The winter season, and all its attendant holidays, can make you really take stock of what you have. This is why many companies throw holiday parties for employees. It's a great way to say "thanks" for a job well done this past year.
But holiday parties can come with their own set of minefields to navigate. An awkward holiday party is like an employee getting coal in their corporate stocking. Here are some tips to avoid this fate and keep your holiday party as merry as Santa Claus:
1) Keep Your Spirits Bright...but Under Control
Tis the season to keep spirits bright, but employees who imbibe too many spirits can be a recipe for a holiday party disaster. By spirits, of course, we mean alcohol, which is often a key component to an office holiday party.
You just need to look toward pop culture for an example of how dangerous drinking to excess at the holiday party can be. On the AMC's 60s-era drama Mad Men, a booze-filled party turned into a disaster when a drunk employee ran over the foot of a superior with a lawn mower. Most likely having a few too many drinks won't result in bodily injury, but it can certainly hurt your employee morale.
Instead of pouring out hard liquor, pick something more mellow such as wine or something seasonal like eggnog. Watch employees who look like they might be on the verge of drinking to excess and quietly cut them off. Or you could even decide to forgo the alcohol entirely and instead provide fun seasonal beverages. Whatever you do, make sure employees don't wake up regretting their actions at your holiday party in the next morning.
2) Know Your Staff
To craft the perfect holiday party, you'll first need to understand the makeup and needs of your employees. These are the same people you connected with in the hiring process, whether through an in-person interview or through online video. Think about their unique needs before scheduling your office party venue.
Do most of your workers have families or are they single and ready to cut loose? If your employees are mostly family-minded, you don't want to schedule your holiday party at the new hip bar in town. Instead, you might decide on a holiday fair or family-friendly activity everyone can take part in. Likewise, if your employees are mostly single and looking to have fun this winter, a night out might be more alluring to them than going to a production of The Nutcracker.
Many offices, however, have a mix of both types of employees. In this case, you'll want to schedule something that will be fun for everyone. For instance, going bowling or attending a karaoke night will allow the single workers to grab a few drinks and have fun while the families can still tag along and enjoy themselves.
3) Rock Around the Holiday Tree
Winter is a great time of year in which many holidays occur. Staying clear of religious affiliation is a great rule of thumb in the office in general, but it's even more important around the holidays. Not all of your employees will observe the same religious holidays, and therefore it's good to keep this time of year as nondenominational as possible.
Put aside the manger and Hanukkah candles for twinkle lights and snowmen. It will make your entire workforce feel included instead of just the members that share your religious views.
4) Consider ditching Secret Santa
Secret Santa can be very stressful, especially if you end up with a coworker you don't know very well. The episode of NBC's The Office, where horrible boss Michael Scott reacts badly to a homemade present, shows the shortcomings of secret Santa present swaps.
Avoid the awkwardness of buying the wrong present by encouraging your office to give to others instead. Start a toy drive or pool all the money that would be spent on gifts to give to charity instead. After all, the season is about giving back and being grateful for the gifts we already have, and no one really needs another scented candle from a coworker who has no idea what to get you.
Holiday and Christmas work parties can be great ways to bond with your workforce and say a special thanks for a job well done in 2014. So before hanging up twinkle lights, make sure to check these holiday party tips twice.
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