Carnival Courtesies

Office etiquette for parade and party season

Carnival season is upon us, which means, like a shimmering strand of Mardi Gras beads tossed from a float, business as usual sails right out the window.

While it’s common knowledge that many people and companies around New Orleans will have special hours, it’s still a good idea to keep a few things in mind so the season doesn’t cause confusion, or worse, a loss of business or clients. Here are a few tips for a seamless Carnival season:

• Let’s be honest, Carnival time is party time. That being said, even if you have the most understanding managers, clients and customers, a hangover is not a good look at work. So first and foremost, look ahead and if you know you’ll be out late for certain business-day parades, parties or balls, consider scheduling the next day off in advance. If you can’t schedule time off, take the necessary precautions to avoid being “overserved”: Don’t drink on an empty stomach, hydrate and have the necessary remedies handy at home and at work, just in case. (I’m a fan of Emergen-C.)

• Familiarize yourself with all the parade routes and closures around your office, house and scheduled meetings. Managers might want to send an email to everyone in the company with route and closure information, especially if your business is located in those areas. Share this information with your clients as well and offer them the option to hold meetings elsewhere.

• Employers and employees who live inside the parade loop should make arrangements with managers and alert clients, costumers and co-workers to their schedule. Plan to send out an email indicating which days you’ll be leaving early, departure times and whether or not you’ll be available for phone conversations, emails and remote work after you leave the office. If you are in a krewe, include your parade days and indicate whether or not you’ll be taking vacation days or coming in for a half-day. Encourage everyone to get together with you on anything pressing, so you don’t leave anyone in a lurch. Business owners who plan to close up shop should also get the word out to clients and customers via e-blasts, social media and signage.

• One of my co-workers is a longtime member of Muses. Each year, she brings in a bag of throws prior to her parade and shares the goodies with everyone at the office. It’s always fun to get a “preview” and to know that even if we miss her on the route, she has “thrown” us something in spirit.

• On that note, she also advises, “If you know where a co-worker is on the route and they don’t see you, don’t ‘punish’ them the next day at work.” She jokes that she is never able to find even her husband due to the noise, crowds and commotion atop the float. Getting miffed at someone who doesn’t see you under such chaotic circumstances is bad enough; so don’t make matters worse by bringing it up the next day. If ever there was a time for a hall pass, this is it.

• Work ahead as much as possible to avoid missed deadlines, since so many people you may need to connect with aren’t as available during Carnival. 

A little planning and courtesy go a long way toward a smooth work life this time of year. Unfortunately, no matter how much you plan ahead, inevitably a client, customer or co-worker will be caught off guard. When that happens, try to show a little compassion and instead of getting angry, tap into the spirit of Carnival and laissez les bons temps rouler!  

Melanie Warner Spencer is editor of New Orleans Bride Magazine. Her writing has appeared in the Austin American-Statesman, the Houston Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. Spencer’s ever-expanding library of etiquette books is rivaled only by her ever-ready stash of blank thank-you notes. Submit business etiquette questions to


Categories: The Magazine