The Dos and Don’ts of Office Parties

I know, I know. It’s summer and it isn’t really prime time for office parties. But, as I’ve discussed before, my husband’s company is anything but normal. Instead of scheduling the festivities around the holidays, they take one week in the spring or summer to do some office bonding. This includes going paintballing, out to dinner, playing a little golf, etc (are you jealous yet?). It also means that near the end of the week there’s a lovely party for all of the staff and their significant others and/or a date of their choice.

Where was my invitation? This looks like a blast!

Where was my invitation? This looks like a blast!

Not only do they provide a delicious dinner with an open bar at a beautiful country club, but everyone goes bowling afterwards (hello clown shoes)! I mean, who could pass that up? The party is usually so fun (and held on a Thursday evening) that I even decided to take the next day off this year so I can truly enjoy myself and not feel like we need to rush home because I need to wake up at 6am.

Now, just because this isn’t technically my office, doesn’t mean the normal rules of party etiquette don’t apply. In fact, it’s just as important that I make a good impression as it is for my husband to do the same. Here are some dos and don’ts to make sure you put yours (and your significant others) best foot forward no matter whose office party you’re at!

Do dress appropriately. For women, this means don’t wear anything too short, too tight, or wear shoes you can’t walk in. Instead, stick with a classy little black dress, a sleek pantsuit, or a cocktail dress that isn’t too distracting or over-the-top. You want to look clean and well put together, not like you’re heading out to the club!

If the only dress you own is leopard print, doesn't cover your butt, or has been sitting in your closet since 1999, please buy something more appropriate!

If the only dress you own is leopard print, doesn’t cover your butt, or has been sitting in your closet since 1999, please buy something more appropriate!

Men, make sure you still look groomed and are wearing at least business casual attire. You can’t really go wrong with nice slacks, a (non-wrinkly) button-down shirt, and a jacket.

My rule of thumb is if you’re questioning whether or not it’s appropriate, it probably isn’t.

Do not take advantage of the open bar. Last year there was one date who went a little wild with the open bar. While it didn’t ruin the night by any means, it was the topic of conversation for a little bit. Don’t be that person who looks sloppy and is slurring their words. It’s unprofessional, inappropriate, and makes you (and your date) look silly.

Please, for the love of all things good, do not make-out with anyone!

Please, for the love of all things good, do not make-out with anyone!

Instead, enjoy a glass or two of your favorite drink with dinner while adding in some water.

Do make sure you know everyone’s names (or at least the most important people). Nothing is worse than walking into a party and not knowing anyone or their names. If you’re like me and you constantly forget names, ask your significant other to remind you of them beforehand. Worse comes to worse, make sure you at least know the important names like the CEO, VP, his/her direct manager, etc.

Do not try to talk up your significant other’s accomplishments. In a nutshell, no one really cares. You may think you’re being helpful and highlighting why he/she should get a promotion, but this isn’t the time or place. Everyone is trying to enjoy themselves so try to lay off the humble bragging and too much business talk.

Stop talking… Now.

Stop talking… Now.

Do enjoy yourself. Even though this is technically a business related function, you should still be having fun. Just make sure you’re doing it without being inappropriate or completely trashed. For example, when we go bowling it’s always a blast because we’re in formal clothes and those awful bowling shoes. Everyone just laughs and has the time of their lives. We all remember that it’s supposed to be a party, not a funeral. Laugh, eat, drink (a little), and have fun.

Do not forget to thank the person responsible for coordinating the party. I mean, they did put together a huge and wonderful party that you got to enjoy. Be polite and thank them for their generosity.

Now, it’s your turn. What other tips do you have for successfully attending an office party?

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Don’t Ban the Word Bossy, Teach Our Young Women and Men to Lead

The cycle goes something like this: A little girl starts giving people orders so she’s called bossy. She gets older and keeps giving people orders so she’s called a bitch. Then she gets even older and actually becomes the boss and she’s called a bossy bitch.

Bossy

It’s because of scenarios like this that Sheryl Sandberg, Beyonce, the Girl Scouts, and a slew of other high profile women have taken it upon themselves to try and ban the word “bossy.” They feel the word puts young girls down and stifles their ability to become leaders. More specifically, on the Ban Bossy website it says, “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a ‘leader.’ Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded ‘bossy.’ Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up.”

Now, they do have a point to some extent. I’m sure some young women keep quiet for fear of having any type of negative label placed upon them. Boys probably do the same thing from time to time. However, based on my concepts of leadership, the #banbossy campaign is missing two big points.

1. Bossy and leader are not synonyms. I’ll even prove it thanks to the help of definitions.

Bossy: fond of giving people orders; domineering.

Leader: a person who guides or directs a group.

So, that means that you can be bossy without being a leader. You can also be a leader without being bossy. Or, you might be a bossy leader which is totally acceptable too!

It’s quite possible, then, that the little girl who is ordering everyone around really is bossy, so why not use that word? By banning this term we’re making assumptions that every little girl or boy is showing leadership qualities. While that would be amazing, that’s most likely not the case. Instead of banning the word, we need to teach people how to appropriately use it. It’s called educating the masses!

2. Men encounter similar issues, but are called other derogatory terms that apparently are ok to use. Your male boss is most likely an asshole or a douchebag while your female boss is a bitch. The word leader is rarely used to describe either gender (unless they are actually showing leadership qualities). Even the term assertive often has a negative connotation applied to it. Again, this leads back to the idea that none of these words are synonyms. Still, if you’re a leader you’re a leader (young or old, male or female) and if you’re bossy, you’re bossy!

What We Need to Do Instead

education

Teach youth the difference between being a leader, being bossy, and just being plain old assertive. It’s all well and good that you want to use a hashtag to #banbossy, but instead why don’t we make our view a little more positive? We need to focus less on banning words like bossy and instead teach our youth how to be true leaders. Let’s #teachleadership or #empoweryoungwomen or #teachchildrenandadultshowtousewordsappropriately (sorry, I couldn’t resist). But what I mean by all of this is instead of highlighting the negative we should be trying to prevent young women and men from feeling disempowered in general. We need to create better leadership programs and utilize positive role models to instill in the next generation that it’s okay to stand up for your beliefs, be assertive, and lead.

Educate the population on how to correctly use these words to limit their negative usage. At the same time, let’s start a campaign that teaches everyone the real definitions of these words and how to appropriately use them. There’s nothing wrong with a little brushing up on your English here people! Maybe we could start our own hashtag revolution. #DefineYourself or #DefinitionArmy. No matter what the plan, we need to start highlighting the differences between the words we use to create a brighter population that can better embrace language and their own personality traits instead of being defined by what adults inappropriately call them.

Now, it’s your turn! What’s your take on the Ban Bossy campaign? Should we stop using the word altogether or redirect the campaign’s focus?

I Don’t Look Down On Other Women, I Raise Them Up (And I’m Not Sorry)

Recently, there has been a backlash against all types of women: stay-at-home moms, career women, fit women, childless women. One article making waves in the news, “I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Kids and I’m Not Sorry,” states that being married and having children is extremely average and not anything that should be celebrated. While I disagree (I think marriage and children are wonderful things to celebrate. As are promotions and welcome home parties from a wild trip around the world), I think the author was attempting to highlight the inequalities and double standards men and women are subjected to. The author believes women should be on equal footing with men and have the ability to choose more openly a lifelong career and adventure instead of supposedly being forced to stay at home.  However, she did a fairly poor job of getting that across. Instead, she demonized women who choose to raise families instead of being the breadwinner as though they are slaves with no active ability to choose their destinies. Newsflash: Many women want to be stay-at-home moms. They’re not being held captive.

This is tough work!

This is tough work!

On the other hand, we have also turned childless women into villains. As the author of the article Are the Childless Necessarily Selfish points out, some choice words to describe this bunch include “selfish, decadent, and irresponsible”. One blogger even went on to (somewhat apologetically) say she feels that her life with kids is harder than her childless counterparts (Do Parents Think They’re Better Than Childless Couples?). I don’t particularly agree with this either as you have no idea what struggles people are enduring. Just because someone doesn’t have a child to care for doesn’t mean they don’t have an elderly parent that they must care for, a husband with a mental or physical disability that would make having children difficult, or some other challenging life circumstance. To put it so black and white that being a parent is any harder than that childless couple you see on the street is just a little out of line (just like saying stay-at-home moms are average is out of line).

Childless

This doesn’t even begin to look at the other types of woman bashing such as the fit mom backlash (think Maria Kang’s “What’s Your Excuse” photo). One woman’s attempt to inspire other moms to get healthy (that is my opinion; “what’s your excuse” is a common phrase used to inspire others in the fitness community, not shame them) turned into a full on war of the words that showed just how incapable people are at looking at things from another’s perspective. It also highlighted how overly sensitive everyone is.  A simple picture with a simple phrase dug so deeply into people’s thoughts and emotions that others felt they were being shamed. Instead of thinking, “Wow, it’s amazing she can look like that with her crazy life as a mother of three” it immediately turned to “She must be a horrible mother who is selfish and cares more about herself than her family.” Two completely different viewpoints from one silly picture that led to a whole ton of criticism.

All of this brings me to the conclusion that most people are big jerks at one point or another and we all need to stop hating on everyone else. As a young, career driven married woman who is extremely into fitness and does not plan on having children, I find this constant bashing of other people’s lifestyles to be out of place and horrible. Instead of making me feel proud to be a strong woman, every corner I turn tells me I’m inadequate for one reason or another. And a lot of times it’s other women telling me this.

For example:

  • I’m 25 and married; that’s a plus.
  • I have a good job; you’re on your way to winning at life.
  • I’m 25 and I don’t have children; you’re a horrible person.
  • I have a good job, but I don’t own a house; you’re looking more like a failure every day.

The list can go on and on and on.

I want to make it known that many women have the choice to be whatever it is they want to be. It is totally possible to be a wife, working-mother, and fitness freak and still raise a wonderful family. My sister-in-law is doing just that. She’s a college professor, works part-time in a gym, and takes magnificent care of my niece and brother. I also want to point out that it’s just as great to be a working mom who is also a wife and not into fitness. My sister is exemplary at this. And then there’s my own amazing mother who was a stay-at-home mom who raised three wonderful children until she got sick and passed away from lung cancer. Kudos to her for having to deal with all of our friends too since we were the “go to” house. Then there’s me, a career woman who is also a wife and a fitness freak and doesn’t plan to have children. Four different women from the same family. Four different women who all chose different paths related to family, work, and health. Four different women who accept each other’s life choices because in the end, it doesn’t actually affect anyone else. These women are a large and important part of my life, but they do not live my life and therefore should have no real criticism about my choices.

My mother and I on our wedding days with my Uncle Andrew. We're spitting images of each other!

My mother and I on our wedding days with my Uncle Andrew. We’re spitting images of each other!

My family on my wedding day. My sister is on the far left and my sister-in-law is on the far right (and yes, we're a mini melting pot!)

My family on my wedding day. My sister is on the far left and my sister-in-law is on the far right (and yes, we’re a mini melting pot!)

So, from one woman to another (and to any man who helps reinforce these stereotypes), I ask that we all start accepting everyone’s personal life choices a little bit more. If you choose to be a stay-at-home mother, good for you! It’s something I would personally never want to do (for reasons I’ll explain in a future article), but I applaud those of you who choose this path as it’s no easy task. If you choose to be childless, that’s great as well. Thanks for knowing and understanding how your life works best and not bringing an unwanted child into this world. If you want to try and inspire others through fitness, or cooking, or knitting cool scarves, go for it! We should be helping each other rise, not bringing each other down.

Find your strong suit, make your life work in a way that makes you happy, and praise those around you for their own positive life choices even if they don’t mirror yours.  You’ll be surprised how much happier you are when you stop focusing so much on everyone else and do what’s best for you and your family. Just give it a shot and let me know how it goes. 🙂

Now, it’s your turn. How can we empower women to be the best they can be?

My Love/Hate Relationship with Snow

If you weren’t already aware, I’m a planner. I would plan out my whole life if I could (too bad my husband is the exact opposite so I get to practice a lot of patience). Thanks to wonderful Mother Nature, though, all my well thought out work plans have been completely turned upside down. While I looove having a random day off, it also totally puts me behind on my work and leaves me playing the catch up game. It’s great to be able to spend extra time with my family, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t also planning on how to get back in front of my to-do list.

That’s why I love and hate snow all at the same time. And now, to be perfectly honest, it’s becoming more of a hate/hate relationship. I’m praying for less snow and an early spring. Please, please bring on the sun (and my normal schedule)! Or maybe I just need to move to Florida.

My feelings exactly!

My feelings exactly!

The Holiday 15: How to Enjoy Office Festivities without Gaining Lots of Weight

It’s that time of year. Thanksgiving has passed and now cakes, cookies, and candy are lurking around every corner in every cubicle. You’ve probably already been invited to at least three different parties (whether it’s in the office or outside) and all you see everywhere is gingerbread cookies and eggnog.

This is the first thought you have when you hear it's the holidays!

This is the first thought you have when you hear it’s the holidays!

This is the hardest time of year for me because I have a serious sweet tooth. I want nothing more than to eat everything I see in front of me. At the same time, I’ve been working really hard towards my fitness goals and I don’t want to ruin them by loading up on 10 pounds of sugar cookies. So, here are 5 tips to help you enjoy the holidays without gaining all that excess weight!

1. Use the three bite rule. Instead of going crazy on all the desserts that are at your office holiday party, pick a few of your favorites and limit yourself to just three bites. This is great because you still get to taste the yummy desserts without all the guilt that comes with eating a piece of pie, six cookies, a cupcake, and drinking a hot chocolate (not like I would do that or anything -_-).

This is what I daydream about doing because I love sweets so much!But, this is the exact opposite of the 3 bite rule!

This is what I daydream about doing because I love sweets so much!But, this is the exact opposite of the 3 bite rule!

2. Offer to make a healthy option. Instead of bringing a dessert like eveyrone else, offer to bring a healthy snack option. Maybe you could make your vegetable platter look like Santa’s village or turn strawberries into cute winter hats. Or, bring a fruit dish that’s shaped like a… fruit dish. Any healthy treat will work no matter what shape or size it is! You could even check out Pinterest for some awesome ideas!
3. Bring in your own food and eat some of it before the party. Instead of starving yourself and then diving headfirst into all the goodies that people brought, bring in your own food. Eat some of it before the party so that you’re not as hungry when you get there. This will help you stop from binge eating like crazy once that sugar hits your lips.
4. Politely decline. I know this one isn’t going to be anyone’s favorite, but sometimes you just need to politely decline the invitation. If you’ve had your fair share of holiday parties and don’t want to eat another snowman shaped snack, there’s no harm in saying no. Your waistline will definitely be happy.
5. Make sure to keep exercising. Whether you decide to go crazy for the holidays or just attend one party with a few snacks, you have to keep exercising. Don’t let yourself get too lazy and fall out of your wonderful gym habits. Keeping up with exercising will help you continue to feel focused towards reaching your goal. So, get your butt back in the gym!

Now, it’s your turn! What’s your favorite holiday treat to bring to parties?

Girls Night Out: Apps At Your Favorite Hangout

You know what I miss most while being on my fitness journey? Nachos! I loooove nachos, and all appetizers for that matter. Give me the option of a plate filled with one type of cuisine or a plate filled with deep fried finger foods, I’m very likely to choose the latter.

I could probably eat this whole thing by myself and I wouldn't even feel guilty.

I could probably eat this whole thing by myself and I wouldn’t even feel guilty.

Which leads me to the newest girls night out idea! Head to your favorite hang out and instead of everyone ordering their own entrees order a bunch of appetizers! Not only does this let you get a lit bit of everything, I truly believe that appetizers let you socialize easier. Finger foods and tiny shared portions give you more opportunities to chat a little bit easier as it feels less formal. Any time I’ve done this with my friends the conversation just seems lighter and the atmosphere more fun! Plus, I don’t feel guilty having a little bit of everything because, let’s face it, one bite of something never killed anyone.

So, pick your favorite spot (you could class it up at a cute little BYOB or hit your local Applebees for apps on a budget) and grab your friends. Then, each one of you can pick a yummy app for all of you to share! Oh, I’m just imagining the possibilities and I’m already hungry. I think it’s time for me to send a group text message because after the week I’ve had with a sick husband and a crazy work schedule, I deserve some nachos! 🙂

Happy Birthday to the Man Who Inspires Me to Be Great!

Today is my amazing husband’s birthday. I just wanted to give him a quick shout out and thank him for always being supportive, silly, handsome, and a great reminder that I am always loved. You’re an amazing person and I’m glad I can be my true self around you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Yup, that's him. (And no, he doesn't actually smoke, but we were at a wedding and this is what happens when he's with his friends.)

Yup, that’s him. (And no, he doesn’t actually smoke, but we were at a wedding and this is what happens when he’s with his friends.)

So glad to have him by my side!
So glad to have him by my side!