How to Throw a Great Office Holiday Party

December 15, 2014

The holiday season means many things for the corporate world. For some businesses, it means an uptick in sales and a more frenetic workplace. For others, it means winding down the year and preparing for next year. Above all, the holidays are a great time for you to say thank you to your employees. A great way to do that is by throwing an office holiday party.

An office holiday party is a way to show your appreciation for the hard work your teams have put in all year. It is a chance to interact in a different environment and to cultivate stronger relationships among your employees. Throwing a holiday party can be tricky, however, and you will want your party to run flawlessly. With that in mind, here are five tips to throwing a great office holiday party.

  1. Make It Convenient: Picking a convenient location for your party is another way to encourage more of your employees to attend. Consider having it in the office (a central location for everyone) or a restaurant or banquet hall nearby. If there are locations near public transportation, consider those as well. Also, double-check that everyone knows when the party is! You certainly do not want confusion that leads to half of your department showing up on one day and half on the next day. A complete, detailed invitation not only sets a positive, festive mood but also ensures that the date, time, and location are all clearly spelled out. Finally, do not skimp on decorations. Turn a conference room into a holiday lounge. Cover your office in lights, banners, and pictures. Truly make an effort to inspire a festive atmosphere so that your employees really feel like they are at a party and not just staying late at the office.
  1. Offer a Wide Variety of Food Options: A holiday party also means indulging in delicious food. Make sure that you offer a variety of options for those who have dietary restrictions, such as allergens or certain preferences. You should also provide different options because people have different tastes. Bring in a caterer and have some traditional food but also offer more exotic food options; so if your team feels adventurous, they can try some new things. Offer the food before the alcohol, so that everyone at least has something in their stomach before that first drink, should they choose to indulge in an alcoholic beverage. It is also important to make sure you have enough food for everyone. Nothing is worse than running out of food halfway through the party!
  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption: Office holiday parties are often a time when employees blow off some steam and try to relax. Some, however, take this too far and end up drinking too much and embarrassing themselves and others. Avoid letting your employees become the talking point around the water cooler the next day by limiting everyone’s alcohol consumption. One way to ensure that no one goes too crazy is to offer drink tickets to your employees. You should also provide a limited number of options and be sure to offer soda, juice, water, and other nonalcoholic beverages. This appeals to the nondrinkers in your office as well. Finally, for those who do want to drink, make sure that everyone has reliable, safe transportation home. Whether it is providing a car service or having voluntary designated drivers, remember that you may be responsible if something were to happen to anyone after leaving your party.
  1. Skip the Secret Santa: Organizing an office-wide “Secret Santa” gift exchange is a better idea in theory than in practice. In a smaller setting where everyone knows each other (think of a family or friend group), a Secret Santa exchange allows you to demonstrate how close your relationships are. In an office, though, those relationships are often not as close-knit. Someone who is new to the company may not know many people, and the gift-giving exchange could be uncomfortable and awkward. Additionally, some people may receive better gifts than others, sparking jealousy or a lack of appreciation for the gift they did receive. Instead, suggest a company-wide initiative to donate to a charity or organization of your choosing. This doubles as an altruistic activity and a team-building experience. People who need the gifts or money more than you will be grateful, and your employees will feel good about themselves as well.
  1. Make it Fun: Above all, the office holiday party is meant to be a fun experience for everyone. Get to know your employees outside of a work setting. Hire a fun band or a DJ to play (appropriate) music that people can enjoy. Encourage people to mingle and network with others they might not talk to on a consistent basis. Clarify the dress code so some people don’t arrive in tuxedos when everyone else is wearing ugly sweaters. This is one of the few times throughout the year that everyone can relax and take their minds off of work–while still being surrounded by coworkers. So, make it fun, have fun yourself, and create some positive memories and stories to try to re-create the festivity next year.
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