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How to Behave at The Company Summer Party

Most of the time, the "rules" for summer parties and backyard barbecues are pretty simple: just have fun, be yourself, and relax. These rules are great for gatherings among friends and family members. But company parties and neighborhood gatherings are not the same. When your company sponsors an employee day of fun or an outdoor barbecue, make no mistake:you're still at work. You're outside and you're holding a cold drink in your hand, but you're still in the office, you're still on the clock, and everything you do and say will find its way into your next performance evaluation, directly or indirectly. So behave yourself. Keep these 10 rules in mind.


Attendance to the company summer party may not be mandatory, but go if you can attend. Your absence will be noted and may be judged, so keep this in mind before you decide to stay home.

Make fun a priority (but not for yourself)

There are times and places to put yourself and your own enjoyment first, but during company-sponsored parties you should make sure others are having a good time.  Your direct reports and those who fall below you on the company hierarchy are especially important in this context.

Take care of other guests

If your coworker is standing alone and looking uncomfortable, come to the rescue. Provide introductions, facilitate access to food and drinks, and suggest fun activities. Be the entertainment; don't wait to be entertained.

Leave your group

No matter where you stand on the company ladder, you probably have a close cadre of friends who will form a tight circle the moment the party starts.. Break out and take the opportunity to mingle with others who you don't know as well.

Don't eat or drink too much

Remember, you're being watched and judged at every moment of the company summer party. It's easy to eat or drink too much when we're nervous. Don't drink too much alcohol for obvious reasons. Enjoy the food, but save it for your other coworkers too. 

Wear appropriate clothing

Summer dresses and khaki trousers are suitable for almost any daytime company gathering during the summer, whether it takes place indoors or outside. We can't say the same of crop tops and inappropriate graphic tees. 

Behave yourself around the pool

Unless your host actively encourages guests to enter the pool, the answer is no, you cannot get in. No matter how inviting it looks, or how hot you are, avoid it. Allowing guests to swim is a liability for the host, so be mindful of that. Just pretend the pool isn't there during the company summer party.

Wear sunglasses

Sunglasses oil the social gears by hiding the direction of your gaze. This helps you keep your thoughts and feelings to yourself, and prevents a goofy squint.

Be positive

Summer parties are not the place to complain about work, grumble about stress, start political battles, or rattle off a list of health problems. Keep your remarks positive, calm, and friendly.

Thank your host

No matter where the party takes place, determine who sponsored, planned and arranged it, and thank that person (or people) personally. Do this before you leave.

Make a breezy, collected, and work-appropriate impression at your company summer party and you'll strengthen your reputation as a competent professional. For more on how to get ahead and stay ahead, use the resources at MyPerfectResume.

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