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When you think of holiday office parties, you probably think of eating, drinking, dancing… and awkward conversations. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Keep these questions in your mind to take the stress out of making small talk, and to make hanging with your colleagues a little more interesting.

  1. “What [movies, podcasts, TV shows] have you been into lately?” Entertainment-related questions are always a good way to get to know someone better, and to pick up some new recommendations.
  2. “How is your holiday season going?” Sure, inquiring about someone’s holiday season may be expected, but it’s also an easy way to open up a conversation. Resist the temptation to ask, “Big plans for the holidays?” because that may lead to a yes or no answer, which is the quickest conversation stopper. Always ask questions that are open-ended to give the person a chance to respond more in-depth.
  3. “What are you drinking?” This is one of the easiest and best icebreakers! One’s choice of drink can say a lot about their personality, especially if they’re wine drinkers.
  4. “Where did you grow up?” Go beyond the usual work banter and get to know your office mate’s background a little more. Who knows? You may find you have more in common with that person than you see on LinkedIn.
  5. “I’ve been meaning to meet you. May I quickly introduce myself?” The rule of the thumb at an office party is 80% social, 20% work. This means it’s perfectly acceptable to talk about work during a party as long as you keep it brief. If there’s someone you’ve been meaning to network with, wait for the right moment (which does not mean interrupting their conversation with someone else, or following him/her into the restroom!), introduce yourself — and don’t overstay your welcome.
  6. “Tell me about some of your favorite moments this year.” Asking about one’s best memories of the year puts a positive spin on the question of, “How was your year?” People like talking about things they’re proud of.
  7. “What are you looking forward to next year?” Avoid typical questions about New Year’s resolutions. Instead, ask about what they’re most excited for in the year ahead.
  8. “If you could invite one celebrity to a dinner party who would it be?” Asking a fun question lightens the mood and ensures an out-of-the-ordinary conversation.

Bonus tip: If you get cornered, a nice way to excuse yourself is to ask, “Have you tried Bota Box wine? It’s my favorite. Excuse me, but I need to refill.” And then make your way to the bar, order a new glass of Bota Box — and find someone new to meet.