There are people in this world who know all about throwing great office Holiday parties. Take Annette Joseph, for example.
Annette is a stylist, TV personality and author of Picture Perfect Parties. She’s everywhere online giving the kind of advice that most people wouldn’t even think about. For example, in a recent post on Pinterest she showed all the great and wonderful ways business owners can throw that perfect holiday party, even when just using stuff from your local Staples’ Copy and Print Center. (And no, I’m not being paid to endorse anyone here). This woman can create a party from anything.
Me? I’m no stylist and I’m not creative enough to come up with all these great ideas. But two decades of attending both horrible and excellent holiday parties thrown by my clients have taught me a few things about throwing an office holiday party that have nothing to do with flowers and decorations and customized invitations purchased at Staples.
For starters, have it in house. Don’t rent out a restaurant. Don’t have some gala, black-tie affair in a hotel or catering hall. You’re not in the Fortune 500. The companies that do that kind of thing clearly have way more money to waste than you. Besides, most people don’t want to take an evening away from home for some stuffy affair. They want to relax in a familiar place. There’s nothing wrong with doing an office party in your office. Check out Annette’s site above and you’ll find a ton of good recommendations for decorating your office, way better than some restaurant.
Don’t serve alcohol. This is a liability you just don’t want. The last thing you need is for some Jabroni from the warehouse to drink a few too many beers and then run over a puppy on the way home…or another living thing, if you get my drift. You’ll be in court before you know it, lawyered up and defending your poor judgment. People can have a good time without alcohol. It’s actually possible. Make up for it with good, catered food. If your employees want to go for an after-party at the local bar, good for them. And good for you, for avoiding this lawsuit.
Don’t invite family members. They kill a holiday party. I’ve seen this with my own eyes. There’s a lot that goes on at work. Relationships are very different and sometimes, unfortunately…well, complicated. You don’t want to be in the middle of that. Wives, husbands and even children of an employee completely change the vibe of a holiday party. You want your people hanging out together where work isn’t the primary topic of concern. You want your party to be an opportunity for your employees to make connections and grow as a team. Having family there completely negates that idea. Try to have the party on a Friday afternoon or another, similar time when it’s not taking your employees away from their families for very long.
Tell everyone thanks. My company is virtual, we have no offices and see each other as a group maybe twice a year. Maybe. Sure, my overhead is lower. But we are very, very dysfunctional! At least at our holiday gathering I can tap the glass with a spoon and say a few nice words. I take the chance to speak with everyone individually and give thanks. I also hand out bonus checks too, which I slip into a holiday card also saying thanks. This is my one chance a year to truly show how grateful I am for everyone’s work. A good holiday party is, if nothing else, the business owner’s chance to say thanks. Take it.
Finally, leave them alone. That means: go. Go home. Leave a responsible manager in charge. But, after spending some time and saying your thanks, take leave and tell everyone to have a great time. I’ve seen this done before and it works well. When the boss isn’t around, people can relax more. They don’t have to feel like they’re going to do something or make a mistake that will impact their career. And neither do you, by the way. So let them have fun. This is a party for your employees, not for you. Your reward: a cold beer and the last half hour of Sports Center in peace. Aah…now that’s a holiday present any hard working business owner could love!