healthy when you’re not there.

Invite a plus-one

Some of these parties allow for invitees to bring a plus-one. Take advantage of that, whether it’s a significant other, a co-worker, or a friend in the city.

It’s nice to have someone to work off of when networking. Don’t stand in the corner and only talk to your plus-one. Having a buddy allows for you to network easily in groups

But don’t let not having a plus-one stop you from attending. Be confident and you never know who you might know.

Make friends

Be open to talking to anyone. Most people who attend holiday parties are interested in networking. Maybe someone approaches you and your career might not be relevant to theirs — but you never know who people know or what they did in a past life. You might be surprised, and you might make valuable friendships.

And have plenty of your business cards on hand.


Dec. 6 is the most popular day for holiday parties. Don’t force yourself to choose just one when there’s a bunch on the same night.

Make a schedule that allows you at least an hour at each and map out where they are in relation to each other. For instance, start at a 5 p.m. party on the Hill if you’re a congressional staffer, then go to another downtown at 6:30 p.m. and end up at another near your apartment in Georgetown by 7:30 p.m.

Make it worthwhile

Some holiday parties will be hosted by a company or an office where someone you know works. In that case, go to that party. People will be happy you’re attending their work’s event and you’ll be able to meet more people through your connection.

Otherwise, be confident about branching out and give new things a try. You never know what you’ll get out of a party. And if it doesn’t pan out, go home and hope for the best tomorrow night.

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