Everyone’s been there. The awkward holiday gift exchange where you get the box of balled-up newspaper or peanut shells. Your supervisor throws a feather boa around your neck and forces you to sing “Santa Baby.” Someone’s caught kissing behind the palm fronds, and the office won’t stop buzzing the next day. Instead of embarrassment this winter, here are 7 great ways to make your office holiday party the highlight of the year — for all the right reasons.
1. May your language be inclusive and light
Right there in the title, it’s Tip #1: Keep your language neutral and respectful of all holiday traditions. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t all get together for warm winter time around some mulled wine. In one-on-one interactions, avoid discussing career potential or salary expectations on the holiday party dance floor. Save those conversations for the office.
2. Location, location, location
Avoid a stuffy ballroom or art gallery if you want people to bring their kids. Conversely, family-friendly doesn’t have to mean Chuck E. Cheese’s. Be sure the venue is a place where everyone can feel comfortable and appreciated. Provide clear driving or transit directions, and greet guests upon arrival. Upfront instructions for coat checks, restrooms, and arrival/departure protocols will help everyone stay on their best behavior.
3. Out of sight, not out of mind
Nothing’s worse than being forgotten for the holidays. Remember those on leave for maternity/paternity or for illness. Even if people can’t attend, it doesn’t mean they don’t like to be asked. Temporary employees or independent contractors also may feel on the fringes of things, and a holiday party can help boost team spirit during a typically lonely time of year.
4. Don’t force the fun
Not everyone (unbelievably!) loves karaoke. Options are awesome, but forced holiday merriment is no fun at all. Venues with a few different avenues for enjoyment guarantee a better time in general. Think dance floor in a bowling alley with open karaoke rooms. Remember to make some options family-friendly. Everyone should be invited, but if some decide to opt out, they also shouldn’t be shamed or forced into attending.
5. Beware of bullying and harassment
Parties are a time to let loose. Some may let a little looser than others, and personal choices may be more on display than usual when work and social lines begin to cross. The next day at the office, however, try to keep a damper on the gossip mill. Preserve an atmosphere of discretion and respect by keeping idle speculation to a minimum. You may even consider putting parameters around social media use to preserve employees’ privacy and personal safety.
6. Build a good offense
In preparation for party day, let employees know exactly what’s expected, and put measures in place to prevent disasters up front. If you’re serving booze, also plan for plenty of food and non-alcoholic options. Contract with Uber or a taxi company to provide safe rides home, and make those services easy to locate and use. Clarify policies ahead of time for morning-after lateness or absence. Remember to keep company safety in mind, especially if business involves operating heavy machinery or delicate systems.
7. Keep the community in mind
Even those who aren’t part of your company may be part of your party. If you’re planning specific entertainment, remember that wait staff and other service employees are captive to their jobs in the situation you create. Avoid sensitive material that could cause discomfort on any level. Try to plan a time that’s safe and enjoyable for all involved, even those you don’t see every day. Want more tips? Download our guide to creating great events, and make every office party awesome.