Office Holiday Party Best PracticesOffice holiday parties can be a bit of a gamble from an HR perspective: Best case scenario, everyone gets to dress up, enjoy a catered meal and a cocktail or two, and bond outside the office. Worst case scenario, it’s a lampshade-on-a-head fiasco that damages professional relationships. So how do you ensure that your holiday shindig falls in the HR-best-case-scenario category AND becomes an event your employees are excited about next year?
A successful office holiday party piles on genuine fun while decreasing liability risks. Here are a few tips to make sure the company party is a hit without getting out of hand.
1. KEEP IT SHORT
Limit your party to two or three hours and you’ll cut down on the number of employees who get wild and wooly, especially if there’s a bar involved. To prevent employees from pre-partying, hold your event right after work so everyone arrives sober and in a professional state of mind.
2. SPELL IT OUT
Prior to a big corporate party, many HR departments put out a written notice of dress code and expected code of conduct. Even straight-laced employees may need a little reminder that all office parties are still technically work events. Parties aren’t an invitation for employees to hit on colleagues, spill secrets, break out jokes with questionable punchlines, or get too close on the dance floor. A written reminder emailed out a couple days before the big event can help people stay conscientious of their actions.
3. PLAN FOR RIDES
Serving alcohol at the office holiday party? Consider contracting with Uber or another ride-sharing service to get tipsy employees home safely. Set up a company tab to pay for the rides, and you’ll greatly reduce the risk of anybody getting behind the wheel when they shouldn’t.
4. INVITE SPOUSES
While some companies try to keep costs down by not inviting spouses or dates, employees are more likely to behave if they are there with their better half. Spouses probably aren’t going to be the ones letting loose, and their clear-headedness will help keep the employees they’re married to in check. Spouses and dates also make it more likely that there’s a designated driver for each group, and less likely that employees will risk inappropriate flirtatious behavior.
5. LIMIT THE BEVERAGES
If alcohol is part of the company party, consider using a ticket system where all employees are given a limited number of tickets that can be exchanged for drinks. Instruct bartenders to keep a close eye on the people they’re serving and not to serve anyone who might be inebriated or who is obviously trying to game the system by using another guest’s drink tickets.
Many companies don’t allow shots to be served, or serve beer and wine only. Both these tactics help slow down the pace at which your guests are consuming alcohol.
6. SERVE FOOD
You were going to serve food anyway, right? Good. Any decent party needs to include a few food options at minimum, especially if you are trying to keep people from overindulging at the bar. Opt for a mix of sweet and savory items, with a few items that have enough fat or protein to fill people up. Nobody wants to stand around eating carrot sticks all evening, Susan.
7. OFFER ACTIVITIES
We’re all for mingling and getting to know each other, but a lack of planned activities results in too much time for standing around. This can be awkward for employees who aren’t social butterflies, and it can lead to early exits or too many trips to the bar.
Games, photo booths, and award ceremonies are all simple and effective side-activities for a party. A paint and sip party is a great option, too. Painting can be the main event, or it can be a side activity. Significant others especially appreciate having something to do, since it cuts down on small talk with people they don’t know. Having something fun to do together is a great equalizer for people who don’t usually see each other in social situations.
8. CONSIDER VENUE
The choice of party locale goes a long way to set the tone for the event. Think about things like lighting scheme and open floor plan vs. “lots of dark corners for doing dark deeds,” to quote the movie Love Actually. A more open, well-lit space doesn’t lend itself as easily to HR nightmares.
...AND KEEP THINGS INTERESTING
No two company parties are the same. If you’d like to find out how Pinot’s Palette combines art, entertainment, and socializing (drinking optional), get in touch! We offer a variety of group painting activities to fit different event types, from come-and-go to sit down, casual to black tie. Some studios can even bring the paint party to your office or other venue. Let us work with you to create the perfect atmosphere for a fun, safe, successful holiday event.