Few things are more polarizing for a business leader than the Office Holiday Party. On the one hand, you want to do something fun to reward and thank your team.
On the other hand, you don’t want there to be any awkward moments or bad behavior. As the year draws to a close if you are facing the task of pulling off the perfect party for your team, take heart. We have some real advice for you.
Make your Intentions Clear
With the invitation, include some more official information. Review your company policy about behavior and clearly state your expectations. We know you don’t want to be “that” boss, but your direct and clear communication here will allow you to be the fun boss at the party. This communication is also a good time to indicate if spouses/kids/guests are welcome too. Maybe include some of the activities you have planned (see below) to drum up excitement, also.
Enlist the help of your leadership team to get the party started, keep it rolling, and to keep it on the rails. Have someone at the door to mingle and greet guests. A friendly face and a warm greeting will make everyone feel comfortable and welcome. Keep the big wigs circulating, and they can also keep an eye out for any problems. If you are able, you might want to have a member of senior management stationed by the bar to make small talk and say “thank you.” Their presence, in it of itself, may encourage responsible drinking. This also gives your C-Suite person a chance to get out of their office and chit chat with just about everyone at the party.
Don’t feel too bad about asking your senior team to help. Yes, it’s their party, too. But this shouldn’t be an imposition. Your rank-and-file employees spend most of the year working for and answering to your senior leadership. On this one occasion, they will surely appreciate the effort management makes.
Formal ice-breaking activities are out of place here but have something – maybe a few things – for your guests to do. Think about company-specific trivia, a gag gift exchange, or a holiday bingo to get involved. Activities like these can lead to some tremendous low-key interaction. Not everyone wants to dance, so maybe a holiday movie playing in the background instead of a DJ is a nice change? And, unless it’s a small company, don’t assume that everyone knows everyone. Some of these more low-key activities could be great conversation starters, too.
And, If All Else Fails Remove the Alcohol
Many times, the bar becomes the catalyst for bad behavior. And when folks have one too many, the lines can get blurry between ‘I was just kidding,’ and ‘we need to talk.’ Think about an activity where the bar just doesn’t fit – ax throwing, laser tag, a cooking class, or even a brunch or lunch. Some of your employees who don’t drink may also thank you for thinking about a fun celebration that isn’t necessarily booze-fueled.
You don’t have to feel holiday pressure when planning a great experience for your team. Take the steps beforehand to communicate your expectations, and the event should be fun for all. And, of course, if you think you need some direction, we’re here to help.
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