The Ultimate Holiday Party Survival Guide (Slideshow)

Holiday Party Survival Guide

But we've put together a foolproof holiday party survival guide so you won't be sweating through your festive ugly Christmas sweater this season. From knowing what to bring to learning how to make small talk and meet new people, here's what you need to know. So kick up your stockings, follow this guide, and have a ball this year at every holiday party without any worrying.

What to Wear

'Tis the season to be festive, so dress accordingly. Most parties you're invited to won't have a dress code, but you should still dress to impress. To be on the safe side, women should wear cocktail dresses and men should wear nice slacks and a dress shirt. But, it is the holiday season, so don't be afraid to break out your ugly Christmas sweaters, Santa hats, and tree light necklaces. A little seasonal touch will take your outfit from everyday party wear to holiday party-ready in an instant.

What to Bring

You can never go wrong at any party by bringing a bottle of wine, but shake things up this holiday season by bringing a six-pack of a winter craft beer for guests to share. As for what to give the host of a party, a small holiday-themed gift such as an ornament or decorative figurine shows your gratitude and can become a favorite decoration for years to come.

Socializing for the Shy

Even if you're the type who typically avoids going to big gatherings, sometimes a holiday party is an inevitable engagement you can't get out of. If the idea of small talk, mingling, and meeting new people terrifies you, know that the best way to be a good conversationalist is to be a good listener. Ask people about themselves and be sure to hear what they're saying and ask follow-up questions. And, if the hustle and bustle of a busy party gets to be too much for you, don't be afraid to take breaks from the action by stepping outside.

How to Avoid Drinking Too Much

Nobody wants to be the drunkest person at any gathering, especially if it's your office's holiday party or another engagement with co-workers. So drink responsibly. Be sure to eat something before you start indulging and stay hydrated by swapping out your cocktail for water every now and then. It's also responsible to avoid caffeine, sugary mixed drinks, and mixing liquor with wine and beer, as all of these things can make you lose track of the effects of alcohol.

How to Avoid Eating Too Much

Everyone knows that the holiday season can be a disaster for your waistline, so try not to overindulge this winter. Drink plenty of water during the party to keep your stomach full. And, when it comes to the party buffet, take very small portions of everything that you want to try. It's also important to eat slowly to allow your body time to digest. By following these simple tips, you can taste all of the delicious seasonal foods without sacrificing your diet.

Be the Best Secret Santa

If the holiday party you're attending will be having a group gift exchange (e.g., Secret Santa, Yankee Swap), know how to be the best Kris Kringle this side of the North Pole. If there's a price range on the gifts you'll be giving, buy a present at the top of the range (or slightly above) — nobody likes a Scrooge. As for what to purchase, go with a seasonal present or something that is universally liked and needed such as a Starbucks gift card with a travel mug.

Keeping Kids Happy

If you'll be bringing the little elves along with you, be sure to keep them entertained so you can mingle with people your own age. Don't forget board games, holiday movies, and activity books to keep the children from getting bored in an instant. Also, if you don't know what kind of food will be at the party, bring kid-friendly snacks with you so they're not forced to eat fruitcake and casseroles

Exiting Gracefully

If you're an introvert who gets your fill of company long before a party is over or if you're simply just exhausted from the holiday season, know how to duck out without seeming like a holiday-hating Grinch. If you know you're going to want to leave early before you even arrive at the party, be sure to let the host know when you greet them by offering up a small yet believable excuse such as, "Just so you know, the babysitter could only stay until 9:30, so I'm going to have to leave a little early." As you leave, seem sad to go and don't forget to say goodbye to everybody and thank the host for a wonderful time.