Do you dread throwing the obligatory annual office holiday party? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. While popular among employees, holiday parties can be stressful for managers because spouses and partners may be present, alcohol is usually involved, and inhibitions are generally lowered. Here are six of the most common pitfalls of office holiday parties, along with easy tips for heading them off.
This fact should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Attendance at the office holiday party should not be mandatory. Some employees are just not the party-going kind, and even party lovers will feel more festive if they’re there by choice. Likewise, significant others may be welcomed, but their attendance should not be heavily stressed.
If you can’t afford to hold your party without asking your staff to pick up part of the tab, your goodwill effort might backfire. Management expert Alison Green notes that a simple party with small treats will feel like more of a gift than a pricey dinner that your workers have to subsidize.
Party planning works much better if you keep your priorities in order. Young Upstarts points out that color-coordinated napkins and perfect tablecloths won’t matter nearly as much as plenty of good food and a generous bar, including options for non-drinkers too.
Drinking and driving
If you’re serving alcohol, HR specialist Suzanne Lucas urges you to make it easy for partygoers to be responsible by making prior arrangements with a cab company, renting a bus, or holding the party in a location that’s convenient to public transportation.
Too much drink, not enough food
You can head off potential overindulgence in alcohol by making sure there’s a steady supply of munchies. Include protein, vegetables, and gluten-free options so everyone will find something appealing.
It’s a party, not work
As a manager, the office holiday party is not the place to bring up work topics. Trying to use the good cheer to fuel work tasks will only deflate the team’s holiday spirit and deplete their motivation.
When handled well, holiday office parties can deepen the camaraderie among team members and build warmth that lasts well into the new year. If you’re sensitive to the potential pitfalls, you can plan ahead and avoid them. Then, you can throw a holiday party that’s enjoyable for workers and management alike.