Six Tips to Make Sure the Office Holiday Party is Fun for Everyone
Ah, the holiday season. For businesses it’s a time of offering thanks and celebrating customers and employees alike. It’s the season of chaos, staffing headaches and end of year deadlines. If planning the company holiday party has you quaking, think about how you probably felt as the employee who was cajoled into attending the holiday bash.
For your employees, ‘tis the season…
…Of staring at the closet, overcome with dread at the prospect of selecting something “appropriate” for the company holiday party.
…Of coworker gift exchanges organized by well-meaning admins that cement their realizations that they aren’t observant enough of their work friends and their taste.
…Of last minute changes of venue or menu and the inconvenient last minute additions of a plus 1.
Stop the insanity! Company holiday get-togethers don’t need to be stress-filled.
Ask your Employees
If the purpose of your company holiday party is to thank your employees, ask them what they would like to do. Poll them as to the venue and the types of food and beverages they prefer. Encourage employees to become part of the planning. In a larger company, ask each department to take responsibility one aspect of the party. In just about any office, you are sure to find at least one person who lives for party planning.
Arrange a Group Activity
Not everyone loves a party. Social gatherings can be especially hard on shy or introverted employees. Instead of planning a lavish social affair that will lead to awkward or dull moments, why not plan a team-building activity that’s fun for everyone? It might sound crazy, but a “Glow Bowl” bowling party or indoor go cart racing can be a fun way to let off some steam while you build your team in a low key atmosphere. Volunteering is another great way to build togetherness while doing something great in the community. If you can afford to, volunteer during the workday and pay your employees for doing something worthwhile outside the office. You can add in a group lunch or dinner at the event location or nearby before everyone scatters for the day.
Choose a Theme
Host a Hawaiian luau, a Mediterranean cruise or an African safari right in your office. Your decorations will avoid any potential conflicts created by color schemes that might be perceived as representing a particular holiday, as they transport your employees somewhere exotic for a few hours. You might find local clubs that can teach hula or provide Greek music or African drums for entertainment. Use a local restaurant or caterer for your event, and you just supported a local small business at the same time.
Do Something Unexpected
If you just can’t break with the tradition of the annual office holiday party, at least shake up the event a bit. Hire a professional photographer to photograph party-goers when they are all dressed up, then give them a copy of the photo as a keepsake. For a more informal or themed party, rent a photo booth or provide a photo backdrop like the ones you once posed at during prom or your sorority formal. Bring in a magician or a local improv troupe for some laughs. Offer on-site child care paid for by the company so employees and their partners can enjoy the evening without the expense of a babysitter. Raffle large door prizes with items that employees might not purchase for themselves such as a Keurig coffee maker, a television or a spa/massage gift certificates.
Big Party, Small Budget
Holiday time can be challenging for a start-up. Just because your budget precludes you from taking your team of 20 to a 5-star restaurant doesn’t mean you can’t have a festive and fun celebration. Catering lunch in for everyone in the office and allowing your staff to take a longer lunch and unwind is a great way to thank them for their hard work. Or you can coordinate a potluck meal and allow everyone to showcase their culinary skills. Hosting your holiday shindig during the day reduces the burden on your employees’ family and free time, too.
Remember Off-site Employees
Don’t forget your employees that work remotely and are unable to attend a local event. Offer them a gift card or reimburse them for a dinner out in the amount you would normally spend on each person attending the company holiday party.
The holiday season should be an opportunity to express your appreciation for a year of service and growth. It doesn’t have to break the bank or make anyone uncomfortable, especially the very employees you’re trying to thank.11