The traditional office Christmas party is a much anticipated event in many workplaces and whether it is hosted in the office or in another venue which is separate from work, it gives a chance for all colleagues to celebrate together and to ‘let their hair down’ as the end of a year approaches. A successful office party at Christmas can boost morale and bring about a sense of camaraderie amongst colleagues and can create some wonderful memories.
However, when the subject of the Christmas party arises, some employees may feel a little uncomfortable in accepting the invitation because of a variety of reasons. For some it may be that if they tend to work with much younger colleagues then they may feel ‘too old’, others may not like how loud parties can get while for a few it may be a mixture of different reasons which we will touch upon in this article.
In any typical working environment you will invariably have a workforce of different faiths, those who have food preferences such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, lactose intolerant and those with allergies. Some will not drink alcohol and there will be colleagues of varying ages and perhaps some who have a disability.
Organising a successful Christmas party so that it is inclusive and welcoming while ensuring that it discriminates against no one may feel impossible at first but with a little careful planning and consideration, you can make certain that everyone has a good time. Attention to detail is key to organisation so begin by defining exactly what the main objective of the party is. Is it to acknowledge the end of the year and colleague recognition, a time of eating and drinking and having a well deserved break from work or will it be a celebration of Christmas itself? Perhaps it is a blend of all of these.
Selecting the right venue is crucial so work out the budget and the number of attendees. Will the party be hosted in the office itself or in a nearby venue? The venue must align with your objectives and must be easily accessible for all.
When selecting the date and time for the party, you must consider the workloads, schedules and shift patterns of everyone involved as these can vary significantly. Check with everyone so you are aware of any conflicts with any pre-booked leave. Most office parties are held on either weekends or evenings but a lunchtime or afternoon event can work equally as well.
You can easily transform any suitable venue into a beautiful space with decorations, lighting and music. Incorporate specific colour themes that resonate with the occasion. Decorations can be as simple or elaborate as you choose.
The menu is critical as individual taste and preferences can differ enormously. Catering is often a convenient option as all the hard work is already done for you but however you choose to provide food, you must ensure that there are plenty of options for dietary restrictions. Offering a wide range of beverages is equally as important with a range of non alcoholic as well as alcoholic drinks available.
Simple yet fun activities can be pre arranged which is a great way to promote social interaction especially for colleagues who may not know each other well. A gift exchange or ‘Secret Santa’ is a popular and enjoyable choice.
Take the opportunity of everyone being together to ensure colleagues are thanked for their hard work and dedication. It is a good time to recognise any achievements or milestones from the past year. It is a great idea if every employee could be given a recognition of some sort as this will raise spirits and everyone will go home feeling that they are a valuable and recognised member of the team.
Talking of going home, office parties are legally considered to be work even if they are held outside of office hours and away from the workplace.With this in mind you must arrange transportation options to ensure everyone’s safety after the celebration. Some employees may be especially vulnerable so to confirm transport home as part of the party organisation will be a very wise and responsible action and one which will be appreciated.