The office holiday party invitation just pinged your inbox and immediately you’re so done with work interaction.

“Do I really have to attend?” you’re thinking. That’s mistake number-one. Attendance is mandatory if you want to stay in the good graces of management. Not only must you attend this celebration of organizational success, you have to RSVP within 48 hours.

Failure to go makes it appear like you don’t care about your job. If you don’t find the celebration important, the executive team will question how much you value your position in general. This is just the beginning of a laundry list of career mistakes to avoid when it comes to the office holiday party.

This annual soiree is perhaps the most significant night of the year when it comes to your career because how you conduct yourself says a lot about your professional savvy. Your boss, the company president and other important people are observing your every move asking themselves, “How does she socialize with our best clients?” and, “Does he drink that much alcohol with the board?”

The truth is, it may seem as if it’s a holiday celebration, but it’s simultaneously a performance evaluation to determine if you’re a good fit with company culture and organizational growth. Want that pay raise or promotion? Then take it seriously and don’t self-destruct.

You walk into the room and make a beeline for the buffet. That’s a big no-no. The very first thing you will want to do is make the rounds, say hello to your colleagues and express your gratitude to the owner of the company. Failure to do so says that despite your business acumen, you’re lacking when it comes to basic social etiquette. It shows your boss that if you don’t know how to properly interact in a casual setting, you probably won’t be the best candidate to dine or meet with important clients or the board (if you get that far).

When you do finally make your way to the buffet, remember, you were not invited because the hosts thought you were hungry. Moderation is key. All eyes are on you. Be considerate of others and remember your etiquette basics – keep hands clean and avoid a mouth full of hors d’oeuvres. Avoid walking around with a full plate, do not double dip or eat over the chafing dish, and properly discard toothpicks, napkins, and plates. The executive committee is looking for you to demonstrate sophistication and class while remaining neat and mobile.

There’s no doubt that the drinks will be flowing. Avoid becoming Monday’s gossip. This is probably the most common mistake that executives make during the holiday party. Alcohol and a loose tongue may add up to a regretful Monday morning equation. Consider soft drinks, club soda or water. If you choose to drink, do so responsibly and remember that your behavior is under the microscope all evening. You may feel more relaxed with each sip, but too much may cost you much more than your sobriety.

The holiday party may be a festive occasion; however, it is still attended by your coworkers. This especially applies to fitness buffs who are sometimes tempted to use company parties to strut their stuff. Save the compression clothing for non-professional parties and bars. Use good taste to select an elegant ensemble and leave the over-the-knee-boots for purely social events. You’ve worked for years to build a professional image and garner the respect of your colleagues. Don’t undermine it all in one evening.

Whatever your company plans for the annual holiday office party, remember that attendance is mandatory, your future is on the line and it’ll be a party revisited for years to come. Make sure it is memorable for all the right reasons.