The annual office holiday party can be a loved or dreaded occasion – and it really comes down to how you plan it. The good news is that with a little thought and creativity you can plan a celebration that allows your employees to spend time with each other socially and build relationships beyond just work.
But it’s important to keep their ideas and preferences in mind, since it’s truly a party for them after all!
Take a look at our top 6 expert tips for hosting the perfect office holiday party. And by perfect, we mean one that people won’t show up looking for their first moment to escape!
Host it (at least partially) during office hours
Make your office party something your employees look forward to attending, not just another time commitment on their calendars. One of the easiest ways to do this is to schedule the party at least partially during normal work hours. This means employees will get a break from the normal work routine while not having to give up more of their personal or family time to attend a party. Consider closing the work day a little bit early and then guests can choose how late they wish to stay after that.
The more the merrier – invite plus ones!
Another great way to make your office holiday party more fun is to allow employees to bring their spouse or a plus one. This expands the social circle, brings in some new faces and also gives your employees a chance to meet everyone’s “better half!”
Plan activities and icebreakers to steer conversation away from work-related topics
When the one big thing that guests have in common is their jobs, it’s easy for conversation to get stuck on the topic of work. Shake things up and break people out of the business mindset by planning some fun activities or icebreakers that are totally fun and not at all work related. A simple Google search or browsing Pinterest will give you some great ideas for holiday party games that are still work appropriate.
Let your staff have a say in the planning
This piece of advice is to the benefit of both you and your staff. Form a voluntary planning committee where employees can jump on the party planning wagon. Also, don’t assume the majority of employees want a big, formal party. Take a workplace poll and allow people to speak up if they’d prefer a day off instead. This may not be the easiest news to digest, but listening to their wishes will show you respect them and are willing to give them the best gift of all – relaxing time spent just the way they like it!
Stick within budget and don’t make guests pay
Your office holiday party should be a gift to your staff, not another financial burden during the Christmas season. Be sure to cover all of your expenses without asking them to chip in and stick within budget. Your employees will enjoy a big party, but they are also counting on those end-of-year bonuses which mean way more to them than lavish ice sculptures and an open bar at the holiday party.
Keep the location convenient, but still make it feel special
The most natural venue for your holiday party, especially one that is taking place during work hours, is right at your place of business. But this doesn’t mean you open the conference room and expect everyone to stand around the same environment they see each and every day. Put a little effort into decorating the space! Consider renting some key items like tables, chairs and linens to make the space seem more special than what you see every day. Or venture outside the office altogether! Pick a location that’s close by and convenient so that employees can get there easily and spend the most time together, not in transit.
Are you helping to plan your office party this year? Share some of the innovative ideas you have in mind for making it fun and festive!