The Office Holiday Party is Right Around the Corner….

It’s that time of year again when employers begin to think about bringing the company together to celebrate the holidays and thank employees for their hard work and dedication. As an employer, how do you carefully plan a party that accommodates employees’ diverse beliefs and traditions? What type of party makes sense? Will it be neutral and non-religious or will you elect to represent all the religions? In any case, it’s a good idea to invite a committee of employees to participate in the planning and selection of decorations and food to ensure it is a party employees are excited about.

The location of the party is another important choice. Employers usually want employees to be able to get away from the office and their desks, but often the costs associated with an off-site party combined with the business’s needs dictate that the party be kept onsite. If that is the case in your company, do your best to find an area that allows plenty of room for mingling. If the party takes place during business hours, it makes sense that it would be employees only. However, if the party is held in the evening or on a weekend, it is more common and reasonable to allow employees to bring a guest.

Other things to consider that should go into your planning are the types of activities that will take place:

  • Will there be games? If so, be sure to offer optional activities that appeal to those who are less social. Some people you may not suspect are introverted and cringe at group events.
  • Will you provide music and dancing? If you can’t afford to hire a band or DJ, ask a few employees to put together some music on a CD or iPod. This is fun way for employees to be involved and they usually do a great job finding out what the group likes.
  • What is on the menu? Be sensitive to your employees’ food allergies or dietary restrictions.
  • What kind of beverages will be served? If alcohol is on the menu, be sure to have a plan to get employees home safely if they’ve had too much to drink. Have a car service or taxi tickets on hand.

Because this time of year represents a time of giving and giving in group settings can be awkward, consider tying the party to a food or toy drive. The group will appreciate the company’s focus on helping the community, while also celebrating fellow employees.

One last thing to consider; if in your company the holiday weeks are just too busy to celebrate in the way you want, an alternative could be to throw a “new year’s kickoff celebration” in January. Employees are less stressed and employers may be able to get some great deals on some fun event or party venues. It’s different as well as cost-effective and employees may really appreciate having something to look forward to in January. If you decide to do that, it’s a good idea to still acknowledge the holidays and the employees’ hard work with a note or a card. Slip in a “save the date” notice so they know something is coming in January.

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