10 Things Not To Say at Your School Staff Holiday Party

Because what happens at a school holiday party doesn’t necessarily stay at a school holiday party.

Collage of passed out Santa and two women gossiping with text 'I'm soooooo drunk!' and 'Did you hear about ...?

The staff holiday party. You either love it or hate it (or you’re asking yourself, “What’s a staff holiday party?”). At its best, the staff holiday party is a great opportunity to let loose and enjoy time with colleagues. That being said, there are some pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. I’m here to help with this list of things NOT to say at a school holiday party.

“I’m soooooo drunk!”

Having been that person (hey, 20-something Kimmie loved her some chardonnay, OK?), I beg of you not to be that person. Because the number-one cause of staff holiday party drama is too much alcohol. By all means, partake if that’s something you enjoy, but don’t get sloppy. No one wants to hear your tearful rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” or reach over the top of the bathroom stall to open it because you locked yourself in and are passed out next to the toilet (there’s a reason this is so specific). Plus, you have to face all these people again.

“You know, I’ve always had a bit of a crush on you.”

Everyone loves a “teacher marries teacher” story, but the school holiday party is not the place to hit on your co-worker. Just because you’re not at work doesn’t mean you’re not at work, you know? If your interest is genuine, then make sure you know your school’s policy on dating/relationships and at what point they should be reported. Our advice columnist Kelly Treleaven suggests, “Even if your school gives the green light on non-problematic workplace romances, proceed with caution.”

Also not the time to ask your para to introduce you to her hot single son. Sorry.

“Did you hear about Mr. Brown? He’s getting divorced!”

Eek. Is there ever a time when it’s appropriate to gossip at work? I love a juicy morsel as much as the next person, but that doesn’t make it right. At the very least, we can commit to keeping the school holiday party gossip-free. We all have personal stuff going on that we wish others would keep out of their mouths. Positive and upbeat conversation is the name of the game tonight.

“My kids really bombed their Greek mythology test.”


As teachers, we tend to blur the lines between our work and our personal lives. It’s just who we are. But there’s something to be said for boundaries. Give yourself and your colleagues the gift of not talking about work for one night.

“Wow! Smoking hot dress, Betty!”

Some people are just creepers, but typically, these kinds of comments are meant as compliments. Remember that you’re responsible not just for your intent but your impact as well. You don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. Because you know what’s not very merry? Sexual harassment. That’s why my two cents is to avoid making comments of any kind about anyone’s appearance. “Cute bulletin board,” on the other hand, is just fine.

“I can’t believe that trash got elected to the school board.”

For the love of all that is holy, do not talk politics or religion.

“Just got my National Boards bonus. Cha-ching!”

Money is another topic to be avoided at the holiday party. With the way teacher salaries work, this isn’t as much of a minefield as it is in, say, a corporate environment, but it’s still a no-no.

“Can I give you a ride home?”

I got this one from an etiquette expert, and it surprised me at first. Seems well-meaning, right? No one wants anyone to drive home drunk. Well, it turns out it can come across as overbearing. Business Insider recommends something like “I hate driving home after a party, don’t you? Let’s call it a night and call an Uber.”

“I’m quitting over break. Shhh.”

I know the temptation is strong here, especially with more teachers leaving the profession than ever before. But don’t do it. A school holiday party is not the time to divulge sensitive information like this. It’s unprofessional to quit in this way, and even if you tell your co-workers and not your admin team, I can almost guarantee it will get back to them.

“This party blows.”

I’m guessing your Sunshine Committee doesn’t get paid for putting together events like this. Be kind and thank the organizers. Even if the food sucks.

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Because what happens at a school holiday party doesn't necessarily stay at a school holiday party.